© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2003
TAMPA -- It was no secret that King was going to feed senior Marquise McCullough the ball as much as possible in a championship game. What Chamberlain hadn't counted on was the other Lions rising to his level.
King, seeded third, was nearly automatic on 3-point shooting to beat top-seed Chamberlain 66-61 Saturday night. The Chiefs (22-5) had beaten King (21-8) twice during the regular season, but couldn't defend the Lions' precise passes and outside game.
"I think we caught them off-guard," said King guard Tony Burkhart, who knocked down five 3-pointers to finish with 20 points. "Marquise did score the most points, but everyone else just stepped up."
McCullough finished with a game-high 25 points and was double-teamed most of the night. The Lions were able to break Chamberlain's press and outscored the Chiefs every quarter but the fourth.
Chamberlain went on a six-point run midway through the final quarter to trail by one point, but King did just enough to stay ahead. With a minute to go, Chamberlain's Eldeen Morgan hit a 3-pointer to trail by one again, but Burkhart answered with his own 3, and a steal and layup by Irving Athis sealed the victory.
King will host Durant in the region quarterfinal Thursday at 7:30 p.m. When the two faced each other earlier this season, McCullough scored a season-high 49 points. Chamberlain will travel to Haines City.
-- EMILY NIPPS
TAMPA -- After three consecutive runner-up finishes to Gaither, Sarasota Riverview finally broke the string in Saturday's title game at Gaither.
"I was there for all three losses," Riverview senior Amari Jackson said. "We didn't want to lose four in a row to Gaither."
Jackson poured in a game-high 31 points and pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds, lifting the Rams to a 66-59 victory.
"It looked to me like he had 100," Gaither coach Dwayne Olinger said after watching his team advance to next week's region quarterfinals with an 18-13 record. "(Jackson) had 16 at halftime and that's his average. We didn't do a good job checking him off and we didn't keep him off the offensive boards."
Riverview's leading scorer, Que Quaintance, who finished with nine, made an impact defensively for the top-seeded Rams with seven blocked shots and seven rebounds.
"He's just born that way," Rams coach James Ward said of his shot blocker. "He's done that all season."
The game was a seesaw battle with the teams exchanging leads 10 times until the Rams broke through midway in the third. The Cowboys tasted their last lead at 40-39 after a 3-pointer by Craig Barber and a Brandon Harrison layup.
Riverview (22-7) responded with a 15-3 run.
Despite the disadvantage in rebounding down the stretch, Gaither fought back, closing the gap to 60-58 on a Chris Bonner 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining.
The Rams then went 6-for-6 on the free-thow line in the game's final minute to seal the victory, with guard Dusty Pflunger (12 points) connecting on four of them.
Antonio Russell was the Cowboys leading scorer with 17 points, 12 coming in the first quarter.
-- CONCEPCION LEDEZMA
TAMPA -- Propelled by Zaronn Cann's 24 points and 19 rebounds, Brandon overpowered Armwood for a 58-53 victory and the title.
Cann controlled the first half, scoring two-thirds of his team's 30 points. The Eagles' sophomore center had 10 in the first quarter and equaled that number in the second. It wasn't until Taylor Gangis scored with 2:17 left in the quarter that another Eagle made a basket. Gangis' two and Cann's 10 accounted for all of Brandon's points in the second. The 6-foot-5 Cann also made his presence felt on the glass, pulling down seven second-quarter boards.
"It feels good when you're able to come out and do everything," Cann said. "I was just trying to get to our shooters and open things up.
"(But) that's what we do at Brandon. When someone has the hot hand, you let them go to work."
Even with Cann's dominance, Brandon led by just seven at halftime. The Hawks (17-8) clamped down on Cann in the third, but the rest of the Eagles (24-7) widened the margin. Point guard Gangis added four of his nine points, while Jonathan Banks supplied the excitement with one-handed slam on a backdoor alley-oop, stretching Brandon's lead to 42-29 after three.
When Cann slammed home a basket and got the foul with 6:48 to play, Brandon took a 16-point lead and seemed well on its way to a blowout. But Armwood fought back, using its fullcourt press and taking advantage of the Eagles' mistakes. Ron Mack scored 10 in the final quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, and when Kedrick Range hit both free throws with 1:47 left, the Hawks cut the deficit back to single digits.
Gangis was whistled for a charge on the other end and Range leaned in for a jumper with 31.2 seconds to whittle the margin to five, 56-51. J.J. Turner's two free throws pushed it back to seven and time ran out on the Hawks.
"To play within five points of Brandon, I don't think anyone in the county's done that," Armwood coach Joe Morris said. "They were picked to be the best team in the area, and we were not even picked, so to go up against a possible state (finalist) team and stay to within five, I'm not unhappy."
