A few teams still have shot at title

Things look good for Sickles in wrestling and boys basketball. Also in the mix in both sports is Chamberlain.

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 17, 2006

As we get deeper into the postseason for high school basketball and wrestling, a dwindling number of local teams and athletes remain in the hunt for state championships.

Individual wrestlers as well as boys and girls basketball teams from a variety of north Hillsborough County schools - including Chamberlain, Freedom, Jefferson, Sickles and Wharton - remain active with chances of reaching the state tournament in their sports.

A couple of promising teams fell short in the regional finals. Gaither's boys soccer team was ranked as high as No. 1 in the country by some publications, but the Cowboys lost their district championship when they were unable to get past the tough Clearwater Countryside defense in two of three matches.


Sickles heavyweight Joe Russell and Chamberlain 140-pounder Mike White are leading north Hillsborough wrestlers into the elite competition of the state tournament, Thursday through Saturday in Lakeland.

Both wrestlers won regional championships. Russell (39-2) won the Class 3A title and White (31-3) won in the 2A Region meet.

Chamberlain senior Patrick Spano earned his trip to the state tournament by coming in fourth in the region at 152 pounds. He enters with a 35-5 record.

Wharton senior John Taylor (215) enters with a 20-6 record and Freedom senior Derrick McCoy earned a berth at the state meet at 160 pounds with a 25-4 record. Both earned their state trip in Class 2A.


Sickles won the Class 6A, District 7 championship Saturday 54-44 over St. Petersburg. Matt Johnson led the Gryphons offense with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Page contributed 13 to help secure the victory.

The Gryphons were to host a quarterfinal game Thursday after North of Tampa's press time.

Chamberlain defeated Jefferson 62-43 to capture the Class 5A, District 10 title. Although the Chiefs used a fiery offense to win more than 20 games in the regular season, it was the Chamberlain defense that set the table for its district championship, by shutting out the Dragons' scoring during the opening period.

Chamberlain spread its offense around with Kylan Robinson scoring 14 points, James Devlin 13 and Cory Haynes 12.

Aaron Jennings led Jefferson with 11 points and Marcellino Rodriguez added 10.

Chamberlain was to host its quarterfinal game Thursday, with Jefferson traveling to its game.

Wharton and Brandon dueled in double overtime before the Eagles pulled out a 49-48 win over the Wildcats for the Class 5A, District 8 championship.

It was the fourth game this season between the two strong teams. Each won two and a final-four berth may be determined in a fifth game if both win their first two regional matches.

Anthony Gomez led the Wildcats offense with 14 points.


After quarterfinal regional games last week, Freedom was the only area team still competing. But the Lady Patriots were eliminated from postseason play in the regional semifinals Tuesday night.

In the quarterfinals, Freedom made it through with a 67-45 victory over Wesley Chapel. Alonso was eliminated by Sarasota Riverview 57-37.

Freedom had a slim 25-24 lead over Wesley Chapel after two quarters. But in the second half, the Patriots' balanced attack and defense limited the Wildcats to 21 points. Freedom added 42 points in the final two quarters.

Tandra Faulkner led Freedom with 18 points, followed by Charkia Harvey, 17, and Brianna Nelson, 16.

But on Tuesday night, Freedom lost 82-65 to Lakeland Lake Gibson in the Class 5A semifinal game. Whitney Jennings had 20 points for Freedom. Faulkner had 18 and Nelson 16.