TAMPA — Because the Sickles basketball squad returns four starters from a team that went 21-7 last season, the Gryphons will likely have lofty goals this winter. But as his squad prepared for the Southeast Basketball Academy Summer League, Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia didn't know what to expect.
"Over the summer, you never know which teams are missing players," Garcia said.
He did know this: His team was one of them.
During play in the league with 27 teams (24 of which were from Hillsborough County), Sickles was without two likely starters, both of whom are injured. But it didn't seem to matter. On Thursday night, the Gryphons, who went 12-1 in league play, defeated Land O'Lakes 39-22 to win the title.
"We were missing players, and that's why I was so pleased," Garcia said.
As expected, Sickles point guard Jordan Davis, a rising junior, was exceptional. Not so expected was the solid play of sophomore-to-be Rashawn Rembert, a 6-foot-2 small forward who averaged double figures in scoring throughout the event.
"(Rembert) has really come on," Garcia said. "He basically knocked the door down."
PREPPED UP: Tampa Prep graduated four of its top seven players, yet the Terrapins went 10-2 and reached the summer league's semifinals before falling to Land O'Lakes. Like Sickles, Tampa Prep was without some of its top talent, namely guard Jamal Cherry, the squad's top returning scorer.
"Considering we had a bunch of guys who have never played basketball for us out there, I was very happy," Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon said.
Two players stood out: Jay Bowie, a junior forward who is 6-foot-4, and point guard David Fletcher, also a junior.
LOGGING MINUTES: Berkeley Prep is playing a ton of basketball this summer. A semifinalist in the summer league, the Buccaneers camped at USF two weeks, participated at Florida's camp last week and are attending camp at Rollins today.
The goal is to identify areas where improvement is needed.
"I think we've done that," Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart said.
Berkeley Prep, which won 20-plus games last season, features two of the area's better players in guards Johnathan Gray and Austin Suarez, both of whom have shined this summer. Suarez is a probable Division I recruit. By the time it's all said and done, Gray could be, too.
"I think we've shown that we can be a solid team," Reinhart said. "But our margin for error is not what it used to be. We've got to value every possession on both ends."