CARROLLWOOD - By the time the dust settled on National Signing Day, the North of Tampa area had eight more football players with new college addresses. Chamberlain and Alonso high schools led the way with three players each signing, while Jefferson and Leto high schools each had one player sign.
The third-year Alonso Ravens enjoyed an 8-2 season and their first trip to the post season. John Forbes, Leger Douzable and James Rue all contributed to the Alonso success. In fact, Forbes, a 5-foot-8, 178-pound running back, was key. Forbes led Hillsborough County in rushing with 1,700-plus yards and 22 touchdowns and won the Guy Toph Award as the county's top prep football player. Forbes will continue his career playing for Navy.
One of his offensive lineman, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Douzable, signed with the University of Central Florida. And Rue, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound corner back and kick returner, signed with Gannon University, a Division II school in Erie, Pa.
Meanwhile, Chamberlain players Sidney Bryant (quarterback), Doug Williams (defensive lineman) and Brandon Williams (wide receiver) signed their deals. Bryant (5-10, 180 pounds), who led the Chiefs to three straight postseason appearances as their offensive leader, will attend Charleston Southern while the unrelated Doug Williams (6-foot-3, 255 lbs.) and Brandon Williams (6-1, 170 lbs.) will share more than names as both players are going to Akron.
Also, wide receivers Crosby Baptiste (Leto) and Antonio Graham (Jefferson) will both attend Tennessee State.
GIRLS BASKETBALL: The regular season ended Feb. 6 with some of the best basketball being played in Class 4A, District 11. And as that district tournament tips off, the surprise team could be Freedom High School. Although Jefferson, Blake and Armwood also have played well, Freedom could challenge.
The Patriots finished the regular season 13-9 and boast two playmakers in guards Tandra Faulkner (15 points per game) and Briana Nelson (10 ppg, 4.5 assists per game). Jefferson, meanwhile, has its own standout performer in Terrosany Ingram. A junior guard, Ingram ended the regular season with 20 or more points in six of her last nine games.
BOYS SOCCER: While Freedom and Gaither captured district crowns, their championships came at the expense of other local squads, Jefferson and Wharton.
Freshman Miguel Martes scored two goals, the second coming on penalty kicks, to lift Freedom to a 2-1 win against Jefferson in the Class 4A, District 11 final. Meanwhile, the Class 5A, District 7 final gave Wharton one more chance to beat Gaither this season. However, the Wildcats fell to the Cowboys for the third time this year after a 2-1 Gaither win. Freshman Edward Ababio scored twice for the Cowboys. Still, all four squads advance to their class' regional tournaments.
GIRLS SOCCER: Freedom opened regional tournament play with the same style it has displayed most of the season: winning. The Patriots got goals from Erin Wilson and Christine McClelland in a 2-1 win against Bartow to open the Class 4A, Region 3 tournament. Freedom has won 15 of 20 matches so far this season.
Gaither and Sickles opened Class 5A, Region 2 play with varying results. Gaither got a goal and an assist from the red-hot Shanna Pace in a 2-0 win against Plant. In her last three matches, Pace has four goals. Sickles, meanwhile, could only get a goal from Wendy Moenart in a 2-1 loss to Hillsborough.
ALUMNI: Former Wharton standout basketball player Candice Dupree is having a breakthrough season at Temple University. As the Owl's starting center/forward, the 6-foot-2 sophomore is leading the team in points per game (13.9), blocked shots (36), rebounds per game (7.3) while starting all 21 games. Dupree's presence has lifted Temple to first place in the Atlantic 10 conference with a 9-1 record.
Also, former Sickles pitcher Casey McKenzie is off to a 2-0 start for the University of Tampa. McKenzie, a senior right-handed pitcher, earned his second win in dominant fashion Feb. 8 at Georgia College and State in Milledgeville, Ga. McKenzie pitched seven innings, allowing four hits, one run while striking out eight batters. He has a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings pitched this season and leads the Spartans pitching staff with 17 strikeouts.