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Crumbley fulfilling lifelong mission

By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 22, 2002

By the time Earnest Crumbley Jr., was 6, he knew basketball was his sport.

It was a natural choice.

His father Earnest Sr., was a formidable player at Boca Ciega High who went on to play at Arizona Western and Utah State. Crumbley Sr. then returned to this area and now is coaching at St. Petersburg College.

"I grew up playing basketball when my dad was working at rec centers," Earnest Jr. said. "Even though I played some other sports, none of them organized, it was basketball I wanted to play," he said.

Young Crumbley went on to be a standout at Lakewood and was recruited to play for Florida Atlantic University.

"My dad was always there for me when I needed him, but he was pretty much hands off otherwise," Crumbley, 20, said. "Most people might think he would be intense or always drilling me, but he never forced basketball on either me or my brother."

Younger brother Kory is playing for his dad at St. Petersburg College.

For the first two years at FAU, the team won only nine games. Last year the Owls turned it around and won the Atlantic Sun championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

"Coach (Sidney) Green has been a tremendous influence on all of us," Crumbley said.

"He's been through everything himself -- and more -- so he reflects and shares his experiences with us."

Green, a 10-year NBA veteran, took over at FAU three years ago and transformed the Owls into the formidable team of last season.

"The first two years, we took our lumps, but knew if we would get a little bit better every time we played, we'd get there," Crumbley said.

"The biggest difference became our attitude. We were ready to go to the next level."

Crumbley is largely responsible for the team's success. He leads the team in scoring with 17 points per game and is 17th in the nation in 3-point shooting.

"I've worked really hard on my long-range shooting," Crumbley said.

"I knew that because I'm not very tall at 5-9, I needed a weapon and something to be able to play off the drive."

Crumbley's work ethic paid off, especially this season when FAU beat the University of Miami for the first time with a 74-73 overtime win. Crumbley tied a school record with eight 3-pointers and contributed a game-high 25 points.

"The first two years, Miami beat us by at least 20 points, so we knew we had something to prove," Crumbley said. "We're juniors now and we knew we needed to be in the game at the end if we wanted to win.

"I was in the gym the morning of the game and really felt like I was getting a good rhythm. When we got in the game, I felt good and when that happens, you don't want to hesitate with your shot."

Crumbley's role as point guard requires a good attitude, he said, and one that reflects both the coach's and the team's.

"You need to lead by example and set the tone for the team," Crumbley said. 'You also have to be able to give as well as take criticism.

"The team is first and the team's goal is the most important, not any individual's."

Last year's inaugural trip to the NCAA tournament was ended by Alabama in the opening round of the South Regional. FAU stayed even with the Crimson Tide to a 64-all score after the first 33 minutes, but was eliminated 86-78.

Crumbley says the team's primary goal includes proving that last year's NCAA trip was not a fluke. This year, Crumbley said, the team plans to play deeper into the draw.

MORE BASKETBALL: Senior guard Lisa Cronauer (St. Petersburg Catholic) connected for 18 points to lead Saint Leo to its fourth consecutive win with a 74-65 victory over St. Francis University.

Cronauer's 10.5 point average is third on the team.

Colin Shaw (Seminole/UNC-Asheville) has the second highest shooting average (10.9 points) and free throw percentage (75.9) for Saint Leo. The forward-guard leads the team in rebounds with 54.

Josh Postorino (Clearwater/Dayton) has begun his third year on his alma mater's staff and the second as a full-time assistant coach.

Dayton's former point guard, Postorino provides instruction to the players, is involved in scouting opponents and assists in recruiting.

SWIMMING: In the Notre Dame Invitational, freshman Lauren Bullock (Dunedin) was first in the 500-yard freestyle, second in the 200 free and 13th in the 100 free for the University of Louisville.

Robert Margalis (Clearwater) swam an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:51.09 in the 400 individual medley to help Georgia win its first championship in the Georgia Fall Invitational since 1999.

Margalis was first in the 1,650 freestyle (15:25.04) and second in the 200-yard butterfly (1:46.39). The fly time was also an NCAA provisional qualifying time.

Wingate University junior Stephanie Reinshuttle (Palm Harbor University) holds school records in the 200 and 400 IM and the 500, 1000 and 1,650 freestyle events.

Reinshuttle was the first Wingate swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Division II Championships last season.

Mandy Booth (Northeast) is a senior at Wingate specializing in breaststroke events.

Heather Skaggs (Northeast) was a member of South Carolina's 200-yard freestyle relay team that finished first in the Auburn Invitational and set a school record with a time of 1:30.76.

The time qualified the team for the NCAA championships.

GYMNASTICS: Ashley Shible (East Lake) won the all-around in the University of Denver intrasquad meet.

The junior earned a 9.9 score on the uneven bars and a 9.85 on the balance beam. Shible achieved All-American status as a freshman and last year was 19th all-around at the NCAA Championships.

Intercollegiate competition kicks off next month.

VOLLEYBALL: Christine Gladysz (Berkeley Prep) of Palm Harbor earned Athlete of the Week honors at Washington and Lee for her play in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship.

Freshman setter Gladysz averaged 39.7 assists, 10 digs and 2.7 blocks in three tournament matches and was named the tournament MVP. The Lady Generals captured a second consecutive ODAC title.

Through the season, Gladysz's 406 digs was just 24 shy of a school record.

Gladysz's brother Brian (Berkeley Prep) is a senior first baseman for the Generals and was elected tri-captain for the 2003 season.

FOOTBALL: These area players are on teams involved in bowl games over the holidays:

Jeff Malley (Shorecrest) and Jon Peattie (Countryside), Miami; Darren McCray (Lakewood), Pitt; Clint Mitchell (Countryside), Florida; Atif Austin (Tarpon Springs), Iowa State; D'Qwell Jackson (Seminole); Joe Holt (Clearwater) Virginia; Bobby Williamson (East Lake), Clemson; Mike Ross (St. Petersburg Catholic), Southern California; Jay Davis (Clearwater Central Catholic) and Jon Holt (Clearwater), NC State; Marcello Church (Lakewood), Chris Davis (St. Petersburg Catholic), Matt Meinrod (East Lake) and Patrick Newton (Shorecrest), Florida State; Casey Loesch (St. Petersburg/South Florida), Georgia Tech.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namgamma@gte.net, or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, Fla. 33756. Please include your phone number.

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