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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395

Email: bputnam@tampabay.com

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  1. HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for Feb. 18-24

    Blog

    Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Feb. 18 through Friday, Feb. 24. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

    Female nominees

    Tiasia McMillan, basketball, Carrollwood Day: In the Class 3A state semifinal, the junior forward scored 22 points and made 9 of 14 shots in a 73-37 win over Bradenton Christian....

  2. Region boy basketball: Lakewood Ranch 73, St. Petersburg 58

    Preps

    LAKEWOOD RANCH — For three seasons, St. Petersburg has relied on a pair of prolific scorers. Darius Banks and Serrel Smith usually take turns torching opposing defends. The guard tandem can make jumpers in transition, sink 3-pointers or convert key free throws.

    Their ability to pile up the points is a big reason the Green Devils were in the region finals for the sixth straight season and in position to make their third straight state semifinal appearance....

  3. Softball: Plant City 2, Durant 0

    Blog

    PLANT CITY – For most of the year, Sloan Hammons and Edmilly Molina are teammates. They play together on the Florida Impact travel team that won the 16-under ASA national title two years ago.

    Once high school season starts, they are opponents who play for schools that are bitter rivals. Hammons is a pitcher for Durant. Molina is a third baseman for Plant City.

    On Thursday, the teams renewed their annual grudge match in a key Class 8A, District 6 contest....

  4. Clearwater Central Catholic gains a quarterback

    Footballpreps

    Countryside quarterback Rory Hicks has transferred to Clearwater Central Catholic.

    The move became official Tuesday.

    Last season, Hicks threw for 424 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. He broke his tibia and fibula against East Lake and is rehabilitating. Hicks said he will be fully recovered once spring practice begins but will be ineligible to play in the spring game because he transferred after the start of the second semester....

    Countryside High School quarterback Rory Hicks (11) tries to break a tackle against St. Petersburg High School defenders in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Oct. 21, 2016.
  5. Berkeley Prep's Bobby Reinhart steps away from basketball

    Preps

    Bobby Reinhart held dual roles as boys basketball coach and athletic director at Berkeley Prep for 17 years.

    On Thursday, he announced he was giving up his basketball job to concentrate on being an athletic director.

    "I thought about it during this past season and did some soul searching for a few weeks," Reinhart said. "I didn't consult my wife or my father. This was a decision I made on my own. It was just the right time for me to do it."...

    Bobby Reinhart, 51, built the Berkeley Prep basketball program into one of the state's best. He steps away to solely focus on his athletic director duties.
  6. Region basketball finals breakdown

    Preps

    All games Friday night at 7. Admission is $7.

    Class 8A

    Melbourne (24-5) at Sickles (26-4): The Bulldogs have made the state semifinals each of the past two seasons. Melbourne has taken some hits through graduation, losing five seniors from last year's team. After starting 13-5, the Bulldogs have reeled off 11 straight wins. The Gryphons are in the region final for the first time since 2010, the year they made their only state semifinal appearance. Defense has been Sickles' strength all season. Since district play began, the Gryphons have held each of their five opponents to 39 points or fewer. Bryce Workman, a 6-foot-7 junior, had a big game for Sickles in the region semifinals, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds to help his team beat Bartow....

    St. Pete's Serrel Smith (10, left) goes up for a shot during the Class 8A- District 10 boys basketball final,  Countryside vs. St. Petersburg at Seminole High School on Friday, 2/10/17.
  7. Region boys basketball: Hillsborough 37, Mitchell 34

    Preps

    TRINITY — The ball was delivered perfectly to Hillsborough's Dexter Stallworth, 18 feet from the rim. Catch and shoot, just like practice.

    All Mitchell wanted to do was kill the clock, protect a lead and escape with a victory against the Terriers in the Class 7A region semifinals.

    Instead, another playoff win and the fading hopes of Hillsborough was in the sight line of one of the area's emerging clutch shooters....

  8. Region boys basketball: Largo 93, Port Charlotte 83 (OT)

    Preps

    Largo, the defending Class 7A state finalist, erased a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Port Charlotte 93-83 in the region semifinals Tuesday in overtime.

    The Packers (20-7) caught a break late in the fourth quarter when Sean Price, the Pirates' leading scorer, fouled out. Zhahidi Robinson hit clutch free throws down the stretch for Largo.

