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Unbeaten girls team set for basket battle of the sexes

Academy Prep's Lady Eagles, which has won 31 consecutive games, will take on the school's boys team Feb. 17 at the school.

Published February 8, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Their season is officially over, but one more game remains. It might be the hottest of the year.

Academy Prep's girls basketball team, unbeaten in two years, will play the school's boys team in a few days.

"We're going to win," eighth-grade point guard Jerica Coley said with assurance.

The game is 10:30 a.m. Feb. 17 at the school, and the boys will have something to say about the result. But a female victory would not be so surprising.

Academy Prep's Lady Eagles have won 31 consecutive games. About two weeks ago, they won a 16-team tournament that in effect made them the Tampa Bay area champion among private middle schools.

They also provided the spark for a boys-and-girls student team that beat the school staff. It was the first such student victory in Academy Prep's nine-year history, said Jim Shearer, the head of school.

"They are an extraordinary group of girls," Shearer said. Six of the eight-member team are honor roll students, he said.

The coach is Tamika Coley. She was a star player for Pinellas Park High School in the early 1990s, going on to a successful college career at the University of Central Florida, where she was named to the all-conference first team.

Coley, 31, was an assistant coach for head coach Andy Shannon last year, taking over the top job this year. It's a volunteer position. For a full-time job, she works with the YWCA's family housing program.

Can her team beat the boys, who compiled a 9-5 record this year?

"They are extremely competitive," Coley said. "I think they'll give them a real close game. I think the boys are really going to be surprised."

Academy Prep, 2301 22nd Ave. S, has 96 students in grades 5 through 8. It serves many youngsters from Midtown. The school emphasizes academics, individual growth and striving for college.

The basketball team is not a group of all-stars, Coley said. They are of nearly uniform height, most about 5 feet 6, which is big for middle school. A few have played together for several years. But their biggest asset is working together as a team, Coley said. None are highly athletic, Coley said, but all have built on a solid knowledge of basketball fundamentals.

Students of the game, the girls watch their opponents closely and like to analyze their techniques. During one game, opposing team members would shout different code words before running a play.

"They'd say "bacon' or "wheel' that were supposed to be names for different plays, but they were really the same play," Cohen said.

Academy Prep's teams have no inside court and play all their games away. They practice on a cement court outdoors.

Their toughest opponent during the past two seasons has been Tampa's Trinity Charter School.

Academy Prep won by 9 points in the tournament last month. "They gave us the ultimate respect," Shearer said. "They cheered for us the rest of the tournament."


Kyra Daniel, 12

Taye'lor Trotter, 13

Shantaviae Wynn, 13

Jerica Coley, 14

Tynequia Williams, 12

Destini Oglesby, 12,

Jasmine Cohen, 13

Kamika Idom, 13

[Last modified February 8, 2006, 01:15:22]

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