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Run-in with ref sidelines Eagle

FHSAA suspends Dante Valentine six weeks after he was ejected from a game.

Published February 7, 2007


Springstead likely will be without its second-leading scorer for the rest of the season after the Florida High School Athletic Association suspended sophomore point guard Dante Valentine six weeks for an incident during the Eagles' loss to Land O'Lakes on Saturday night.

A transfer from Atlanta, Valentine was averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for the Eagles, who went undefeated in Class 4A, District 8 and entered the postseason tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Valentine received a technical foul late in the game against Land O'Lakes. After protesting, he was assessed another technical and expelled from the game.

According to West Central Officials Association booking commissioner Joe Wajerski, who reviewed paperwork filed by the referees involved, Valentine then "used profanity" during a confrontation with the referee.

Eagles coach Craig Swartout declined to discuss the situation in detail, but said he thought the punishment by the FHSAA was "too severe" and he would appeal the suspension.

Nevertheless, Springstead doesn't plan on having its starting point guard for the postseason. The Eagles' best ball-handler, Valentine improved greatly throughout the season.

"I've said all season, we've got 11 guys that can play," Swartout said. "Yeah, we are going to miss him but we are going to plug another person in."

Springstead 19-6, 14-0 faced Gulf (2-12 4A-8) Tuesday night in the first round of the district tournament at South Sumter. The Eagles cruised through the district this season, winning nine of its 14 games by double digits. They face a tough potential second-round matchup against South Sumter, which lost to Springstead by just four points this season.

Second-seeded Nature Coast faced Hudson Tuesday, while No. 6 seed Hernando takes on No. 3 seed Pasco today at 5.

In the Class 5A, District 7 tournament, host and No. 5 seed Central faced No. 4 seed River Ridge Tuesday for the opportunity to face top-seeded Ridgewood in today's semifinals.

David Murphy can be reached at or (352) 848-1407.

[Last modified February 6, 2007, 21:59:12]

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