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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By Times staff writers
Published November 19, 2005
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. MITCHELL (16-10): The only Pasco County team in this district will dominate Hillsborough and Pinellas teams. The Mustangs return all starters from a team that advanced to regionals, in addition to D.J. Crosby, a starter two years ago who missed last year because of a torn ACL.
2. SICKLES (15-6): The Gryphons lost their top scorers in all-county selections David Senyak and Brandon Powell to graduation. But don't cry for coach Reynaldo Garcia. Sickles returns 10 players from varsity, including six seniors, and showed their potential in the Tampa Bay Coaches Association summer league, going 9-1.
3. ST. PETERSBURG (19-6): The Green Devils lost their most productive players in Marquis Ford and Brian Blakely. St. Petersburg will try to fill their spots with senior guard Christian Boyle, who moves back to the point after a season at the No. 2 spot, and Donald Bowens, a 6-3 athletic forward who can fly up and down the court.
4. GAITHER: The Cowboys return a deadly outside shooter in John Lullen and a force to be reckoned with inside in 6-4 Carlton Mitchell.
5. COUNTRYSIDE (9-17): The Cougars return streaky scoring threat Peter Alexandrou, who averaged 16 points last season and was Countryside's top shooter. Countryside lost a few key transfers, but returns a starting lineup of three seniors and two juniors, including point guard Josh Crawford.
6. ALONSO: The Ravens lose first-team all-county selection Jonathan Ball, who played all spots last year, to the University of Tampa.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MITCH FOSTER, SR., MITCHELL
The 6-4 forward was first-team all-conference and all-Pasco County last year. An inside-out player, Foster was just as dominant around the basket as beyond the arc. He led the Mustangs with 16.7 ppg, double his previous season's average, and was the Mustangs' second-most productive 3-point shooter, making 42 percent. Coach Andy Schmitz expects Foster to increase his output this year and top his 27-point high against Pasco last year.
SHAMON COX, FR., ST. PETERSBURG
Cox is a 6-3 slasher that could start on the wing for the Green Devils this season. He is athletic enough to run the floor and score from the outside, but coach Chris Blackwell said he is strong enough to see some significant time in the paint. With Donald Bowens on the other side, opposing teams will have a hard time keeping up with the Green Devil forwards.
F - Mitch Foster, Sr., Mitchell
After D.J. Crosby tore his ACL last season, Foster stepped up to take the leadership reins and guide the Mustangs into the postseason.
F - Donald Bowens, Sr., St. Petersburg.
Bowens has nice size at 6-4, great hands and outstanding speed, making him the most complete athlete in the district. Without Brian Blakely around, he'll be counted on to assert himself inside.
G - David Johnson, Sr., Sickles
Coach Garcia expects Johnson to take over where Powell left off. The best shooter on the team who also is adept at running the offense, he averaged eight points and four assists.
G - John Lullen, Jr., Gaither
Averaged 11 points last season and is probably the best 3-point shooter in a shooter's league.
G - Christian Boyle, Sr., St. Petersburg
Boyle assumes the point guard duties with an 11 ppg and 4.0 apg average from 2004-05.
TOP 3 STORYLINES
1. SOMETHING NEW ... : This district brings together teams from Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and pretty much kills any potential rivalries as a result. Even the Pinellas entries, Countryside and St. Petersburg, are a good hour away with traffic.
2. ONWARD CHRISTIAN: St. Petersburg has been on the way to establishing itself as a playoff regular, but losing your point guard is always a tough blow. Christian Boyle has all the skills to play the position, but does he have the pass-first, shoot-second mind-set in the right order?
3. FEELING A LITTLE SICKLES: The Gryphons lost two district games last year and the district final to the same team, which happens to be in another district this year. Good riddance, Wharton! Now with everyone back, Sickles has designs on capturing that elusive title.
Compiled by Times staff writer John C. Cotey and Times correspondent Chris Girandola.