-- ANTHONY GAGLIANO
TAMPA -- Tampa Catholic coaches knew they would be in for a rough night against Jesuit if they couldn't control the 1-2 punch of guard Alan Schonbrun and forward Joe Donoho.
The Crusaders had good reason to be concerned.
Schonbrun scored 25 points and Donoho added 19 to lead Jesuit to a 70-57 win, clinching the district championship for the Tigers.
Schorbrun started slowly, converting four free throws as Jesuit forged a 14-13 first-quarter lead that grew to 30-26 by halftime. Senior forward Scott Collington kept Tampa Catholic close in the first half with 14 points.
But after halftime, the momentum shifted to Jesuit.
"We felt we had a shot at them in the third quarter, but their 9-2 run killed us," Tampa Catholic coach Don Dizagwa said.
That rally increased Jesuit's lead to 39-30, and after consecutive baskets by Donoho, the lead was 45-32.
"We were very prepared to play tonight," Schonbrun said. "Our coaches have put us in position to win all year with thorough preparation. We were confident we would do okay if we stayed with our plan."
The Tigers built their largest lead at 64-46 with three minutes remaining in the game.
Tampa Catholic's Collington led all scorers with 26 and Jesuit's Clayton Yeko came off the bench to score eight in the second half.
"This is just a great bunch of kids we have here at Jesuit," Tigers coach Neil Goldman said. "They've played very well together as a team all year and they deserve this championship."
Jesuit (23-5) will host Pasco, which lost to Wesley Chapel 73-59, in Thursday's region quarterfinals. Tampa Catholic (12-17) will travel to Wesley Chapel.
-- JIM REESE
TAMPA -- Before Tampa Prep's district final showdown with Berkeley Prep, Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon was concerned about containing Buccaneer's guard Spiros Ferderigos, who gave the Terrapins fits twice this season.
Make that three times.
Ferderigos' 25 points led three Bucs in double digits as Berkeley Prep avenged last season's loss to the Terrapins in the final by defeating Tampa Prep 64-43.
"Nine times out of 10 we have the best player on the floor every night," Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart said. "And when you have that, you stand a pretty good chance of winning."
Ferderigos showcased his talent on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot junior also had eight rebounds, seven steals and three assists.
However, Ferderigos wasn't the Buccaneers' only weapon.
Forward Brandon Suarez scored 12 and center Mason Conrad added 11, with 10 coming in the second half when Berkeley Prep turned a two-point haftime lead into a 47-30 third-quarter cushion.
"Spiros is a great player but he's got some good players around him," Reinhart said. "If he was a one-man gang, people would double and triple team him and we wouldn't be able to do anything."
Berkeley Prep's pressure defense broke the game open in the third. Leading 30-28, the Bucs went on a 17-2 run keyed by four consecutive Tampa Prep turnovers that led to a Suarez layup, a David Johnson 3-pointer and a pair of baskets by Ferderigos. For the game, the Terrapins committed 18 turnovers to Berkeley Prep's eight.
Foul trouble limited Terrapins center David Smith, who scored 15 points but only four after halftime.
-- BRANDON WRIGHT
TAMPA -- They are two teams with opposite philosophies. Oldsmar Christian relies on speed and size while Tampa Baptist, lacking both, gets by on solid shooting and strong ball-handling.
When those ideologies went head-to-head, the physically superior team came out on top. Oldsmar Christian defeated Tampa Baptist 46-36 after receiving a solid scare. The Eagles' size was the difference, as big men Trevor Ferguson and Ryan Pannone combined for 22 points, many off the offensive glass.
While Oldsmar Christian ended up with a comfortable victory, the first half was anything but, thanks to a solid game plan from Tampa Baptist coach Ed Torres.
The Rams put the brakes on the Eagles' potent fast break by slowing the game down. First-half Ram offensive possessions routinely lasted for almost a minute and lights-out shooting, including four 3-pointers, helped Tampa Baptist fight through eight ties and take a two-point lead into the locker room.
"We were expecting a tough game and we got one," Oldsmar Christian coach Gary Tait said. "They were working (the ball) to get a good shot."
But after the intermission, Oldsmar Christian took command, launching into a 9-0 run and gaining the lead for good.
Two Eagles scored in double figures. Ferguson registered a game-high 14 points, and guard Larry Bache added 11. Seven of Bache's points came in the second half, most of which he played with four fouls.
Tampa Baptist was led by Ryan Larson, who scored 11. Kyung Seo connected on two 3-pointers and finished with eight for the Rams.
-- ROB BRANNON