After watching Gibbs' Trayvon Bromell run people down and earn national acclaim, Hillsborough's Jeremiah Green reduce the triple jump to a battle for distant second, Lakewood's Griffin twins Shaquille and Shaquem jump and run to new heights, Lakewood's T.J. Holmes hurdle every obstacle effortlessly, and, of course, the Spartan boys exhilarating one-point win for a state title, it must be asked:...
The suspenders are the first thing you notice about Lennard High School boys basketball coach Danny Gaddis.
Specked with little Longhorns, they frame his burnt orange tie.
"I thought it'd be a good touch," he said.
By the second quarter of games, Gaddis' suspenders hang around his waist. He fiddles with his tie, adjusts his glasses, yells instructions.
He looks like a basketball coach, which is the point....
Back in November, Craig Bowman wasn't where the conversation about Tampa Bay's best points guards started.
But in March, he may be where it ends.
The Berkeley Prep senior will lead his Bucs (27-3) into the Lakeland Center today for a Class 4A state semifinal against Lake Highland Prep, looking to cap a breakout season with a state title.
"I think I've surprised a lot of people this year," said Bowman, the Bucs' floor general. "When I saw I wasn't ranked in the top 25 players this year, it kind of hurt me. I wanted to prove I belonged in that group."...
RUSKIN — If Saturday night's Class 6A region final between Lehigh and his Lennard team was truly like a boxing match, as coach Danny Gaddis said, then ding, ding, ding.
It's the Longhorns by TKO.
In front of a packed house in their own gymnasium, Lennard outworked and outplayed Lehigh in a decisive 74-63 win, sending the program to its first state semifinal.
After a slow start, Gaddis reminded his upstart veteran club to just do what it always does: throw lots of punches....
Everyone, they say, loves Sabrina Whiting.
"Everyone," teammate Peyton Walker said.
"Everyone," sophomore Brooke Boyce said.
"Everyone," older sister Savannah said.
It should be noted that Boyce and Savannah said this, and more wonderful things about the wonderful Seffner Christian guard, as they stood in the Lakeland Center on Wednesday night holding gigantic cutouts of Whiting's head in their hands....
ST. PETERSBURG — Michael Clark has been unable to decipher his role for Lakewood this season after transferring over from Boca Ciega.
Tuesday night, he finally found the answer:
Right underneath the basket.
The senior cleaned up after his teammates time after time in a Class 5A region semifinal against Gibbs, boosting Lakewood past the Gladiators 63-60.
"I knew I was going to be the clean-up guy," said Clark, who finished with 23 points. "I had to find a way to get myself in the game and going at the rim is how I do that."...
His defense was superlative.
His offense was timely.
His relief filled the gymnasium.
Looking down at his right hand, which hadn't dribbled and shot and defended at full speed in more than a month — and had been out of a cast for only three days — Gibbs High School senior guard Shaq Speights smiled.
"It feels good," he said.
Speights' return last week in a region quarterfinal win over defending state champion Jesuit, a game in which he held the Tigers' leading scorer to nine points, has reinvigorated the Gladiators heading into tonight's 8 p.m. showdown with neighborhood rival Lakewood at Eckerd College. It is the first region playoff game between the programs....
TAMPA — When guard Shaquille Speights broke his right hand in January, he believed his season was over. And others believed the same about Gibbs' state championship hopes.
But Thursday, Speights made his return and, like the Gladiators, he is far from done.
Riding a strong defensive effort in the second half, Gibbs broke open a tie game and cruised to a 60-45 victory over defending state champion Jesuit in a Class 5A region quarterfinal....
SEFFNER — The Armwood plan Tuesday night was to stop Dixie Hollins' Meagan Thomas from scoring.
The plan worked so well in the first quarter that the entire Dixie Hollins team failed to score.
The Hawks scored the first 26 points in the Class 6A region semifinal, then coasted to a 55-40 win over a game, but overmatched Rebels team.
Armwood (26-4) will travel to Naples Barron Collier on Saturday for the region championship....
The latest class of Tampa Bay football recruits is signed, sealed and soon to be delivered to college campuses across the country, from as close as Fowler Avenue all the way to Pullman, Wash.
The boys of 2014 hold a lot of promise. And maybe one day, they will go down as part of the best class ever to come out of Tampa Bay. But for now, they have their work cut out for them.
We ranked the top Tampa Bay classes of the past 25 years, taking into account high school rankings, college success and ultimately how much success they found in the pros....
TAMPA — Berkeley Prep held Tampa Catholic scoreless for the last 2:54 of their Class 4A, District 10 championship game, and Marshall Holmes made all four of his free throw attempts in that span as the Bucs edged the Crusaders 68-55 Friday.
It was the sixth straight year the teams played in the district championship game and it was Berkeley Prep's fourth victory in those games.
The Crusaders missed four potential go-ahead or tying shots down the stretch. They had the ball with a chance to win with 32 seconds left but never got a shot off. A bad pass carried Chivarsky Corbett out of bounds with 6 seconds left, eventually allowing Holmes to seal the victory at the line....
Before signing the papers that bound him to the Florida Atlantic football program, Devin Santana let out a slow, deep breath.
The Sickles High all-county defensive end was the most relieved person in the room Wednesday, and after scribbling his name, the second-most relieved person in the room, his mother, Jackie Santana, came up behind him to pose for pictures.
They were happy. Overjoyed, really....
BRANDON — Brandon coach Jamie Turner knew that to upset East Bay in Tuesday's district semifinals, point guard Jonathan Jean needed to be slowed, harassed and befuddled.
He couldn't score 18 points like he did in their previous meeting.
He couldn't race up and down the court and dictate the pace of the game.
And by no means was he allowed to drive and dish.
"It had to be done," said Brandon junior Pedro Lopez, who went out and did it....
His high school career began in a tiny gymnasium in Naples, his first points coming off — predictably — a dunk.
But any kid who is pushing 6 feet, 10 inches can dunk.
It's how Tampa Prep's Juwan Durham got there that made it impressive, starting on the other end of the court by drifting down toward the basket and altering a shot, blocking the putback and in one smooth motion grabbing the outlet pass and heading up court....
If the Class of 2014 is defined by its size, the Class of 2015 might be defined by its stealth.
Sure, you still have the beef, including Plant offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen (6 feet 5, 280 pounds) and Armwood defensive lineman Byron Cowart (6-4, 250). But scanning the list of Tampa Bay's top prospects for the upcoming season, you are struck by the speed.
The potential for playmaking....