BRADENTON — In 2011, East Lake's girls team finished last at the district meet. Since then, the Eagles have gone through a remarkable transformation and have become consistent title contenders under coach Britt Taylor.
On Thursday, East Lake won its third straight team title at the Class 4A, District 8 meet. That was expected considering how much the numbers have soared during their recent success. Fielding perhaps the deepest team in school history, the Eagles outscored Sarasota Riverview 164-138 to win by the widest margin in their three-year title run....
CLEARWATER — Unable to match the superior depth of Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota, the Pinellas County schools competing at Wednesday's Class 3A, District 10 meet had to concede team titles and focus on individual ones.
Clearwater's Steven Randall started the day off by running anchor leg on the winning 4x800 relay team (eight minutes, 16.67 seconds). He also finished second in the 800 (2:01.93)....
TAMPA — After missing out on a district team title by 1½ points last season, Berkeley Prep's girls track made sure there was no doubt in Tuesday's Class 2A, District 10 meet.
The Buccaneers scored 239 points, 55 ahead of Academy of the Holy Names.
Despite graduating several athletes and having a trio of eighth-graders battle through injuries, Berkeley Prep was able to showcase its depth and qualify athletes for next week's region meet in 16 of 17 events....
TAMPA — Destinee Elmore bats ninth in Wharton's lineup for a reason. She is more of a singles hitter who bunts and slaps to get on base.
In fact, Elmore had yet to produce an extra-base hit this season entering Monday's Class 8A, District 7 quarterfinal game against Riverview.
In the fifth inning, Elmore had two strikes and was forced to swing away. She smacked a pitch that sailed over the left-centerfield fence for a solo home run, the first of her career. That blast tied the score at 2 and an inning later Mackenzie Allen scored the winning run off an error for a 3-2 victory....
To get an idea of how topsy-turvy this softball season can be, look no farther than Plant.
The Panthers started the season 2-3 and seemed to be on the outside looking in for a playoff berth in the ultra-competitive Class 8A, District 7.
After that slow start, Plant became one of the hottest teams in the bay area, finishing out the regular season by winning 17 of 19 games to surge to the top of the district standings. One of the losses during that span came against Alonso, which is last in the district and the only team in 8A-7 with a losing regular-season record (11-12)....
ST. PETERSBURG — Canterbury was devoid of its power-hitting capabilities Friday.
The Crusaders had just five hits and did not produce many runs early on against Admiral Farragut pitcher Corynn Miner, a Tampa recruit who kept Canterbury's potent lineup off-balance.
Because of that, the philosophy on the bases was simple. Take whatever Miner and the Blue Jackets were willing to give. And then take some more....
CLEARWATER — Relying on its dominance in the relays and considerable depth in the sprints, Indian Rocks Christian's boys won their fourth straight team championship at the Class 1A, District 9 track meet Thursday with 192.5 points, 61 more than runnerup Calvary Christian.
The Golden Eagles swept the relays, winning the 4x100 meters (43.61 seconds), 4x400 (3:37.07) and 4x800 (8:35.47). IRC's Jacquan Fuller, a standout in football, took first in the 100 (11.07). He was among three Golden Eagles who finished in the top in the event....
Tyrie Adams looks up to LeBron James, not just as a basketball idol but also as a reference of sorts.
The Dixie Hollins High School three-sport star knows he can clear the four-time NBA MVP. Adams is not just talking about leaping in front of James for an in-your-face jam. Adams is talking about getting a running start then leaping while turning his back to James and clearing him Fosbury-flop style with room to spare....
When Notre Dame plays in Tuesday's NCAA championship game, the Irish will be competing for their second title in program history. But for coach Muffet McGraw, there's even more on the line in her team's fourth tournament final appearance in five years. • McGraw, in her 28th season at the helm for the Irish, earned her 699th win at Notre Dame with the 66-65 semifinal victory against South Carolina on Sunday night. A win against the Huskies would give the Irish two milestones in one. • When the season began, McGraw didn't think either would be possible. • Notre Dame lost three starters from last season, including Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa, both first-round WNBA draft picks. The pair averaged a combined 32.5 points and 13 rebounds. • So when this year's squad began practicing, McGraw didn't sugarcoat their chances. • "I remember thinking that and telling the team, 'We lost 40 percent of our offense, 40 percent of our rebounds and 40 percent of our assists,' " McGraw said. "We really were a very different team." • McGraw said her young team had growing pains early. They struggled to communicate at times, and the Irish didn't know who their leader was going to be. McGraw gave credit to her staff for helping ease the first-year players into the college game, and freshman Brianna Turner seemed to handle it well, averaging 13.7 points during the season and chipping in 17 before fouling out late against the Gamecocks. • "I would say for us to be at this point right now," she said, "I think we overachieved to get here." • McGraw can only hope the surprises keep coming....
TAMPA — Maryland is one of the most dominant teams in women's basketball this season with a 34-2 record, including 18-0 in Big Ten Conference and a school-record 28-game win streak.
Still, entering Sunday's national semifinal against the Connecticut, the Terrapins were working to the side of the main stage as an overwhelming underdog.
After all, the Huskies (36-1) owned the nation's longest win streak at 35 games, are in the Final Four for the ninth straight season and seeking their 10th national title....
TAMPA — For the past two seasons, Maryland has become one the country's talked-about teams thanks to a plethora of playmakers. Lexie Brown, though, is the one who makes the Terrapins' go-go offense go.
The sophomore is a model point guard, measuring defenders and calculating angles, all while considering her options at warp speed until determining the right instant to present a teammate with the ball and, more often than not, the best chance for a bucket....
By Bob Putnam | Times Staff Writer
Hillsborough County Player of the Year: F Juwan Durham, Jr., Tampa Prep
One of the best big men in the nation, the 6-foot-10 power forward made his presence known around the basket, averaging 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks. Ranked 24th nationally in the 2016 class, Durham has the length and athleticism that gave the Terrapins an added dimension on both ends of the floor. He helped Tampa Prep win its 10th straight district title and make the Class 3A region finals a seventh straight season. ...
Nature Coast's DeShawn Smith has progressed as a runner with a better understanding of how to use his blockers.
Once Smith sees daylight, he can make the first tackler miss, whether it's with his elusiveness or balance or a feel for where the soft spot is in the defense. He also has the power to break a tackle and downfield speed.
With those kind of attributes, Smith figured he would have had plenty of Division I offers by now. But the junior learned he had to show the same kind of patience in waiting for big-time scholarships as he did in finding open space to run. ...
With a textbook swing, a familiar sight on so many of her hits, Palm Harbor University High School's Logyn Lilley sent a fastball down the middle into rightfield, creating a milestone.
Lilley's first-inning single against St. Petersburg on March 17 gave her 200 hits for her career and she became the first player in Pinellas County — and perhaps the state — to achieve that mark in four years of high school softball. To get an idea of how difficult an accomplishment this is, consider a player would not only have to start every game of her career but average nearly two hits in each one....
03/29/15 Auto racing
ST. PETERSBURG — Indy Lights, the top level in IndyCar's developmental series, started its season in St. Petersburg with significant changes to the design of the car.
The new Dallara IL 15 Mazda car, equipped with a 450 horsepower 2.0 liter engine, made its debut with fast results. Ed Jones, a rookie in Indy Lights, shattered the series record for fastest lap in Friday's qualifying session at 1:05.3193, more than a second ahead of IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe's mark in 2010....