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Underclassmen rule the court for Fivay girls basketball

The Falcons are a postseason threat and there’s not a senior to be found on the roster.
Fivay girls basketball players, from left: Marielis Creque, Jania Jones and Savannah Shaffer. [RODNEY PAGE   |  Times]
Fivay girls basketball players, from left: Marielis Creque, Jania Jones and Savannah Shaffer. [RODNEY PAGE | Times]

HUDSON — There will be no senior night when Fivay High plays its last home regular-season girls basketball game on Jan. 29 against Hudson. It’s not that the Falcons don’t want to fork out the money for balloons and a cake. It’s because they don’t have any seniors.

In fact, there are no freshmen on the varsity roster either. Four sophomores and four juniors currently make up the 12-4 team. There is only one player who has a driver’s license, which makes scheduling late practices a bit of a logistical problem for third-year head coach Scott Love.

While this is a young team, it has already equaled last year’s win total. The Falcons have a win over district rival River Ridge. They have a good chance of getting to the region tournament for the second time in three years.

“They don’t care who gets the points,” Love said. “They care about us winning. If you would’ve told me I’d be coaching a girls basketball team with zero drama and they all get along and two of them are sisters (Alani and Alexah Giron), I would’ve said you were crazy.”

Related: High school girls basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

Love took over a program that went 3-22 the year before. Ices Utegg, who is now a senior star at River Ridge, was a freshman on that team. In the 2017-18 season, the Falcons went 25-4 and advanced to the Class 6A Region final. There were six seniors on that team, including transfer India Lewis and her 22 points per game.

Last season was a rebuild. Love decided his most talented players were freshmen and sophomores, so he decided to go young.

“I’m thinking, ‘What are we going to do?’” Love said. “I don’t believe in cutting kids in their senior year. If I’m going to cut a kid it will be in the junior year. Last year the juniors just weren’t better than our freshmen or sophomores. So we had four freshmen and four sophomores with three seniors.”

Despite being young, there is no shortage of talented players on the roster.

Junior Marielis Creque is a double-double machine, with 12.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore Jania Jones, who like Creque is a 6-foot forward, gets about 10 points per game and snags 11.3 rebounds.

And when those two aren’t causing trouble under the basket, junior Savannah Shaffer is usually hitting shots from the outside. She has drained 30 3-pointers and scores 9.3 points per game. Sophomore Kearston Brewer is also a shooting threat with 7.5 points per game.

All eight players have scored on a team that averages 53 points per game.

Related: Brooks DeBartolo’s motto: ‘If you can’t play defense, then you can’t play’

“We’re all very talented and we’ve been with each other for over a year now,” Creque said. “We have that bond. Because of that we work really well together.”

Creque said the players are together both on and off the court. They played together in a summer league against other area high schools and won most of the games. That’s what gave them the confidence to believe they could improve on last year’s 12-12 season.

“We only had five players,” Jones said. “No subs. But we were still beating people. That’s when we knew that we could be a good team.”

The Falcons had their nine-game win streak snapped last week against Land O’Lakes. They beat the Gators earlier in the season and will likely face them again in the district tournament. They played three straight games this week, which is by design.

“You’re going to have to play three straight games at the district tournament so I like to have a week where we play three straight,” Love said.

While Fivay likely won’t match the 25 wins of two years ago, it does have a chance to have one of its better seasons. And no matter what happens, the group will remain together next season. Some of them may even have their driver’s licenses by then.

“If we win then that’s all that matters,” Jones said. “Nobody is upset if they don’t get points. We all communicate and share the ball. We have very good chemistry.”

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