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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

Email: putnam@tampabay.com

  1. State boys basketball: Tarpon Springs fades down the stretch


    LAKELAND — Throughout the season, Tarpon Springs' up-tempo offense was run with such efficiency that defenders might as well have been folding chairs for all the opposition they presented.

    The Spongers' frenzied pace was a big reason they set school records for wins (30), longest win streak (18) and advanced to the final four for the first time since 1943.

    But after having buckets of fun with its helter-skelter attack, Tarpon Springs came face-to-face with a team athletic enough to handle its running game. That resulted in poor shots and an avalanche of turnovers in a 65-59 loss to Tallahassee Rickards in the Class 5A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center....

    Scottie James, right, attempts to shoot over Rickards’ Reynard Wade. James led the Spongers with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
  2. State boys basketball: Nationally-ranked foe takes out Gibbs


    LAKELAND — Gibbs played a challenging schedule this season that yielded few easy nights. Losses piled up early, and that was fine. The plan all along was to get ready for postseason games such as the one the Gladiators played Friday at the Lakeland Center.

    Still, it wasn't enough for Gibbs to contend with Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, ranked 13th in the nation by USA Today....

    Cardinal Gibbons’ Melvin Brooks, left, denies Gibbs’ Sajon Ford as he drives to the basket.
  3. State boys basketball: Tarpon Springs' big man takes center stage


    TARPON SPRINGS — Today, basketball aficionados will get their first extended view of Tarpon Springs forward Scottie James when his team takes on Tallahassee Rickards in the Class 5A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center.

    What they will see is a player who combines the best elements of the most versatile big men in the sport. A great rebounder, an accurate shooter with range and, above all, a ferocious competitor who seems to grow stronger as the game gets longer....

    Scottie James of Tarpon Springs uses his 7-foot arm span and 6-foot-7 frame to be equally strong in scoring and rebounding.
  4. State boys basketball: St. Pete High falls in Class 8A state semis


    LAKELAND — St. Petersburg was trying to take the feel-good vibes from its first three playoff games and extrapolate them to unprecedented levels in Thursday's Class 8A state semifinal against Oviedo Hagerty.

    The Green Devils, hoping to advance to the basketball championship for the first time since 1935, watched as their improbable run through the postseason came to an end in a 57-51 loss at the Lakeland Center....

    Travis Bianco drives to the basket, but his team-high 14 points are not enough to lift St. Petersburg past Oviedo Hagerty in Thursday’s Class 8A state semifinal at Lakeland.
  5. State title would trump PCAC disappointment for Gibbs, Tarpon


    Gibbs and Tarpon Springs were supposed to meet last month in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference high school boys basketball championship game.

    The matchup never happened. The Spongers were unable to play because they had scheduled too many games during the regular season.

    Now, the teams possibly could meet Saturday with something much bigger at stake: a state title.

    Gibbs (21-8) and Tarpon Springs (30-1) both advanced to the Class 5A state final four. It is the first time two Pinellas County teams from the same classification have made the state semifinals in the same season. To play each other, they'll have to get past their semifinal games Friday at the Lakeland Center....

    Kansas State recruit Barry Brown has been a consistent leader for Gibbs, averaging 23 points per game, but this will be his first trip to the state tournament in Lakeland.
  6. State basketball: A first, final milestone for Academy at the Lakes' Haslams


    In the pandemonium following the biggest win in school history, Academy at the Lakes boys basketball coach Tom Haslam went looking for his son Ethan, who also happens to be his best player.

    After a 10-minute search on a homecourt filled with raucous fans, the two found each other underneath the basket as they waited to cut down the net.

    Before they could even get around to hugging, both burst into tears....

    Senior Ethan Haslam’s scoring prowess is a key reason Academy at the Lakes is in its first state final four.
  7. Region boys basketball: Trio of Pinellas teams advance to state


    TARPON SPRINGS — The clock was exhausted and Jerry Woodka awaited the inevitable, standing with his hands at his knees along the Tarpon Springs bench.

    He was about to become the first coach to take the Spongers boys basketball program to the state final four in 72 years.

    As the 68-60 victory over Gainesville Eastside on Saturday approached, Woodka smiled, he screamed, he shook his head slightly in wonder and, finally, held his hands above his head like a referee signaling touchdown....

  8. Track: Admiral Farragut girls, Lakewood boys take titles at city meet


    ST. PETERSBURG — Admiral Farragut's girls track team has always done well at the Class A level.

