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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.
LAKELAND - Debra Aplin tried to fool her husband, Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin, on Friday, but she failed miserably. The plan was to surprise him by having the couple's daughter, Ashley, a University of Florida student, show up to the Chiefs' final against Gainesville Eastside. But while Debra was setting things up, Doug quickly caught on.
"He kind of figured it out," Debra Aplin said. "He kept on saying, "Who are you talking to? I want to know who you're buying tickets for.' "
Ashley couldn't make it to Wednesday's semifinal because she had a test. But she left UF's campus Friday morning and arrived in Tampa in time to ride to the game on the team bus with her parents. Ashley also attended Chamberlain's previous final four appearance in 1990 when she was 6.
"I don't remember much, but I remember I was wearing a little cheerleading outfit," Ashley said moments before Friday's tipoff.
DEFINITELY, MAYBE: Before the final four, Doug Aplin, 51, said he would decide after the season if he would return to Chamberlain for a 29th year. After Friday's defeat, he said it was 90-10 that he'd be back for a another go. But, he added, "We'll have to see."
SIXTH MAN: Give credit to Chamberlain fans for sticking with the Chiefs the entire way. Even when Chamberlain was down 29, the group of several hundred in green and gold continued to cheer. During the Chiefs' fourth-quarter rally, their noise reached a fever pitch.
"They were awesome," Aplin said. "They never gave up on us."
LASTING MOMENT: As he walked to center court to receive his silver medal, Chamberlain point guard Dantavis Adkins, a sophomore and his team's youngest starter, was moved by the moment. "I was thinking about how I'm going to miss my team," he said. "We have a lot of seniors."
ODDS AND ENDS: The title was Eastside's first. The Rams were playing in their fifth final four. ... Chamberlain fell to 2-3 all time at the final four and 0-2 in title games. The Chiefs were hoping to become just the 11th county team to win a championship in the event's 84 years. The first was Hillsborough in 1924. The most recent was Tampa Catholic in 1995. ... Aplin was called for a technical in the second half, his first of the season. And what did he say to the official? He wasn't telling, but admitted that "I deserved it." ... One season ended Friday for Aplin, but another is about to start. He coaches the school's flag football team. The Chiefs' first game is March 15.
LAST WORD: "The best thing about this team was that we had a whole bunch of personalities. And they all came together." - Chamberlain guard Brandon Jefferson.