tampabay.com

End of hoop days nears for Warrior

By PHIL KEGLER
Published February 15, 2007


When Drew Donovan walks onto the court tonight, he knows it could be the last time he dons his No. 5 Seven Rivers Christian jersey.

"It's kind of overwhelming to think this could be our last game as a group of seniors," Donovan said. "At the same time, it's kind of exciting. It gives us added incentive to leave everything on the court because it could be our last one."

Seven Rivers (20-7) will take on Maitland's Orangewood Christian (18-8) at 7 p.m. at Crystal River High.

Donovan's biggest contributions are in defense and leadership, not always easy for a high school player in this stat-obsessed sports era.

Coach Jim Ervin always assigns the 5-foot-11 guard to the opponent's best player. Tonight that likely will mean 6-1 Ryan Stephens or 6-5 Austin Riddick, Orangewood's top guards.

"It's a great honor that Coach has that confidence in me that I can do that," the senior said. "I just want to help my team out because I know it takes all of us to win a game."

Throughout the season, Donovan would call Ervin sometimes and discuss the team's strategy for an upcoming opponent, relaying the information to teammates.

A four-year varsity player, Donovan has seen plenty of heartbreak along the way.

Donovan didn't play in the district title game his freshman year and only sparingly his sophomore year. A starter last year, he felt the team had potential but didn't play well and was upset in the first round of the district tournament.

Donovan was motivated to work even harder this year.

"It was just amazing to finally win one and finally accomplish our goal," Donovan said of the district title. "It was awesome to get one for Erv, too. He's been wanting that for many more years than us."

Whenever this ride ends, Ervin will miss his defensive stopper, the player who gives 100 percent each practice, no matter hurt or sick, winning each and every sprint and conditioning drill.

But what will Ervin miss most?

"A great young man."