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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam is a fourth-generation Floridian who was born in St. Petersburg and graduated from Dixie Hollins High School (Class of '91). He went to St. Petersburg College (1991-93) and USF (1993-95) before working at the Times as a staff writer in 1996.

Phone: (727) 445-4169


  1. Tampa Bay district boys basketball preview


    This week's district boys basketball tournaments will feature an eclectic mix: the brand-name teams, the underdogs, the overlooked and the never-saw-it-coming. • For those who crave upsets, look no further than the No. 3 seeds, the teams that just missed out on securing one of the two coveted spots in the tournament but have played well enough to knock out a team seeded higher to reach the playoffs. • There are third-seeded teams that have overcome long losing droughts and others with some impressive upsets on their regular-season resumes. • Here are the most intriguing ones:...

    Chedonio Martin is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds a game for Dunedin.
  2. District girls basketball: Countryside 52, Northeast 45


    ST. PETERSBURG — Countryside hopes of winning the school's first district title in girls basketball since 1993 did not start off well. The Cougars had two quick turnovers and fell behind 6-0 within the first two minutes against Northeast in Friday's Class 7A, District 9 final.

    Still, Cougars coach Tony Klemmer was not worried.

    His team has often had slow starts this season. It didn't take long for Countryside to wake up, rallying to lead then holding off the Vikings in a 52-45 win....

    From left, Almira Jones, Kristin Gaston and Kellie Gaston of Countryside cheer after their teams claims its first district championship since 1993 by defeating Northeast.
  3. Region boys soccer: Goalie's clutch play lifts East Lake


    ST. PETERSBURG — After a collision in overtime, East Lake goalkeeper Sean Caulfield writhed on the ground in pain. He hobbled to the sideline, unsure if he would return for the game — or the season — after suffering what he said could be ligament damage to his knee.

    But it didn't take long for Caulfield to know he was going to keep playing Thursday.

    "I couldn't go out like that," Caulfield said. "I saw how hard everyone else on the team was fighting. If they were out there playing that hard, I had to be back out there fighting for them."...

  4. District girls basketball: Lakewood's turnaround evident


    ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks ago, Lakewood was floundering at 7-8 after losing to Bradenton Southeast and ultimately dropping to the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A, District 10 tournament.

    Now, the Spartans are the hottest team in Pinellas County with nine straight wins after beating Bradenton Bayshore 50-44 in Wednesday's district semifinals. Lakewood (16-8) gets the chance to exact revenge against No. 1 seed Bradenton Southeast in Friday's championship game. The Seminoles advanced with a 52-36 win....

    Class 6A-10: After scrapping for the ball, Dixie Hollins’ Alexis Bailey, center,  prepares to pass to teammate Hana Rizzo.
  5. East Lake's basketball coach crafts his own identity



    East Lake boys basketball coach Joe Bloznalis, who was battling Stage 3 lung cancer, announced four months ago that he was stepping down after 19 seasons.

    It was a difficult moment for a basketball program struggling to build tradition and momentum at a high school known more for its prowess in football.

    But amid all the uncertainty, the Eagles have prospered under Britt Taylor, who was promoted from assistant head coach. The Eagles, 15-6 entering the last week of the regular season, have already wrapped up the No. 2 seed in next week's Class 7A, District 9 tournament. ...

    East Lake High’s Seth Hutsenpiller attempts a 3-pointer against Seminole High’s Jadarius Robinson at a Jan. 9 game.
  6. Tarpon Springs names Countryside assistant Mike Lube football coach


    Tarpon Springs has hired Countryside assistant Mike Lube as its new football coach, athletic director Kris Toscani confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Lube replaces Ron Hawn, who resigned after three full seasons.

    "Tarpon Springs is one of the dream jobs in the county," Lube said. "I'm thrilled to work with such a strong community with a great athletic program. The school also has strong backing academically."...

  7. Land O'Lakes' running family remembers Kris Keppel


    Land O'Lakes High School runners, along with faculty members, gathered about 200 strong around the track Monday afternoon to complete one lap. They did it in memory of the school's beloved cross country coach, Kris Keppel, who died Sunday after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.

    "Coach Keppel was just authentic," said Land O'Lakes senior Kyle Honn, one of the cross country team's captains. "He cared so much for the runners and the whole community. He wanted to be there with us even until the very end. This was just a nice tribute for him."...

    Longtime Land O’Lakes cross country coach Kris Keppel, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, died Sunday. The funeral is Saturday morning at Our Lady of the Rosary.
  8. Kris Keppel, Land O'Lakes cross country coach, dies of cancer


    Kris Keppel, who coached Land O'Lakes High's cross country teams for 21 years, died Sunday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 53.

    Mr. Keppel died at Gulfside Hospice in Zephyrhills, where he was admitted Saturday after his family could no longer take care of his pain.

    "Kris could no longer walk or eat on his own, but he was as upbeat as anyone would be, even until his last day," said Mr. Keppel's wife, Darlene....

    Land O’Lakes’ Kris Keppel, who died Sunday, and wife Darlene were married for 29 years and had two daughters.
  9. HomeTeam 25 recruit rankings for 2015, 2016


    HomeTeam 25 for 2015

    Tampa Bay recruits — from our four-county coverage area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando) — as ranked by Tampa Bay Times staff.

