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Girls hoops: Pinellas district preview
By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
Published January 27, 2008
Girls basketball in this county has become a kid's game, dominated by freshmen, sophomores, maybe a stray junior. Virtually extinct is the mature and talented senior leader, a player who can hoist a team with playoff aspirations onto her shoulders.
A few programs do possess that rare commodity. So look for blood, sweat and lots of tears as these stars from the class of 2008 try to extend their seasons in their last go-round and prove that girls basketball in this county is anything but child's play.
Class 6A, District 7 at Alonso
Schedule - Wednesday: Countryside (4) vs. Gaither (5), 6; Mitchell (3) vs. Alonso (6), 8; Friday: St. Petersburg (2) vs. Mitchell-Alonso winner, 6; Sickles (1) vs. Countryside-Gaither winner, 8; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: St. Petersburg, the No. 2 seed, got a huge momentum boost with a convincing win against Clearwater this week. The Green Devils likely will play top-seeded Sickles in the final. Countryside has played in some close games and could pull off an upset.
Senior leader: Sharlese Hughes, St. Petersburg
One of only three Green Devil seniors, Hughes provides the points in the paint, averaging 7.8 per game, second best on the team.
Class 5A, District 9 at Largo
Schedule - Wednesday: PHU (4) vs. Tarpon Springs (5), 5; Largo (3) vs. East Lake (6), 6:30; Dunedin (2) vs. Pinellas Park (7), 8; Friday: Largo-East Lake winner vs. Dunedin-Pinellas Park winner, 6:30; Clearwater (1) vs. PHU-Tarpon Springs winner, 8; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: The top-seeded Tornadoes are aiming for their 18th district title, including 13 of the past 15. The best matchup in the semifinals could be between Largo and Dunedin. Both teams had big wins this week.
Senior leader: Egypt Thomas, Largo
The Seminole transfer has provided some oomph to the Packers offense, scoring 21.4 points per game. She is one of six seniors at Largo.
Class 5A, District 11 at Seminole
Schedule - Wednesday: Dixie Hollins (4) vs. Seminole (5), 5; Gibbs (3) vs. Northeast (6), 6:30; Lakewood (2) vs. Osceola (7), 8; Friday: Gibbs-Northeast winner vs. Lakewood-Osceola winner, 6; Dixie Hollins-Seminole winner vs. Boca Ciega (1), 7:30; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: Lakewood and Boca Ciega have met in the final the past three seasons. Expect the same teams to square off again for the title. The edge goes to the Pirates, who swept the season series.
Senior leader: Kerah Nelson, Lakewood
She has become a stabilizing force on a team that lost four starters from last season. Dominant inside, she is averaging 23.4 points and nearly seven rebounds per game.
Class 3A, District 11 at Tampa Catholic
Schedule - Wednesday: CCC (4) vs. Berkeley Prep (5), 6; Tampa Catholic (3) vs. Lennard (6), 7:30; Friday: CCC-Berkeley winner vs. St. Petersburg Catholic (1), 6; Tampa Catholic-Lennard winner vs. Academy of the Holy Names (2), 7:30; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: The Barons, the top seed, swept their district counterparts, winning each game by 11 points or more. They will likely face Tampa Catholic or Holy Names in the final.
Senior leader: Sasha Chaplin, St. Petersburg Catholic
The Indiana signee is arguably the best player in the area. Using her height (6 feet 3) to her advantage, Chaplin towers over the competition with 16.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Class 2A, District 9 at Indian Rocks Christian
Schedule - Friday: Bishop McLaughlin (3) vs. IRC (2), 6; Calvary Christian (4) vs. Tampa Prep (1), 7:30; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: The Golden Eagles, the No. 2 seed, got hot down the stretch, winning four of their past five, including an upset over top-seeded Tampa Prep.
Senior leader: Meredith Monti, Indian Rocks Christian
The Golden Eagles' tallest player (6-2) is one of their most versatile, averaging 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, both second-best on the team.
Class 2A, District 11 at Bradenton St. Stephen's
Schedule - Tuesday: St. Stephen's vs. Admiral Farragut, 7; Friday: Northside Christian. (2) vs. Shorecrest (3), 6; Keswick Christian vs. St. Stephen's-Admiral Farragut winner, 7:30. Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: The top-seeded Cruasaders have moved up to No. 7 in the Class A state poll by winning 20 of their last 21. They should face No. 2 seed Northside Christian in the final.
Senior leader: Kate Carl, Keswick Chr.
The St. Petersburg Catholic transfer gave the Crusaders another weapon on a team loaded with seniors. Carl averages a team-high 17.9 points per game. Class A, District 11 at Citrus Park Christian
Class A, District 11 at Citrus Park Christian
Schedule - Tuesday: Oldsmar Chr. (4) vs. Canterbury (5), 7; Thursday: Academy at the Lakes (3) vs. Citrus Park Chr. (2), 5; Oldsmar Chr.-Canterbury winner vs. Lakeside Chr. (1), 7; Saturday: final, 7.
Outlook: After starting 1-3, Lakeside won nine of its past 11 to earn the top seed.
Senior leader: Lauren Dugan, Lakeside Christian
The guard has been a mainstay with the program and is averaging 8.4 points and 4.4 steals per game.