1. Archive


An outlook on each Pinellas County team, with last season's record listed in parentheses:

ADMIRAL FARRAGUT (0-12): With a young team and no junior varsity squad, the Blue Jackets are forced to play some seventh- and eighth-graders along with several underclassmen.

BOCA CIEGA (26-7): The Pirates are 141-20 over the past half-decade with five straight district titles and two state crowns. That success probably won't end this year either. Six-foot-2 towers Tia Miller _ a first-team all-county pick as a freshman last season _ and senior Alison Lamb are Boca Ciega's bread and butter down low.

CANTERBURY (10-10): The team won't start practice until Monday, so first-year coach Glenn Smith still is unsure what lies ahead. Senior guard Tasha Peacock and junior guard Angela Herzik are both key returners. Smith will emphasize a pressing defense.

CLEARWATER (29-5): The Tornadoes are reloaded for another run at the state title. The Class 5A runners-up from a year ago have three transfers, a solid junior varsity call-up, and two freshmen among the candidates to replace three starters lost to graduation. Junior Shinikki Whiting and senior Molly Worrall were among the county's top-10 scorers last year as Times all-county first-teamers.

CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC (23-6): This is the first time in four years coach Phil McGee will carry freshmen on the roster, and the "new look" Marauders will be much smaller than last year with an average height of 5 feet 6. But make no mistake, the team that was a couple of layups shy of earning the district runner-up spot might actually be better with a deeper bench. A tough schedule also will help CCC come district time.

COUNTRYSIDE (8-15): Optimism is the buzz for the Cougars as Irene Sissois takes over a program with a few talented players. Sissios is a former Tarpon Springs standout who doubles as the volleyball coach. Point guard Rachael Olmo and post player Tacia Gaines (12.9 ppg) were the core for the Cougars last year and the good news is they are only juniors.

DIXIE HOLLINS (5-16): Regina Wilkerson, who was an assistant last year, takes over a team that had one of the worst records in the county. Sandy Swain led the team in points and games played last year.

DUNEDIN (20-6): Perhaps no team has suffered as big a hit as the Falcons, who have fallen from the ranks of the county's elite. Coach Bob Beckman thought he was going to have 11 solid players ready to take the next step; instead he is struggling to field a team. He has lost players to transfer, grades, apathy and even pregnancy. Junior Tina Gillems (15.5 ppg) will take this team as far as it is going.

EAST LAKE (7-16): New coach Joe O'Neill really doesn't have a feel for what kind of team he will have this year, but the future looks bright as 26 players have come out, including 14 freshmen. Everything is new for the Eagles as O'Neill jumps over to the girls ranks after coaching the Countryside boys for more than a decade. He thinks that once he has a chance to teach his system, East Lake will again be among Pinellas' best.

GIBBS (2-20): Young. Very young. The Gladiators return just two veterans and no seniors to a squad that won just two games _ one by forfeit _ last season. Fifth-year coach Eileen Boozy said speed will be her team's greatest asset. Point guard Abby Haugh and center LaToya Felton return.

INDIAN ROCKS CHRISTIAN (25-5): Although they lost Jenifer Heidenreich to graduation, the Golden Eagles do have seven returning players from a team that was ranked fifth in the state last year, including seniors Heather McConnell, Tiffany Englebert and Tacia Keesee.

KESWICK CHRISTIAN (28-7): The Crusaders have made the state final four the past two years and three starters from a year ago _ Kelly Crisp, Robin Wedekind and Heidi Jensen _ are back. Kristal Klepacki and Hannah Felix also figure to get playing time.

LAKESIDE CHRISTIAN (8-7): The loss of senior guard Jill Abasial will be tough to overcome.

LAKEWOOD (12-14): Defense, coach Eddie Jackson said, will be the key to success. And so will senior leadership. Jackson will rely on veterans Janelle Taylor and Karshene Fullen, as well as junior Karshesa Nash. Sophomore Kristen Oliver will likely get the start at point. Six-foot-9} center Alana Renaud still is undecided on whether she will play basketball or concentrate on volleyball.