    "Our backs were against it," Packers coach Phil Price said. "I just told the kids we have to keep playing our game. The shots started finally falling for us."...

  9. Region boys basketball playoff primer

    Preps

    All games start at 7 p.m. Admission is $7.

    Region semifinals

    Class 8A

    Bartow (19-9) at Sickles (25-4): This is a rematch of last year's region quarterfinal that the Yellow Jackets won 59-49. Bartow is a consistent playoff contender that reached the state title game in 2015. The Gryphons are in the region semifinals for the first time since 2013. Sickles is led by Bryce Beamer, Marcus Cohen and Bryce Workman. Expect a low-scoring game. The Yellow Jackets have held each of their past five opponents to 46 points or fewer. The Gryphons have held four straight opponents to 36 or fewer. ...

    Largo's Zhahidi Robinson (14) drives between Clearwater's Gene Culver (30) and Joel Alfred during boys basketball Class 7A-9 district semifinals at Largo High School Wednesday night 2/8/2017.
  10. HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brandon Schultz and Jackie Laihinen

    Preps

    Brandon Schultz, Ridgewood

    Two years ago, Schultz moved to the area from Minnesota. He was more of a sprinter then.

    Former Ridgewood coach Sue Vien wanted to change that. She put a hurdle in front of Schultz and asked him to clear it. He did. His technique was impressive enough that Vien turned him into a hurdler.

    It was a good move. Schultz has turned into one of the top hurdlers in the state. He already has set school records at 110 and 300 meters. Last season, he finished second in the 110 hurdles at the Class 2A state meet....

    Carrollwood Day basketball player Jackie Laihinen
  11. HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings

    Softballpreps

    1. Land O'Lakes (2-0)

    This week: Tuesday vs. Anclote; Wednesday at Hudson; Thursday at Wesley Chapel

    Scoop: The defending Class 6A state semifinalists got off to a strong start, beating Wiregrass Ranch and Dunnellon by a combined 20-6. Callie Turner, a sophomore who has already committed to Tennessee, has taken over as the ace. In the first two games, she has an ERA of 1.00 and 27 strikeouts. Turner has had plenty of support on offense with nine players who have knocked in at least one run. ...

    Callie Turner is already off to a hot start as Land O'Lakes' new ace this season. (Octavio Jones, Times)
  12. HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for Feb. 11-17

    Blog

    Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Feb. 11 through Friday, Feb. 17. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

    Female nominees

    Natalie Abernathy, track, Land O’Lakes: The sophomore soccer standout won the 3,200 at the Early Bird Invitational in 11:20.01, more that 24 seconds faster than her time at state last year....

  13. Region boys basketball: Tampa Bay Tech 64, Countryside 60

    Preps

    TAMPA — The wins kept coming this season for Tampa Bay Tech — 22 straight to be exact entering Thursday's Class 8A region quarterfinals.

    All but one of those victories were decided by double digits. As the blowouts kept coming, there was some concern how battle-tested the Titans would be entering the postseason. Only four wins during their impressive streak came against teams that made the playoffs this season, three of them coming against rival Plant City....

  14. Sophomore sensation Alexis Kilfoyl catches eye of USA Softball

    Softballpreps

    Diane Stephenson, hired in July as softball coach at Academy of the Lakes, kept hearing about a young pitcher she was about to inherit.

    Stephenson knows talent. She spent 16 years as the coach at Indiana University. Last month, she decided to check out her new ace during tryouts for the 2017 USA Softball junior women's national training team.

    Alexis Kilfoyl, a sophomore, was among 24 players competing to join the team. Her pitches arrived at the catcher's mitt with such impact that they resounded throughout the park. ...

    Academy at the Lakes softball player Alexis Kilfoyl
  15. Region basketball grab bag: Central earns Cinderella stripes after upset

    Preps

    Central entered last week's Class 6A, District 7 title game in the familiar role of underdog.

    The Bears were playing rival Nature Coast, a program that has dominated Hernando County competition in recent years.

    Few thought the Sharks could lose. After all, Nature Coast finished the regular season undefeated for the first time. And the Sharks had won 17 straight against Central and were 62-1 against county foes since 2010....

    A healthy Darius Banks is a big asset for St. Petersburg, which has state title aspirations again this year after reaching the final in 2016.