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Looks can be deceiving

Gaither has no dominant big man and doesn't appear to do any one thing really well. Yet the team has a 15-4 start.

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2002


NORTHDALE -- Dwayne Olinger has known it all along.

Now everyone else is starting to catch on. Gaither always fields a competitive basketball team, but this group is special. And most interesting, according to Olinger, is how his group can be deceiving.

"We may not seem like much at first," the Cowboys' coach saidafter the Cowboys beat state-ranked Class 2A power Tampa Prep on Jan. 11. "But these guys are tough and they are a hard-fighting team."

And that hard-fighting attitude has served the Cowboys well. Gaither has no real dominant big man and doesn't appear to do any one thing really well. Yet Gaither is off to a 15-4 start, hasn't lost in district play and has cracked the state's Class 6A poll (coming in at No. 10 this week.)

And while it may appear the Cowboys are accomplishing things via smoke and mirrors, their lineup bears a closer look. Guard Antonio Russell and newcomer Brandon Harrison at forward have been the catalysts. The duo is the top scoring tandem of teammates in the county, pouring in 41 points per game.

Add that in with a team that plays aggressive defense and is good at the free-throw line (10 of 12 from the line against Bloomingdale last week) and the Cowboys look to be in good shape with the district playoffs looming.

The Cowboys will be especially motivated against Chamberlain in the first matchup of the Times North of Tampa basketball festival. Gaither has lost twice already this year to area rival Chamberlain.

"I can't say enough about these kids," said Olinger. "They are not all that big -- they're just tough."

GAITHER COWBOYS

Record: 16-4

Coach: Dwayne Olinger

Players To Watch: Antonio Russell 21 points per game average; Brandon Harrison 20 ppg.

Roster

3 Alex Grace, Jr., F

4 Jonathan Kushner, Jr.,F

5 Manny Saldana, Jr.,F

10Antonio Russell, So.,G

11 Kareem Garibaldi, Sr.F

21Jon Huebner, Jr.,C

22 Danny Higgins, Jr., G

23Josh Sims, Jr., G

32 Ryan Glass, Jr.,F

33 Brandon Harrison, Jr.,F

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