LARGO (13-12): Coach Quitman Wiggins expects another rebuilding year. Junior guard Tori McGee, last year's team MVP, is the top returner. Sophomores Angela Clifford and Charecia Hillmon are top centers. Freshman guard Deanna Feazell will start.

NORTHEAST (10-11): Top returners include 5-8 center Lawanda Jackson (10.4 ppg) and Christy Shuffler, a 5-5 forward. Add transfer Taborah Miley, a 5-5 guard who transferred from Boca Ciega, and the Vikings could be competitive. Coach Rob Blair, in his second season, expects to compete with Boca Ciega for the district title.

NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN (19-11): The volleyball team is doing very well this year. That's a good thing for volleyball coach Lori Dean, but it could hamper coach Dean Soles' hoops squad early. Five prospective players double on the volleyball court, including leading scorer Alison Mathews (18.3 ppg last year). Those players could stay with the volleyball team through the Nov. 15 state final. Their first basketball game is two days later. "Playing as a team early will be key because we won't have much practice time together," Soles said.

OLDSMAR CHRISTIAN (6-13): Oldsmar was so young last year that it played a junior varsity schedule. This year, coach George Blackwell's team will compete on the varsity level. Junior guard Whitney Kerce and sophomore forward Lindsay Ward are top returners. Senior center Christa Wingert is a transfer who could make a difference.

OSCEOLA (0-20): The Warriors were the only area public school to go winless last season. And with the junior varsity 0-10 last year, the future doesn't look bright. Guard Tamara Wilcox is a bright spot.

PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY (12-5 JV): The Hurricanes join the varsity ranks in yet another sport. The only bad thing is, Palm Harbor will do it without any seniors and just three juniors. But coach Rob McCoy hopes his young team will be able to step in and compete right away, just as the Hurricanes have done in football, swimming and cross country. Stephanie Peacock led the JV team with 14.8 ppg.

PINELLAS PARK (6-13): The Patriots have an abundance of centers, but not a lot of scorers. None of the returning players averaged more than 10 points per game last year.

ST. PETERSBURG (19-4): Although the Green Devils return five seniors this year, St. Petersburg is sorely lacking in experience. Only Sarah Bolleracht, the team's second-leading scorer last year, returns to her starting position at guard, while classmates Lindsay Kopco and Stacy Brown will start at center and point guard respectively. The rest of the field is wide open, 11th-year coach Bonnie Thompson said, and she hopes her team can gain enough experience in the regular season to be a threat in the district tournament.

ST. PETERSBURG CATHOLIC (6-22): Nick Vanderwalle, a first-year coach, believes the Barons can be competitive. The reason for his optimism? All five starters return, including the county's leading scorer, Lisa Cronauer, and senior Kim Esposito.

SEMINOLE (13-10): The Warhawks return seven players _ including last year's starting sophomore trio of Kelly McGuire, Danielle Smith and Holly Groves, who keep improving with age. Second-year coach Tom Andersaon said shooting and defense will be his team's assets. "I think we may surprise some people," he said. "We may not win every game . . . but people will know they've played after they've played us."

SHORECREST (5-15): Third-year coach Anthony Lawrence said his team has more talent up and down the lineup than it has had in the last couple of years. "I think we have a good chance of finally being good," he said. Although he lost leading scorer Sarah Chacko to graduation, he has a potential star in 6-foot Dallas transfer Nicole Straub, who will likely play point guard. Kelly McKnight returns after an injury-hobbled junior season, and Adia Bradley is a powerful inside presence.

TARPON SPRINGS (18-9): Here is another playoff team that took a hit, losing its two best players. John Royal rejoins the Spongers after a stint at St. Petersburg Junior College. He replaced Eric Robles, who ironically replaced Royal back in 1989. Kara Sullivan showed promise at center as a 6-foot-1 freshman last year. She will be counted on heavily this year.

_ Compiled by Times staff writers Rodney Page, Robbi Pickeral, Bob Putnam and Eric Vician.