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It's conference-play time

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 11, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Pasco-Hernando Community College's Suncoast Conference opener reads like a Hollywood script.

A one-point win. On the road. In overtime, no less.

The Conquistadors (7-11) have three victories in their past four games including Saturday's overtime thriller, an 86-85 win over Manatee.

"It's typical of conference play," PHCC coach Bobby Bowman said. "Most games are probably going to be (decided by) seven points or less.

"You play the whole season to get to conference and, hopefully, you play your best."

Trailing by five points in the extra session, PHCC's Scott Sorenson (Wesley Chapel) made a 3-pointer and Jason Byrd hit a basket to tie the game at 85 before draining a free throw for the game-winner.

John Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward playing in his first game for PHCC, blocked a shot with 2 seconds left to preserve the win.

Jones, a transfer from Lincoln College (Ill.) who was ineligible in the fall, finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

Chris Thompson led PHCC in that game with 31 points and 14 rebounds. Byrd, moved to guard to accommodate Jones in the starting lineup, contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, and Michael Morris added 13 points.

OPENERS: The Saint Leo men's and women's basketball teams began Sunshine State Conference play with Wednesday's doubleheader against Florida Tech.

"It's here, finally," men's coach Mike Madagan said, adding that the seniors are especially eager to begin conference play.

"There's always an added incentive when you play people in your league," Madagan said.

The men's team entered Wednesday's game on a positive note -- a 90-88 comeback win at Nova Southeastern Jan. 2 that evened the Lions' record at 6-6.

Trailing by eight points (68-60 in the fourth quarter), Saint Leo rallied and took an 84-82 lead on Demaija Stewart's layup.

"It was important for us in the sense that we had been off (Saint Leo did not play between Dec. 21-Jan. 2)," Madagan said. "We were able to fight back and take control."

Still, Madagan feels Saint Leo's record should be better and said it would if the team played more consistently.

"When I look strictly at the numbers, what the record is, I'm disappointed," the coach said.

Madagan has spent the past few practices drilling his team on defensive schemes and promises changes in the Lions' man-to-man and zone coverages.

Offensively, Madagan is content with the way John Stolard has taken charge and with the team's 3-point shooting.

Stolard leads the Lions in scoring (with a 14.2 average) and rebounding (6.6). Daniel Fallon is second in rebounding with a 5.5 average.

Frank Craig, who starred at Pasco High and PHCC and is second in scoring (13.2), makes 45 percent of his 3-pointers and is followed by Javier Veloso (40 percent), Orange (33 percent) and Matt Pruitt (30 percent).

Saint Leo's women's team (5-7) has won its past three games.

"It's definitely a plus going into conference play," coach Dave Wilson said.

Ebony Winn leads the Lions in scoring (11.8) and rebounding (10.8). September Harrison and Angela Sclafani are tied for second in scoring with 9.6 averages.

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