By ROD GIPSON
History repeats itself, to Chiefs' dismay
NORTH TAMPA -- After winning a district championship this season, Chamberlain's boy's basketball team saw its season come to an unpleasant end Thursday night at the hands of Durant. Squaring off in the Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinals, the Chiefs and Cougars renewed their rivalry, which began a few weeks ago when the two played in the Western Conference tournament.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the results were the same -- exactly.
Both games saw Durant pound the offensive boards, play a relentless-style offense, build a huge lead and go on to a 16-point victory. Thursday night, Durant began the game with a 10-0 run, built a lead that stretched as high as 31 points and cruised to a 66-50 victory.
"They (Chamberlain) play a strong pressing defense," said Durant coach Gary Jordan. "But tonight they missed a lot of shots and they couldn't get anything going."
Chamberlain shot a paltry 22 percent from the field while Durant built its lead. Still, the Chiefs didn't give up, making two second-half runs that eventually got the margin to within 12. Otis White led the Chiefs with 13 points, followed by Devon Polite's 11 points, Willie Patrick's nine and Greg Lee's eight. Chamberlain, this season's Class 5A, District 8 champion, finished the season 20-10.
Gaither also was beaten in the opening round of regional play Thursday, losing 57-49 at home to Palm Beach Lakes. The Cowboys, the four-time defending Class 6A, District 5 champions, battled from behind throughout the game before Palm Beach Lakes was able to cement the win. The Cowboys, who end their year at 21-7, were led by Kareem Garibaldi's 15 points.
BASEBALL: Gaither played its second straight extra-inning contest Thursday, defeating neighborhood rival Sickles 6-5 in eight innings. Two days before, the Cowboys needed 10 innings to beat Bloomingdale 2-0.
Gaither senior second baseman Justin Brown tied the game with a two-run double in the sixth inning and won the game with a run-scoring single to left field. But the Cowboys (3-2) had other standout performances in digging out of their 5-2 deficit. Ty Taborelli and Jason Baroff both hit home runs for the Cowboys and freshman pitcher Caleb Graham (1-1) picked up his first prep victory.
Sickles, meanwhile, was led by senior Ernie Diez, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles, 2 RBI, a walk and a run scored. The Gryphons are 1-1.
WRESTLING: Five North Tampa athletes are celebrating regional championships. Chamberlain's Brian Banjany (103 pounds) and Robert Genever (145 pounds) and Gaither's Seth Reber (275 pounds) won regional crowns at the Class 3A regional finals Feb. 16. Other regional champs at the Class 2A level included Sickles' Stan Liberatore (112), Jegan Gabbidon (130) and Daniel Penebade (140).
SCHOLARSHIPS: One current and one former Leto football player have announced their college plans. Leto offensive/defensive lineman Gilbert Perez will attend the Air Force Academy. Perez, a 6-foot-3, 270-pounder, led the Falcons with 74 tackles last season from his defensive tackle position. Also, 2000 Leto graduate Kewon Foster has signed with Tennessee Tech. A 6-foot-1, 250-pound defensive end, Foster played the past two seasons at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss.
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