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Top seniors put on flashy display

Gulf point guard Joe Phillips scores 19 to lead his Red team past the White team 103-82.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2003

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Alley-oop dunks. Crossover dribbles. Head fakes. No-look passes. And 3-pointers -- lots of them, again and again, as 10 players spent the night sprinting up and down the court.

Yes, the inmates were in firm control of the asylum Wednesday night -- if not the ball.

But man, what a blast.

The 2003 Pasco-Hernando Community College Senior Boys Tri-County All-Star Classic, that is, in which 21 of the North Suncoast's top seniors put on a stylish -- and sometimes reckless -- exhibition of hoops in front of 500 at the PHCC gym.

If you must know who won, the Red team beat the White team 103-82, courtesy of 19 points from Gulf point guard Joe Phillips and 15 apiece from post players David Simpson of Wesley Chapel and Kyle Cregan of Mitchell.

Leading the White was Hudson's Maurice Maisonet, who had 17, along with 14 from Ridgewood point guard Chris Halkitis (the halftime 3-point contest champion) and 11 apiece from Citrus' Joel Miller and Springstead's Tadd Hill.

"That was fun," Phillips said. "I wish it was like that in the regular season."

Whoa, let's not get carried away now. The all-star exhibition, last played at Zephyrhills in 1996, was PHCC coach Bobby Bowman's brainchild. It's not only a reward for North Suncoast seniors, but also a chance to play in front of local college scouts.

It was a relaxed affair. The refs forgot their whistles and the coaches forgot their timeouts. Ridgewood coach Gary Anders, on the White bench, knew what the fans wanted.

"Let's just say that the amount of control you have in these games is kind of minimal," he said. "You don't walk the ball up and play halfcourt sets in an all-star game.

"Not even me."

Not that they didn't try. Anders put in a fullcourt press on defense. It lasted two possessions. "They were all exhausted," he said. Land O'Lakes coach Dave Puhalski had the Red team learn two offensive sets. "Just like my regular team, they abandoned it and went on to win without them," he said.

Simpson said the All-Star game is an idea whose time has come again.

"It was a lot of fun," said Simpson, who had five dunks and shared MVP honors with Phillips. "They need to do this more often."

And so they shall.

"I think so, definitely," Bowman said. "It was good for the visibility of the players, and it's good to see them get this kind of experience."

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