tampabay.com

Tougher schedule makes for tougher team

Calvary Christian falls, but the competition from teams like The Rock's raises the bar.

By JOE SMITH
Published March 1, 2007


LAKELAND - Brian Horrach sat silently on the bench, his head down, buried in a white towel.

The final seconds were ticking away in Calvary Christian's season-ending 51-38 loss to Gainesville The Rock and the senior guard couldn't help but reflect.

"I realized," he said, "it's over."

Horrach, a four-year starter and co-captain, was instrumental in the Warriors' transformation from a Class A punching bag to a potential power.

Four years ago, Horrach enrolled at Calvary instead of Clearwater, an established 5A contender. The Warriors, then a fourth-year program, had gone 27-41 the previous two seasons, including a 60-7 loss to Pinellas Park. This year, Calvary set a school record with 27 wins and its first region championship.

"Brian came in when we were really, really bad," Calvary coach Dave Bintz said. "He's the guy we built from."

Horrach helped put Calvary on the map. Now it's up to the Warriors to take the next step.

To do so, they need to schedule more teams like The Rock.

The Lions (26-7) boasted wins over 5A powers Gainesville and Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer. They nearly upset 6A state semifinalist Orlando Dr. Phillips. The battle-tested Lions strolled into their first final four with a silent swagger; the Warriors ambled in like a deer in headlights.

"We were all nervous," said Horrach, who shot 2-for-14. "You walk out of the tunnel, and you're like, 'Wow'... They were the best team we've seen all year."

Bintz admittedly scheduled "light" during the lean years, building toward this season, the Warriors' "shot." With starters like Horrach, Mississippi-bound forward Kevin Cantinol and guard Andrew Giancola graduating, Bintz will have to rebuild.

No one questions the 53-year-old's toughness. A prostate cancer survivor and former stock car driver, Bintz rarely backs down from a battle.

Let's see if he takes a chance - much like Horrach did four years ago - and ensure the Warriors' toughest game isn't their last.