When the Class 4A, District 6 girls basketball tournament begins Thursday at Gaither High School, King coach Ron Carrell will be dressed for success.
Carrell isn't concerned with setting any fashion trends. He just wants to win basketball games.
"I've worn the same outfit for most of the year. The only game I didn't wear it to was one of the games we lost," said Carrell, whose team is 23-2 and ranked No. 8 in the Class 4A state poll.
"I wear a red Polo shirt, blue slacks and argyle socks. Sometimes I'm worried about washing them. When we won the state (in 1988), I wore the same blue shirt to every game. It had a hole under one arm so I had to get rid of it."
King will carry the top seed into the district and will receive a first-round bye. The tournament opens with East Bay (9-11) facing Chamberlain (12-7) Thursday at 4 p.m., followed by Leto (7-12) and Brandon (18-4) at 6 p.m. and Hillsborough (18-2) against Gaither (5-11) at 8 p.m.
The Lions, undefeated against county teams this year, have won 23 straight county games dating to last year. They will face either East Bay or Chamberlain Friday night at 6:30.
"It's going to be an interesting tournament," Carrell said. "We're not taking anything for granted. I think this year's team has the potential to go all the way, but you need a little bit of luck to make that happen. That's where the outfit comes in."
King has a varied attack, with three players averaging double figures. Junior April Lindsey's 16.4 points per game leads the team, while Calandra Clark and Karmen Gadsden are averaging 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the Lions' varied offense is their assist total. King has 399 on the year compared to 143 for its opponents.
"We like to move the ball around, and we've had more success this year than we did in '88," said Carroll, whose state championship team finished the regular season at 17-5. "We're a small team, but we're very fast and very athletic. And we play better defense this year than we did in '88. All year long we've held our opponents' leading scorers under their average."
Three other district tournaments will involve county teams:
Class 4A, District 5
This tournament starts Thursday at Plant City with three games. Bloomingdale (9-15) faces Lake Gibson (13-13) at 2:30 p.m., Winter Haven (15-9) plays Armwood (7-12) at 5, and Plant City (16-8) takes on Lakeland Kathleen at 8.
Lakeland (22-3, the No. 1 seed) will play either Bloomingdale or Lake Gibson on Friday about 7:45 p.m.
"We've finally got everybody back and healthy so I feel good about our chances," Plant City coach Dan Pickern said. "At one time I had four girls on crutches. It was unbelievable. But we won a couple games during that time, and that should key us up for the tournament."
Class 3A, District 10
Host Tampa Bay Vo-Tech (6-10) will be the top seed in this tournament that begins Thursday with Jefferson (4-11) playing Plant (0-19) at 6 p.m. That game will be followed by Tarpon Springs (10-11) vs. East Lake (7-13).
Robinson (5-11) will play Friday night at 6 against the winner of the Jefferson-Plant game, and Vo-Tech faces either East Lake or Tarpon Springs Friday at 8 p.m.
Class 2A, District 11
The small schools will travel to Clearwater Central Catholic for the 2A-11 tournament that begins today. Sarasota-Cardinal Mooney will play River Ridge at 6 p.m. before Academy of Holy Names faces Palmetto at 8 p.m. The tournament continues Thursday when Berkeley Prep (14-4) faces Sarasota Booker at 6 p.m. and Clearwater Central Catholic plays Tampa Catholic at 8.
"I feel like we're playing real well," said Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagastino. "It should be a real interesting tournament because three or four teams are capable of winning it."