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March 10, 2002
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Lesson learned
Following older brother Todd's advice in the minors paid off for determined and talented Rays catcher Toby Hall.

Flaherty's pep, pop may open few doors
TAMPA -- John Flaherty is wasting no time showing people he is healthy and able to play regularly behind the plate.

If all is rosy, McHale can be a good friend
ST. PETERSBURG -- Seemingly embarrassed by the flowing praise from "my friend, my colleague and my mentor" Vince Naimoli, John McHale insisted -- on his way out the door last week -- he really didn't do much during his 10 months with the Rays.

Romano: Don't let the Rays' bright future blind you
ST. PETERSBURG -- His team is on the field in front of him, but Chuck LaMar is staring at the fan standing beside him.

Johnson crowds QB field
Rob Johnson, a free agent from Buffalo and a former starter, signs to compete for Bucs job.

Tough mountain to climb
Coach John Tortorella says recognizing situations is what the Lightning often lacks late.

[Times photo: Jamie Francis]
Lakewood's Kory Crumbley celebrates winning the state title.

Ready to talk March Madness? Times sports writer Brian Landman will take your questions and share his views on the NCAA basketball tournaments on Tuesday, March 12, at 2 p.m. For more information or to ask a question right now, click here.

State playoffs
Spartans' quest complete
LAKELAND -- It took 25 years, and some painful losses in the state finals along the way, but coach Dan Wright is finally bringing a championship trophy back to "The Wood".

Dorsey's key plays turn tide
LAKELAND -- It was a frantic few moments that lifted Lakewood from a dogfight to a title, and Kevin Dorsey calmly steered the Spartans right through.

Hubert Mizell
Author likes the book, pans Knight movie
John Feinstein wrote the book, made a quick fortune, eventually cashed a nice check for film rights, but the author is angry at what ESPN moviemakers did with A Season on the Brink, airing tonight with Brian Dennehy in the role of controversial, combustible basketball coach Bob Knight.

John Romano
Don't let the Rays' bright future blind you
ST. PETERSBURG -- His team is on the field in front of him, but Chuck LaMar is staring at the fan standing beside him.

Puppet master
NASCAR, with a braintrust led by president Mike Helton, has a flexible rulebook that this season has left competitors scratching their heads and searching for consistency in officiating.

B. Labonte: Engines will outlast rule
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Former Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte has confidence in the motors in his No. 18 Pontiac, but does not expect NASCAR's one-engine rule to last.

Times is among APSE's 10 best
For the second time in three years, the Times' daily sports coverage has been rated one of the 10 best among the biggest newspapers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Highs and lows

Reader feedback
Tampa Bay lacks ideals of Midwest
It's great to see Tony Dungy treated so well in Indianapolis. Many transplanted Midwesterners live in Florida, yet the down-hominess and neighborliness are never translated to anything coherent. After living in Florida 20 years, and bemoaning many of the things I missed about the Midwest, Darrell Fry's article put a finger on my feelings about the small-town atmosphere that permeates even the big cities in the Midwest.

College basketball
Alabama edges South Carolina for all-West final
ATLANTA -- It was a little scary down the stretch but the best team in the Southeastern Conference during the regular season has an opportunity to prove it's the best team in the SEC Tournament.

Bearcats use new defense to win title
Too tired to play man-to-man against No. 13 Marquette, Cincinnati goes zone to keep alive a shot at NCAA No.1 seed.

Recker's dramatics lift Iowa once again
INDIANAPOLIS -- Luke Recker made a 15-foot shot on the run from the right corner as time expired Saturday -- his second straight winner -- to lift Iowa 62-60 over Indiana, his former team.

Big name unlikely for FSU
Potential replacements for Steve Robinson include ex-Miami coach and mid-major coaches.

'Anything can happen' as Wolfpack stuns Terps
N.C. State takes out the top seed and reaches the final, where it plays Duke.

Knight's Red Raiders stall against Jayhawks
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bob Knight didn't offer a complicated explanation for his worst defeat in four years.

Top-seeded Tampa loses region semi
TAMPA -- Two concerns for Tampa entering its South Region matchup with West Georgia were an unfamiliar opponent and its own first-round bye.

Spring Training
Pettitte's elbow has a slight strain; may miss next start
TAMPA -- An MRI exam) on left-hander Andy Pettitte's elbow showed a slight strain that will keep him from playing catch for at least two days and makes him questionable for his next scheduled start.

Rangers' stock keeps going up
ST. PETERSBURG -- Despite losing 89 games with the eighth-highest payroll in the majors last season, Rangers owner Tom Hicks didn't shy from spending during the offseason.

Daily fishing report
Tough fishing conditions on hard-bottom areas and ledges require a change in tactics, and that is when we concentrate on freshwater springs and shipwrecks located in 100 to 150 feet of water. The Gulf of Mexico is loaded with shipwrecks and numerous springs. Local fishing and diving charts available in most tackle stores are good sources of GPS and Loran numbers for springs and shipwrecks. One-stop shopping is how we refer to springs and wrecks because of all the different fish that wrecks attract.

Straka has had no good returns
What kind of a dark cloud is Martin Straka under?

Nash Higgins meet memorable for Wharton
TAMPA -- Saturday's Nash Higgins Relays will be remembered for a variety of accomplishments.

Bogie jumper wins three events
TAMPA -- Saturday's Nash Higgins Relays will be remembered for a variety of accomplishments.

Big seventh inning keeps Pirates perfect
LECANTO -- Crystal River wants the No. 1 ranking. Lecanto just wants some respect.

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