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Who needs sweet when tough gets results

With Mike Quarto at the helm, Gulf hasn't had even a whiff of a losing season in two years.

Published March 26, 2006

NEW PORT RICHEY - Many believe a tyrant paces Gulf's sideline. Coach Mike Quarto is relentless, his stack constantly blowing even if the Buccaneers are suffocating the opponent.

If Gulf gains a 20-, 30-, 40-point lead, he scrutinizes over pinpoint execution. Referees have warned him for digging into his players. Fans harass him the way his defense swarms forwards and guards.

Who can argue with results?

Under Quarto's direction, Gulf became one of the most feared programs in Class 4A just three seasons after he took over the perennial punching bag.

Gulf was a combined 2-42 the two seasons before he was hired. Compare that to Gulf's 54-4 record in his last two seasons with back-to-back conference and district titles.

Despite Gulf's 29-2 record and region final berth, Quarto was not voted Sunshine Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, chosen by county coaches.

This year's winner was Mitchell's Stephanie Koslin, who boasted an undefeated run through her district and a 23-5 record. Mitchell finished second in the conference and lost twice to Gulf.

"Was I disappointed? No," Quarto said. "A little shocked? Yeah, I was a little shocked. Coach Koslin had a great year.

"I was more upset because of the kids."

Quarto said his players deserved more recognition. Tiara Cook and Dominique English were first-team all-conference selections. Santana Lennon was voted to the second team; Turquoise Sampson the third team.

"Turquoise Sampson is a last pick?" Quarto asked. "How is a kid who is second team as a sophomore dropped to third team with better stats? "

Quarto believes Gulf was punished for an influx of transfers. "I think a lot of them (coaches) were upset about the transfer kids," Quarto said. "I don't know why. "

Cook, Allison and English were already at Gulf when Quarto took over in 2003. That team went 17-8. Sampson transferred in from Mitchell in 2004 and Gulf went 25-2. This season, Lennon came from Zephyrhills. Quarto may have coached his final girls basketball game. He is a candidate for the Zephyrhills boys vacancy.

"When you go 29-2 and make it to the regional final there's just one more thing to accomplish, to reach the final four," Quarto said. "We had a great run. I'll be more than happy to still be the Gulf coach."

[Last modified March 26, 2006, 00:26:15]

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