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Jesuit’s 2012-13 state championship basketball team still one for the ages

Twelve of that team’s 13 players returned to campus for a reunion on Monday evening.
Jesuit fans, dubbed the "Blue Tide," hug Joey Galvis and Isaiah Omoregie after the Tigers defeated Plantation American Heritage 79-58 in the Class 5A state championship game on March 2, 2013, at the Lakeland Center. Galvis was named 5A state tournament MVP.
Jesuit fans, dubbed the "Blue Tide," hug Joey Galvis and Isaiah Omoregie after the Tigers defeated Plantation American Heritage 79-58 in the Class 5A state championship game on March 2, 2013, at the Lakeland Center. Galvis was named 5A state tournament MVP. [ Times (2013) ]
Published Dec. 29, 2022

TAMPA — Evolution has served these state champs quite well.

The 2012-13 Jesuit High basketball team, arguably the greatest boys squad this area has produced, now comprises accountants and attorneys, project managers and even one pro athlete. One is married, two others are engaged.

But a decade ago, they were a disarming group with characteristics indigenous to their age bracket: strapping, unkempt, unflappable.

And collectively, a juggernaut.

“They were just so good,” said long-time Robinson High coach Steve Smith, whose team lost twice to that club. “I mean, they had everything you would want in a championship team. Each game we played them, we tried to stop somebody, but the other guy would rise to the challenge.”

Monday night, 12 of that team’s 13 players — as well as the managers and coaching staff — reconvened on campus to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a nearly unblemished season. Those Tigers, who started five seniors, finished 31-1 to give coach Neal Goldman (still the Tigers coach) his first state crown in his 26th season.

Members of Jesuit High's 2012-13 Class 5A state championship basketball team gathered at the Tigers' gym Monday night for a 10-year reunion.
Members of Jesuit High's 2012-13 Class 5A state championship basketball team gathered at the Tigers' gym Monday night for a 10-year reunion. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]

“Our senior class wanted to do that for Coach Goldman,” said Travis Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frontcourt force who signed a football scholarship with Cincinnati. “That was the main thing, and we held that true.”

Their formula was derived straight from the “Hoosiers” script: The Tigers were experienced, balanced, proficient and selfless. Their soundtrack was similarly old-school: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” blared from the P.A. system at every home game, with the raucous student section — the Blue Tide — singing along in unison.

Four players had double-figure scoring averages, but none who averaged more than 16 points. As a team, the Tigers shot 44% (210-of-479) from 3-point range. Their lone defeat — by three points — came against a California private school in a Maryland tournament.

Thirty of their victories came by double digits. None of those romps was more gratifying than a 97-72 embarrassment of Lake Wales in the region final. The year before, in the same playoff round, the Highlanders had ended Jesuit’s season with a 41-point annihilation.

“That was probably the game where I’d seen us the most dialed in, because we wanted revenge,” said 6-4 guard Devin Harris, who still plays professionally overseas. “That’s probably the most serious I’ve ever seen us.”

The ensuing title game was nearly a formality. After a gritty five-point win against Jacksonville Bishop Kenny in the semifinals, the Tigers — buoyed by roughly 500 members of the Blue Tide — scored 42 of the game’s final 62 points in a 79-58 romp of Plantation American Heritage at the Lakeland Center.

“If you think about the stands being empty, it wouldn’t have been the same experience,” said shooting guard Joey Galvis, who was named tournament MVP after totaling 32 points and eight steals in the two contests. “And still, so many of those guys that were in the front row ... are still our best friends.”

With the triumph, the Tigers had their first state crown since 1984, and a distinct niche in local lore.

Not to mention a season worth celebrating every decade or so.

2012-13 Jesuit basketball team

Jesuit head coach Neal Goldman exchanges words with an official during the Class 5A state championship game.
Jesuit head coach Neal Goldman exchanges words with an official during the Class 5A state championship game. [ Times (2013) ]

Coaches: Neal Goldman, Joe Sansonetti, Paul Sansonetti, Andrew Lusher

PG Stephen Adamchak, Jr.

College: FSU

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Employed by Merrill Lynch

PG Akin Adejunmobi, Jr.

College: UCF (attended law school at Florida International)

Current residence: Miami

Occupation: Trademark examining attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

G Daniel Darst, So.

College: Rhodes College (Memphis)

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Accountant

SF Brent Fenlon, Jr.

College: USF

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Works in sales

Jesuit guard Jack Fleming passes around Heritage guard Justin Massey during the state final.
Jesuit guard Jack Fleming passes around Heritage guard Justin Massey during the state final. [ Times (2013) ]

SG Jack Fleming, Sr.

College: Colgate/Rollins

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Project manager for a general contractor

SG Joey Galvis, Sr.

College: Rollins

Current residence: New York City

Occupation: Commercial real estate agent

Jesuit's Devin Harris drives past Jacksonville Bishop Kenny's Christian Carlyle during the Tigers' 46-41 victory in the Class 5A state semifinal.
Jesuit's Devin Harris drives past Jacksonville Bishop Kenny's Christian Carlyle during the Tigers' 46-41 victory in the Class 5A state semifinal. [ Times (2013) ]

PG/SF Devin Harris, Sr.

College: East Tennessee State/Jacksonville

Current residence: Most recently in Nicaragua

Occupation: Professional basketball (overseas)

SF Chad Holtz, So.

College: Notre Dame

Current residence: Winter Park

Occupation: Works for telehealth company in Orlando

PF Travis Johnson, Sr.

College: Cincinnati

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Employed at a developmental disability care facility in Largo

Jesuit forward Travis Johnson shoots a layup during the Tigers' victory over Jacksonville Bishop Kenny in the state semifinal.
Jesuit forward Travis Johnson shoots a layup during the Tigers' victory over Jacksonville Bishop Kenny in the state semifinal. [ Times (2013) ]

SG Kyle Sahlsten, Jr.

College: Florida

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Hotel investment sales for commercial real estate firm

PG J.J. Weir, Sr.

College: Rhodes College (Memphis)

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Senior project accountant for Tampa-based commercial real estate developer

SF Parker Yount, Sr.

College: North Carolina

Current residence: Tampa

Occupation: Completing medical school at LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans

(Power forward Isaiah Omoregie, a rangy junior and key low-post backup, was the only member of the team not to attend the reunion.)

Noteworthy

Jesuit High alumni, from left, Akin Adejunmobi, J.J. Weir, Joey Galvis and Chad Holtz hang out in their older locker room prior to the 10-year reunion of the Tigers' 2012-13 Class 5A state title team.
Jesuit High alumni, from left, Akin Adejunmobi, J.J. Weir, Joey Galvis and Chad Holtz hang out in their older locker room prior to the 10-year reunion of the Tigers' 2012-13 Class 5A state title team. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]

• Adamchak probably has remained closest to the program of anyone; he serves as a Tigers junior varsity assistant.

• One of Jesuit’s top two-sport athletes of his generation, Johnson signed a football scholarship with Cincinnati, but returned home shortly thereafter for family reasons.

• Harris has played professionally in Finland, Germany, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Colombia.

• The Tigers won the state title on Fenlon’s 17th birthday (March 2). He also is the only team member currently married.

• Holtz is the son of former USF football coach Skip Holtz and grandson of College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz (who attended a few Tigers games).

• Darst and Weir (Rhodes College), and Galvis and Fleming (Rollins), also were college teammates. As seniors, Galvis and Fleming helped lead Rollins to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the 2016-17 season.