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He has mane, game

Grady Jorgensen displays a toughness that drives state semifinalist St. Petersburg Catholic.

By CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published February 28, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - "Dude, what's up with the hair?"

"Nice headband."

"Look, it's Shirley Temple."

St. Petersburg Catholic senior guard Grady Jorgensen has heard all season about his floppy haircut and the headband he wears every game.

But, no worries.

The Barons' co-captain, originally a cornerback in football, thrives off it.

"I get a kick out of it," said Jorgensen, who started wearing a sports band to keep hair from falling into his eyes. "Yeah, Jesuit always calls me Shirley Temple. It's actually pretty funny."

But Jorgensen's play and work ethic are far from it.

"Grady's toughness has defined who we are as a team," said coach Mike Moran, who has led the Barons to state three consecutive years, including Wednesday's semifinal against Boca Raton St. Andrew's. "Going into the game against (Melbourne) Florida Air and then (Fort Myers) Bishop Verot, we talked about how the tougher team would be the one who would win. And, you saw how we responded in both games."

Jorgensen, who gave up football after his freshman season because of a severe neck injury, has been instrumental during SPC's playoff run. In the district final against Tampa Catholic, the curly-haired senior scored eight of his 10 points to quell a Crusaders run. And in the region semifinals against Florida Air - which ousted SPC two of the previous three seasons - Jorgensen scored 23 and backcourt mate Noah Cumby had a career-high 27 points.

"Grady's been awesome these past two years," said Cumby, Jorgensen's best friend off the court. "He's gotten better and better each year. And, what doesn't get noticed in the boxscore is how good of a defender he is. He's probably our best player on defense."

That's saying a lot, with senior forward and Florida State signee Aaron Holmes, junior forward Ed Rolax, who leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots, and junior guard Jock Sanders, who brings his football tenacity to the court.

Like last year against Florida Air. Jorgensen, who leads the Barons this seson at more than four steals a game, held in check Walter Hodge, now a starter at Florida.

"Grady has really developed as a player," Moran said. "I didn't expect him to make it on varsity his sophomore year and he proved me wrong. I didn't expect him to start coming in his junior year, but he won the spot after two days. But, what I did expect is this year and the way he's played all year long. And, the one word to sum him up is tough."

And, every now and then, that toughness rears its head, football style. Like in the 64-60 region final win over Bishop Verot.

"Yeah, there was a play where some guy came through the middle of the lane and I kinda gave him a bit of a elbow shiver, which put him on the floor," Jorgensen said. "He was all right, but that hit felt good."

Doesn't sound much like a Shirley Temple, does it?