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County's best to face Pinellas team

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2003

Tampa Bay area coaches have talked about it for years, but only now is it going to happen: The first Hillsborough vs. Pinellas All-Star Game.

Largo coach Phil Price and Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli brought up the idea again at the Leto basketball tournament in January, and after that, Price took the initiative.

"It was just a matter of a couple of guys making a phone call," Price said.

Then it was a matter of nailing down a site and a date, which Price also did by securing Largo's gym on April18. In coming years, the site is expected to rotate between schools in both counties.

Players from both squads, likely made up of 10 players, will be chosen by coaches from all-star games held in each county. Hillsborough County's all-star game is tonight at Jefferson.

"It's great to get competition between the counties like this," Tonelli said. "I'm not sure why it didn't happen sooner, but I'm glad it's going to happen now.

"Hopefully this is something we can do for many, many years."

Unfortunately for the Pinellas team, Price can't count on the county's top player, Largo point guard Mike O'Donnell, who signed with North Carolina State.

NCAA rules prohibit high school players from competing in more than two all-star games. O'Donnell already has played in the state all-star game and also will play in the Florida-Georgia game next week.

-- Times staff writer John C. Cotey contributed to this report.

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