Northeast's Tony Lovett, Pinellas' leading scorer in boys basketball, has been named the Florida Athletic Coaches Association player of the year for District 14 (Pinellas), Northeast coach Dave Redding said this week. Lovett, a senior, was selected for the honor from a group of seven nominees by six Pinellas high school coaches. Lovett, averaging 27.0 points and 10.4 assists per game, was picked over Gerald Jones (Largo), Anthony Foster (Dixie Hollins), Sean Pell and Marvin Jackson (Clearwater), Mike Pennie (Clearwater Central Catholic) and Louis Rowe (Lakewood).
_ STAFF REPORTS
Three district tourneys open today
CLEARWATER _ Only in the all-Pinellas Class 4A, District 7 tournament is the county assured a boys basketball district champion. The 4A-7, 4A-8 and 2A-11 tournaments begin today. The other local tournaments (A-10, 3A-11) began earlier this week.
In the 4A-7 tournament at Clearwater, six Pinellas teams will play for a title to be decided Saturday night. The top seeds, No.
1 Clearwater (21-8) and No.
2 Countryside (20-7), have first-round byes. Traditionally, this has been a wide-open district tournament. Countryside upset top-seeded Clearwater in last year's final.
Sarasota (23-6) is the top seed in the 4A-8 tournament at Bradenton-Manatee. The Sailors, ranked No.
5 in the 4A state poll, and second-seeded Northeast (20-8) have first-round byes tonight.
At the 2A-11 tournament at Tampa Catholic, Sarasota-Cardinal Mooney (20-7), No.
9 in the 2A state poll, is the top seed. Clearwater Central Catholic (13-12), which has split two games with Mooney, is seeded fourth and plays Tampa Catholic tonight at 8.
_ KEVIN THOMAS
Patriots' coach: "I wasn't worried'
SARASOTA _ If Pinellas Park girls basketball coach Ed Jackson wasn't nervous Tuesday, he may have been the only one in the gym who wasn't.
His second-ranked Patriots (32-1) trailed by 11 points in the second half against sixth-ranked Sarasota Riverview. The Pats, though, rallied to lead early in the fourth quarter and hung on to win the Class 4A, Region IV title 75-71.
Guard Angela Meiser and center Shaunta Williams each sank two free throws in the final 37 seconds.
"I wasn't worried," Jackson said. "As long as Antonette (Preston) and Meiser are on the floor, that cancels out most worries .
. When you've got two people of that character, you don't have to worry."
Meiser scored 11 of her team-high 21 points after intermission and Preston added 14 points to send the Pats to Saturday's Section II game at home against Lakeland (26-7). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
For a team that breezed through the regular season, the Patriots, state runners-up last season, have shown composure and character in pulling out two title games. Meiser hit three consecutive three-pointers as the Pats overcame an 11-point deficit and beat Clearwater 67-63 in the 4A-District 7 final last week.
"You have to live with these kids to know them. They're winners all the way around," Jackson said. "They've been to the big dance and they know what it takes."
_ DARRELL FRY
Hardee center shot down Marauders
WAUCHULA _ It took one half for Wauchula-Hardee senior center Kim Crawford to make her presence known to Clearwater Central Catholic Tuesday in the Class A, Region VI girls basketball game.
Crawford, averaging 20.1 points per game, was limited to two points in the first half, which ended in a 14-14 tie.
"That was a tough defense they (CCC) were playing on me," said Crawford, who is being recruited by Florida and Florida State. "I just tried to get my teammates to loop the ball to me after halftime."
Behind Crawford's 17 points and 11 rebounds in the second half, Hardee won 51-43.
"She was certainly tough," CCC coach Dean Soles said. "We've faced bigger girls, but she was a terrific athlete."
_ WAYNE McKNIGHT