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Assistant takes over for Lions

As former Saint Leo women's soccer coach Tony Paris prepared a professional men's team in the Faroe Islands for the upcoming season in February, assistant Ged O'Connor handled administrative duties during a search for Paris' successor.

Unsure of his future, O'Connor, 28, kept his job as an Irish dancer at Busch Gardens. But now that the selection process is complete, O'Connor's dancing days - at least professionally - are over.

O'Connor, Paris' assistant for the past four seasons, was named coach Feb. 21 by athletic director Fran Reidy.

"Coach P. was a great role model for me," O'Connor said. "I've got to keep winning, and that's the bottom line."

The Lions, 38-57-6 since Paris started the program in 2000, are coming off three straight winning seasons.

"My river dancing's finished," O'Connor said, alluding to three daily shows six days a week and four on Sundays. "Now I can dedicate my time to the team. It'll be nice to be running the show."

O'Connor, a former goalkeeper at Webber (1995-99), also was a women's assistant at Southern Miss (1999-2000).

WEEKLY LION: Swimmer Julie Carusone was named Saint Leo's athlete of the week for Feb. 20-26.

Carusone had three wins and set three meet records in the Sunshine State Invitational Saturday and Sunday against Florida Southern, Tampa and Rollins in Orlando.

The freshman won the 400-yard individual medley in 4 minutes, 29.24 seconds, 100 breaststroke in 1:05.25 and 200 breaststroke in 2:20.79.

CRUZ-ING: Ex-Pasco High and Pasco-Hernando Community College standout Lee Cruz on Monday was named the Sunshine State Conference baseball player of the week.

The Tampa senior outfielder earned that honor for the second time this season and fourth in his career. Cruz led the Spartans to a 3-0 week by batting .500 with a home run and six RBIs.

FIRST-ROUND OUSTER: The PHCC men's basketball team bowed out of the Suncoast Conference tournament in the first round 61-53 to Polk on Monday.

The Conquistadors' Derell Henderson scored a game-high 20 points, and teammate Stanley Pringle had 11.

PHCC (15-16) placed third in the conference at 4-8. Including the tournament game, PHCC lost its last five.