    Now, the Blue Jackets are showing they can compete against teams from all classifications, especially after outdistancing Lakewood 155.5-108 for their first team title at the fourth annual St. Petersburg City Championship meet.

    "It was an impressive showing for us this early in the season," Admiral Farragut coach Phil Barnhill said....

  9. Boys basketball: Tarpon Springs basks in a rare spotlight


    TARPON SPRINGS — Twice in the past month, Tarpon Springs players and coaches met in the gymnasium on the weekend to cut down the nets. The ceremony served as a way to commemorate season-long goals of finishing undefeated in conference play against Pinellas County opponents and having a perfect record against Class 5A, District 8 foes.

    On each occasion, the players did not leave the court until the cord had been cut and passed among them. Each kept a piece as a keepsake....

  10. Boys basketball notebook: East Bay savors long-awaited return to region finals


    The East Bay players converged at midcourt to celebrate. They jumped and shouted, and when they finally started to disperse, they hugged each other.

    With a 61-55 victory against Freedom, the Indians secured a spot in the Class 7A region finals for the first time since 1968, ending an extensive playoff drought when it comes to advancing past the third round.

    East Bay coach Billy Teeden, 34, was not even born when the program made its last region final appearance....

  11. Admiral Farragut track standout comes full circle at City Championship



    Admiral Farragut Academy standout Brittany McGee and the St. Petersburg City Track meet have shared quite a bit of history.

    In 2012, McGee made her high school debut at the inaugural meet, winning three events — the long jump (18 feet, 1/2 inch), the high jump (5-4) and the 100-meter hurdles (15.15 seconds).

    Her mark in the long jump was a half-inch off the state's best at the time, regardless of classification. McGee's time in the 100 hurdles was two-tenths of a second off the state's top time, and she was 2 inches off the state's best mark in the high jump....

    Admiral Farragut’s Brittany McGee claims three medals in the Class 1A and 2A Track and Field Championship at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville last season.
  12. Region boys basketball: Gibbs 49, Jesuit 48, OT


    ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs' Barry Brown ran a 90-foot dash in roughly four seconds Tuesday. That the Kansas State signee also managed to toss in a swooping layup left Jesuit in disbelief.

    The Gladiators trailed 48-47 in the final 17 seconds of overtime when Brown, a turbo guard, started his cross-court journey. He grabbed the ball under his own basket, freed himself from the crowd by midcourt and put in a left-handed layup for what turned out to be the winning basket in a 49-48 victory in the Class 5A region semifinals....

  13. Region boys basketball: Tampa Prep prevails, but may lose Durham


    TAMPA — Seffner Christian took the air out of the ball.

    But that's not what left the Tampa Prep fans deflated after its 52-35 Class 3A region semifinal victory Tuesday night.

    Tampa Prep 6-foot-9 junior center and Division I prospect Juwan Durham went to the hospital with an undisclosed right knee injury, taking the luster off the Terrapins' eighth trip to the region finals in nine years. Tampa Prep will host Orlando First Academy on Friday....

  14. East Lake High's softball builds its muscle



    By all accounts, East Lake High School was successful in softball last season. The Eagles, under first-year coach Kristie Delk, won six of their final seven games to secure their eighth straight playoff berth, as well as their first postseason victory in three years.

    East Lake's late-season run was due largely to a productive offense that averaged five runs per game and scored at least eight runs in four of the final six. But as Delk started to pore over the statistics, she noticed one area where the Eagles were deficient: Power....

    East Lake’s Maddie Bertisch (24) is safe at first as Countryside’s Keeley Mayers (22) does the splits to catch the ball in the district softball final 7A-9 at Pinellas Park High last year. 
  15. Boys basketball: Seminole's Marco Behori overcomes small size with big skills


    SEMINOLE — Here he comes, shaking, baking and shoulder faking his way through the bay area, leaving defenders knock-kneed with an assortment of moves.

    Marco Behori is at his best when the ball is in his hands. He can improvise. He can dissect defenses. And he can flat out score.

    What the Seminole High senior cannot do is dodge the computer-printout prejudices colleges have when it comes to basketball prospects. After all, college programs, no matter the level, measure players not only by how many points they can score but by increments of height....

    Seminole’s Marco Behori, driving to the basket against East Lake, hopes college recruiters look beyond his 5-11 frame.