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JOHN C. COTEY'S TOP 10

Ranking the best of the bay area from the past week.

1. Brandon wrestling

The streak is over. Now let the rest of the world try to break it.

2. Aaron Fullenwider

Brandon's 275-pounder pulled his team out of a deficit with a huge pin, and the Eagles went on to escape what was supposed to be a scary semifinal against Manatee. Fullenwider shocked the crowd with a reversal and pin of Richie Cunningham. Arthur Fonzarelli, watching nearby, did not think that was very cool at all.

3. Jose Montelongo

The Pasco senior, a man amongst boys in his time as a Pirate and one of the most exciting and strong-legged soccer players you've ever seen, became the county's all-time leading scorer over the winter break and heads up a team looking for a nice playoff run. And speaking of soccer ...

4. The soccer postseason

Districts start next week. Teams you might want to keep an eye on are the Land O'Lakes boys, the Tampa Prep boys (and scoring ace Ryan Griffin) and the Palm Harbor U. girls. I'll go out on a limb and predict at least two state titles for the Tampa Bay area right now. So there.

5. Berkeley Prepboys basketball

Everyone told us these guys tore it up during the summer and were the team to beat. We were a little pessimistic - I mean, come on, it's summer! - but no longer. After beating Lakewood at the Kingdom of the Sun tournament and finishing second thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, I'm now convinced these guys will be the only Buccaneers who make a big playoff run this winter.

6. Matt Patchan

Yes! A decision! After going back and forth and wrestling with a difficult decision, Armwood's Patchan showed up at his official college announcement and chose ... water over sweetened iced tea. Oh, yeah, he also told everyone that he'd be going to college at Florida, in case you were wondering.

7. Sasha Chaplin

The name is probably familiar. The performances by the St. Petersburg Catholic senior certainly are. The best big-game basketball player around did it again this week, with 28 points and 17 rebounds in a win against No. 1 Boca Ciega.

8. Indecision 2008

The mind swirls and stomachs churn for dozens of kids across the Tampa Bay area. Florida or Miami. Ohio State or USC. FSU or Wake Forest. Sheboygan School of Beauty or Waukesha Tech. Okay, so that last one was my senior year in high school, but you get the point. It's a tough time of the year, and a fun one, for making a college pick.

9. Sheldon Cooley

The Plant senior showed what all those holiday hoops tournaments are about. Testing himself against some of the best players in the country, Cooley passed with all A's as he used the Tampa Hoops Classic as his coming-out party.

10. The new year

Conference championships. District playoffs. State championships. And then in one month, we start it all over again with baseball, softball and track. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Times prep columnist John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or johncotey@gmail.com.

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