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Pinellas girls basketball preview

Change is inevitable. Just don't expect any from Pinellas County. How does this sound for a basketball preview: Boca Ciega, Clearwater, Lakewood. Familiar, right? And for the private schools, St. Petersburg Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian and Keswick. Normal, right? Well, welcome to the 2010-11 season, where the status quo is expected to rule.

The past decade, Clearwater has won 22 playoff games. Bogie and St. Petersburg Catholic have won 14. Each team has made the playoffs every season since 2000.

Everyone other public school combined? Just 19 playoff wins, and that is skewed by six apiece from Lakewood and Largo.

Parity? Hardly.

There is one common thread behind the dynasties: coaching.

While the programs that seem to change coaches every year or two continue to wallow in misery, those that have coaches who have been able to establish a program have reaped success.

So look out for the Pirates, Tornadoes and Spartans; the Barons, Golden Eagles and Crusaders.

But keep an eye out for those lurking with dynastic desires: Palm Harbor University, St. Petersburg, Northside Christian.

Best team: Lakewood

Even Will White, who has coached Bogie to 85 wins over the past three season as well as the state final in 2010, is willing to concede the Spartans are the team to beat.

"Best team on paper I've seen in my 10 years," he said.

The Spartans (21-6 last season) return 6-foot sophomore guards Tiana Alvardo and Kasey Drayton and added Gibbs transfer Shineice Beamon, a 6-3 senior. All had great summers on the AAU circuit. And seniors Kayla Roberts and Taye'lor Trotter round out an impressive starting five.

"I think my players did a great job over the summer staying involved in basketball," coach Necole Tunsil said. "To my coaching staff's surprise, their basketball IQ has really increased. They all worked on their game tremendously. We should be able to put it together this season."

Best player:

Tamara Taylor, G/F, Boca Ciega

She has signed with USF, been to three straight state semifinals and surpassed 1,000 points. What's left for the 5-foot-10 sharpshooter?

How about Player of the Year?

The past two seasons, she has shared the scoring duties with the departed Latavia Dempsey and played in the same neighborhood with two-time Player of the Year Jerrica Coley. But now, she will lead the Pirates and, we expect, the county. She is a little bigger, a little better, and it will be interesting to watch the quiet Taylor grab the leadership reigns for the first time.

District preview

Class 6A, DISTRICT 7

Teams: Countryside, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Riverview, Sarasota, St. Petersburg.

The Deal: St. Petersburg won the district last season but has to replace some key pieces. Palm Harbor might have the district's top scorer in Kristine Fuller. But runnerup Sarasota was 21-8 and returns everyone.

Class 5A, DISTRICT 11

Teams: Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Seminole, Tarpon Springs.

The Deal: The Tornadoes won their district games by an average of 38 points. And with seniors Shaquora Lane (point guard) and Emma Loucks (forward) leading the way, not much should change for a program that hasn't missed the playoffs since 1994.

Class 5A, DISTRICT 12

Teams: Boca Ciega, Gibbs, Largo, Northeast, Pinellas Park.

The Deal: Ex-Rays pitcher Seth McClung tries to resurrect the Patriots. But he must beat out runnerup favorites Gibbs and Largo to get them back to the playoffs.

Class 4A, district 10

Teams: Bradenton Bayshore, Bradenton Braden River, Dixie Hollins, Lakewood, Bradenton Lakewood Ranch, Osceola, Palmetto.

The Deal: Osceola was 8-7 at one point before losing its last eight. But with almost everyone back, including standout Hannah Demarest, does it have a surprise?

Class 3A, DISTRICT 10

Teams: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, Academy of the Holy Names, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic.

The Deal: SPC will rely on juniors Annie Artise, Brittany Dunbar and Michelle Hallapio and the return of point guard Nikki Parker in unseating nemesis and defending state champion Tampa Catholic.

Class 2A, DISTRICT 10

Teams: Bishop McLaughlin, Brooks-DeBartolo, Calvary Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep.

The Deal: The Golden Eagles, who return all five starters, have worked hard on their defense. But the 3-point shooting of aces Tori Trador, Jessica Logemann and Jamie Ring could carry them to state.

Class 2A, District 11

Teams: Admiral Farragut, Northside Christian, Sarasota Out-of-Door, Shorecrest Prep, Bradenton St. Stephen's Episcopal.

The Deal: This could be the Mustangs' best team ever with good size, solid defense and young talent such as eighth-grader Deja Swinton and freshman Haley Gossard.

Class A, District 9

Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Cambridge, Canterbury, Keswick Christian, Lakeside Christian, Tampa Bay Christian.

The Deal: Seniors Cassie Foster, Sarah Trill and Alexa Dietz should equal an eighth straight playoff appearance for the Crusaders.

All-county preseason team

First team

G Tamara Taylor, Sr., Boca Ciega: Will approach 2,000 career points.

G Tori Trador, Jr., Indian Rocks: Led the county with 74 3-pointers last season.

F Kamika Idom, Sr., St. Petersburg: Will have to assume more of the scoring load after averaging 18.6.

F Tainah Alvarez, So., Lakewood: Has barely scratched the surface, says coach Necole Tunsil.

C Shineice Beamon, Jr., Lakewood: Inside force for the county's tallest team.

Second team

G Deja Swinton, 8th, Northside Chr.; G Emma Loucks, Sr., Clearwater; G Alexis Ungro, So., Boca Ciega; F Hanna Demarest, Sr., Osceola; F Kristine Fuller, Jr., PHU

Super seven

1. Lakewood: Could be looking at a nice two-year run.

2. Bogie: Looking to become the first public school to make four straight state semifinals.

3. Clearwater: Not a wealth of stars but will be there at the end.

4. Indian Rocks Christian: Beat Gibbs by 35 in a preseason game.

5. Northside Christian: Mustangs have potentially their best team ever.

6. St. Petersburg: Must find replacements at point guard and center, two strengths last season.

7. St. Petersburg Catholic: Health of 6-foot point guard Nikki Parker will be big.

Pinellas girls basketball preview 11/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 15, 2010 12:44am]
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