Wharton takes top honors

Published April 14, 2005

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association named Tommy Tonelli coach of the year, while his Wharton Wildcats were tabbed county team of the year Wednesday.

Tonelli led the Wildcats to a 26-3 record and the Class 5A, District 7 championship.

"The real reason we had a great year was because of our players," Tonelli said. "They and my assistant coaches deserve all the credit."

Josh Simpson, a key floor leader and defender for Wharton, received the Paul Straub Award as player of the year.

Robinson received the Heart of A Champion award for overcoming numerous tragedies in its athletic family. Coach Steve Smith said he was proud of the way his team pulled together after the deaths of former football player Kwane Doster and junior varsity basketball player Johnathan Simmons.

Jerry Lambert was named official of the year and Plant coach Mike Phillips received the William Bethel Award for his dedication to high school athletics.

Wharton, Jesuit, and Plant received the Bill Poe Award, presented by the ex-Tampa mayor and his son to honor their meritorious community work. Berkeley Prep's Brandon Suarez was named captain of the Fred Lowe/Mark Aubin all-academic team.