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MORNING MEANDERINGS: Welcome back, Tianah Alvarado.

Some random thoughts and observations about the goings on in the prep world by Times' prep's columnist John C. Cotey. That's me. Oh, and if you want to get your name in here, then just shoot me at email at, or better yet, follow me on Twitter RIGHT HERE. Don't let my creepy avatar scare; let's be friends!

And awaaaaaaayyyyyyyy we go:

Tianah Alvarado, the Class 4A Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2009-2010 when she led Lakewood to a state title, missed almost all of her junior season with a knee injury.

But now that's she back and healthy, you can throw her name in the mix when it comes to any discussion of who the best player in Tampa Bay is.

Alvarado, a Seton Hall signee, made three 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 to lead Lakewood, the No. 1 girls basketball team in Tampa Bay, past Northeast Wednesday night.

Alvarado, who can play any position, is primed to have her best season. With Kasey Drayton (12 points) manning the opposite side, the addition of highly-touted sophomore point guard Deja Swinton should make the wings a bountiful place for Lakewood this season.

* Academy at the Lakes, a Class 2A final four team last year, began its quest to return to Lakeland with a 63-43 win over Ridgewood.

Coach Karim Nohra, who finally made the state semifinals after falling a game short seven times, may have the squad to get him back there. The Wildcats lost some of its stars from a year ago, but with a whole year to build a team around Tatiana Manuel, watch out in February.

Manuel, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Brooks Debartolo, where she averaged 11 points and 7 blocks a game, scored 16 in her Wildcat debut. And Andrea Mauger, who I believe is beginning her 11th season of high school basketball (can I get a witness?), scored 12.

Some other notable performances from Wednesday night:

* Admiral Farragut's defense held Bradenton St. Stephens to zero points in the third quarter in a 53-8 win. Bayli Roeder scored 12 to lead the Blue Jackets.

* Eight different players went to the free throw line for Bloomingdale, as the Bulls made 24 of 41 attempts, or 58.5 percent. That's not great, unless you compare it to some of the other free throw shooting around Tampa Bay in this early season. Wow. It's pretty bad. But the Bulls did alright, and had three score in double figures in a 64-27 win over Lennard: Katie Montero (15) and Jacqueline Mayo and Serena Grant (11 each). Mayo made 7 of 9 free throws, too, so bravo.

* Aliyah Gregory scored 26 points to lead Strawberry Crest to a 67-19 win. That's impressive, but check out what the 5-foot-11 junior did the night before: 43 points, nine rebounds, five assists. Yowza!

Another amazing note: Gregory has 69 points, and has only shot eight free throws.

* Plant bounced back from a season-opening loss to beat Gaither behind 16 from Madelyn Carey.

* Speaking of the Cowboys, Samyah Maddox had 19 and Kashari James had 11 as the tandem combined for 30 of Gaither's 34 points.

* Angel Brown (18) and Michael LaShon Everhart (16) led St. Petersburg to a 53-30 win over Osceola. A reader in the comments from Wednesday says that Everhart had four 3-pointers.

And while I have your attention, let me point out that I can only write about what I know. A commentor on the previous Meanderings wrote accused me of not knowing anything about basketball because I didn't mention Steinbrenner, but there was no boxscore called in that night. Now, a day later by reading MaxPreps I know that sophomore Rachel Briere shot 8 of 9 from the field and had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Warriors over Blake. See how easy that is?


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