    Name, schoolPos.Ht/WtSchools
    1. Byron Cowart, ArmwoodDE6-4/250Undecided: Florida, FSU, Auburn
    2. Deon Cain, Tampa Bay TechWR6-1/195Clemson
    3. George Campbell, East LakeWR6-3/184FSU
    4. Ray Ray McCloud III, SicklesATH5-9/175Clemson
    5. Jake Fruhmorgen, PlantOT6-5/280Clemson
    6. Ryan Davis, LakewoodWR5-9/167Undecided: Florida, FSU, Auburn, Kentucky
    7. Auden Tate, WhartonWR6-4/215FSU
    8. Dwayne Lawson, HillsboroughQB6-6/207Virginia Tech
    9. Marques Ford, East BayDE6-4/230Rutgers
    10. Christian Pellage, Nature CoastOL6-7/282South Carolina
    11. Jordan Griffin, ArmwoodLB6-0/207Wisconsin
    12. Jeff Smith, Clearwater Central CatholicQB6-1/170Boston College
    13. Carson Lydon, East LakeLB6-2/243Virginia Tech
    14. Kyle Henderson, PlantDT6-2/280Georgia Tech
    15. Aaron Covington, ArmwoodCB5-9/175Undecided: USF, UCF, Maryland, Toledo
    16. Andrew Ivie, PascoDT6-1/265Florida
    17. Jonathan Crawford, LargoS6-2/175Indiana
    18. Billy Atterbury, Clearwater Central CatholicOT6-4/285USF
    19. Justin Strnad, East LakeLB6-3/205Wake Forest
    20. Jahrvis Davenport, RobinsonW5-10/180Maryland
    21. Bowman Archibald, PascoTE6-5/244Wake Forest
    22. Derrick Baity, PlantCB6-2/170Undecided: UCF, USF, Kentucky, Penn State
    23. Sawyer Dawson, Plant CityLB6-1/200Purdue
    24. Jordan Reed, PlantWR5-9/168USF
    25. Kenyatta Anderson, Boca CiegaCB6-1/185Undecided: Cincinnati, Pitt, Rutgers

  10. District boys soccer: PHU tops East Lake in PKs for 5A-7 title


    EAST LAKE — From tough defense to cramping desperation, rivals Palm Harbor University and East played valiantly through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods in the Class 5A, District 7 championship game. With no score, they extended the game as far as it could go — to the drama of penalty kicks.

    The end came on the final kick of the first round Friday, when the Hurricanes' Ryan Cooksey hit a shot that sailed past the arms of diving Eagles goalkeeper Sean Caulfield to give PHU a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks and the title....

    Palm Harbor University’s Hayden Grooms makes a save against East Lake during penalty kicks in the Hurricanes’ win
  11. Region girls soccer: Palm Harbor University 2, St. Petersburg 0


    PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University's leading scorer, Marisa Ruland, was a spectator for Thursday's Class 5A region quarterfinal against St. Petersburg.

    She had a bruised elbow and strained quadriceps, and Hurricane defender Allyssa Woodring was limited because of a sprained ankle.

    With the injuries mounting, this was the playoff game that tested PHU's character as well as its grit. The Hurricanes survived, beating St. Petersburg 2-0....

  12. Green Devils basketball team racks up wins


    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest question hanging over St. Petersburg High School's boys basketball team was whether a starting lineup that consists of three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman could resist cracking under the pressure of a fan base accustomed to watching the program make deep playoff runs.

    Yes, these Devils truly were green, but the fledgling lineup is starting to reach its potential, with 10 straight victories and a 14-5 record entering the week. Now, St. Petersburg is in contention for a berth in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game and the top seed in the Class 8A, District 7 tournament....

    St. Petersburg High’s Darius Banks (5) goes up for a shot against Winter Park’s Austin Goodluck (32) in the 8A region final last season.
  13. Options aplenty sway top recruits away from state colleges


    There was a time when Sickles High School running back Ray Ray McCloud III envisioned playing for Florida State.

    The Seminoles were among his many suitors. But as McCloud's recruitment picked up, along with his options, he became more open to playing at another school — including one of the Seminoles' rivals.

    In the end, McCloud did not choose FSU as his college destination, instead picking Clemson, a school 574 miles away from home....

    Artavis Scott, who had the likes of Miami, Florida and FSU after him while at East Lake, chose Clemson.
  14. Boys basketball: Gibbs 77, Lakewood 54


    ST. PETERSBURG ­— Forget about Gibbs' 11-8 record entering Tuesday's game against rival Lakewood. Pay no attention to the Gladiators' two-game losing streak heading into one of their most pivotal games of the season.

    Gibbs coach Larry Murphy fashioned a schedule that yields few easy nights. After all, six of the eight losses this season are to national or state ranked teams. The lumps the Gladiators have taken on the court were designed to prepare them for the next month when the district tournament and postseason rolls around....

  15. IMG snaps up Blake's Shavar Manuel, No. 2 prospect for 2016


    Five-star defensive end Shavar Manuel is the latest in a string of top Tampa Bay area football players to transfer to IMG Academy. Former Blake coach Darryl Gordon confirmed the move Monday.

    Manuel, a 6-foot-3, 262-pound junior who recorded 61 tackles and 20 sacks last season for the Yellow Jackets, is ranked No. 2 in ESPN's top 300 recruits for the class of 2016. He has 13 Division I-A offers, including ones from Florida, Florida State and Miami. ...

    Dalton Collins committed to Air Force over the weekend.