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St. Petersburg gets national exposure in men's basketball

St. Petersburg entered the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., as the new kid on the court.

The Titans made their first appearance in the recent men's basketball tourney. Other teams _ such as St. Petersburg's first-round opponent, Wabash Valley (Ill.), and Schoolcraft College (Mich.) and Coffeyville (Kan.) _ seem to appear annually.

The Titans lost 92-74 to Wabash Valley but didn't embarrass themselves.

St. Petersburg College defeated Sheridan College (Wyo.) 93-91 in overtime and advanced to a loser's bracket semifinal.

Not bad for the Titans, who were unranked in the state's preseason Top 10 and are absent from the national Top 25.

"I think we showed that we belong here," SPC coach Earnest Crumbley said of the national tournament. "We can compete with any team here.

"I'm not sure people expected much out of us because we've never been here," he said, "but we've represented ourselves very well."

Next year's Titans will be hard-pressed to repeat their feats of this year, in which they set a season record for wins (29 going into Friday's game).

Sophomore center Nick Berry was named to the All-Suncoast Conference and All-state teams. Eric Dobson was all-conference, and Terrance Taylor, Carl Jenkins and Orien Hatcher were selected for the all-freshman team.

David Pierce, Brian Morrow and Cavin Cummings also were key contributors.

"This is a team that came together at the beginning of the season," Crumbley said. "The chemistry was there from the start. It's been a special season."

KNOOP RETIRES: St. Petersburg College volleyball coach Maggie Knoop called it quits after five years.

Knoop was the program's first head coach. She led the Titans to state tournament appearances the past three seasons.

"It's time," Knoop said. "It has been a great experience getting this program up and running. But I'm ready to turn it over to someone else."

SPC athletic director Ed Long will begin a search for Knoop's replacement after he returns from the men's basketball tournament.

Knoop will remain on the St. Petersburg staff as a teacher. She has taught at the school full time since 1989.

Prior to starting the Titans' program, Knoop coached volleyball at Shorecrest.

ECKERD BASEBALL: The Tritons' season kicked into high gear this weekend.

They played a doubleheader Saturday against Barry and will meet Florida Southern today for two games.

Eckerd College, 20-14 against non-conference opponents, has 19 games remaining against Sunshine State Conference foes.

The Tritons may struggle in the SSC. They are hitting .287, which ranks seventh in the eight-team conference. Their earned run average is 4.35, fourth in the league.

Matt Regan is the Tritons' leading hitter with a .370 average that includes 10 doubles and 19 runs batted in. Stephen Williams is hitting .364 and has 10 doubles and 28 RBIs.

In the past week, senior third baseman Justin Loop batted .478, including a double, 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored.

Jason Wishin has a 0.66 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 4 walks in 13 innings.

SINGH HONORED: Eckerd senior Shika Singh was named the Sunshine State Conference men's tennis player of the week.

Singh won all of his singles and doubles matches in victories over North Greenville, Indianapolis and Cleveland State.