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With teamwork, they enjoy success

The Wharton boys basketball team is off to a 15-6 start, with a handful of players averaging in double figures.

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


NEW TAMPA -- Wharton may still be considered one of the newer programs around basketball circles in Hillsborough County, but the Wildcats are no stranger to success. The 5-year old Wildcats have become a fixture at some of the best holiday tournaments and can usually be found making noise during the postseason as well.

But even the Wildcats may be surprised with the style of success they are enjoying this season. Off to a 15-6 start, Wharton is getting the job done via committee, unlike some Wildcat teams of the past few seasons, which featured dominant players.

"Right now we are on the verge of having four or five guys averaging in double figures," said Tommy Tonelli. "And we feel pretty good about the way we have been playing. We have some good wins on our record this year."

Tonelli's core group of forwards, Max Hardy and Mike Burkett, and guard Maurice Johnson have been key for the Wildcats, who have dropped just one district game this year, against Leto last month. Hardy, Burkett and Johnson have combined to average 29 points and 18 rebounds per game.

And they will continue to be relied upon Saturday against Sickles. The Wildcats will play without 6-foot-5 forward Jeff James, who was suspended from school for disciplinary reasons.

Tonelli says his group has and will continue to respond well to the loss of James.

"This is a good group of kids," he said. "Maurice Johnson is a leader of this group and he's one of those kids that will do whatever it takes to win. Right now, he's the glue for this team."

WHARTON WILDCATS

  • Coach: Tommy Tonelli
  • Record: 15-6 (not counting game on Jan. 23)
  • Players To Watch: Maurice Johnson, 10 ppg, 5 rebounds per game, 5 assists per game; Mike Burkett 10 ppg, 7 rpg; Max Hardy 9 ppg, 6 rpg.

Roster:

1 Marlon Maxwell Jr., G

2 Glenroy Braithwaite Jr., G

3 Jelani Hunte Sr., G

4 Maurice Johnson Sr., G

5 Malcolm Youmans Jr., G

10 Neil Allman Sr., G

11 Josh Simpson Fr., G

12 Paul Poleon Jr., F

21 Ben Golombisky Sr., G

23 Branan Anderson Jr., F

30 Curtis Taylor Sr., G

31 Mike Burkett Sr., F

32 Max Hardy Sr., F

34 Jeff James Sr., F

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