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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.
ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg star sophomore Shamon Cox stepped up this summer by slimming down.
The stocky swingman dropped 20 pounds, forming a more manageable 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame.
But Cox, an all-county honorable mention pick as a freshman, will likely have to shoulder a heavier load this season.
The Green Devils, district runnerup last year, lost Donald Bowens (now playing football at N.C. State). Coach Chris Blackwell said Bowens' graduation leaves a leadership vacuum as well as a big hole in the post.
Enter Cox, a streaky shooter that can slash into the lane at any time.
Said Blackwell: "He's one of the best sophomores in the state."
STINGY CREW: Countryside coach Bob Marinak said his team has already pledged to break the school's single-season mark for fewest points allowed, like the Cougars did last year.
"The guys are pretty pumped up," Marinak said. "I wouldn't put it past them."
1. Sickles: The defending champion returns a strong nucleus of players.
2. St. Petersburg: Young, athletic group, led by star sophomore Shamon Cox, will be in the mix.
3. Countryside: Losing Peter Alexandrou (Florida College) will hurt, but stingy Cougars 'D' keeps them in playoff contention.
4. Gaither: Athletic group could surprise some teams.
5. Mitchell: Have to replace too more than a handful players.
6. Alonso: Won't have enough balance to reach upper echelon of district.
Games to watch
Tuesday: St. Petersburg at Clearwater: The Green Devils, facing one of the county's best, get a good early-season indicator.
Dec. 7, Countryside vs. St. Petersburg: Will Cougars' stingy 'D' shut down St. Petersburg scoring machine Shamon Cox?
Players to watch
Shamon Cox, St. Petersburg: Streaky-scoring sophomore can go inside and out.
DaShawn Matias, Countryside: The senior forward averaged 10 points and seven rebounds last year.
Josh Crawford, Countryside: The 5-10 senior point guard sets the table for the Cougars.