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Despite loss in playoffs, Cowboys end with solid basketball season

Gaither loses to Orlando Boone in the semifinals, but finishes the season 18-9.

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001


TAMPA -- The Gaither boys basketball team exited the state playoffs in a 56-37 loss to Orlando Boone on Tuesday, ending its season at 18-9 and one game away from the regional finals. But a closer look reveals the Cowboys and coach Dwayne Olinger had a solid season.

Not only did Gaither win its third straight Class 6A, District 7 championship, but the Cowboys advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time and boasted a lineup that included standouts Marcus Russell, Kenny Huebner and freshman Antonio Russell. Teammates Kyle Kostyun, Jon Huebner and Marcus Cobb all played key roles for the Cowboys this season.

"There hadn't been a team all season that we said we could just show up and beat," said Olinger. "That's how we come into every game."

That style worked well until Gaither faced Boone in the regional semifinals. Despite a close opening period, Gaither fell prey to a bigger, more physical Boone lineup that went on a 39-19 run in the second and third periods to seal the Cowboys fate.

Kenny Huebner, who was solid throughout the playoffs, led Gaither with 18 points against Boone. That followed his 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in the 65-51 quarterfinal victory over Sarasota Riverview.

"We've played pretty well," Huebner said of the season-end loss to Boone. "But that's a great team."

BOYS SOCCER: Gaither's soccer team also ended its season last week. The Cowboys lost 4-3 to Orange Park on penalty kicks Feb. 24 in the Class 4A state championship final. The two teams played four overtimes but were still tied at zero. In the shootout, the Raiders converted all four of their shots and goalie Chris Goralczyk stopped a shot by Gaither's Travis Bourguinon. Brenden Crampton's last shot sailed high. Gaither ended the season with a record of 24-4-1, a game shy of becoming the first Florida public high school to repeat as state champions since Daytona Beach Seabreeze did it in 1992-93.

BASEBALL: While Leto, Sickles and Chamberlain all suffered losses onTuesday, Wharton was busy scoring its biggest win of the young season. Leto fell 4-3 to Blake, its record dropped to 3-3. Despite eight hits, Chamberlain lost 5-0 to King, putting the Chiefs record at 4-3. Sickles also lost, being held to four hits by Durant in a 3-0 game. The Gryphons remain winless at 0-4.

Wharton (5-1) pulled off a 3-2 win against Plant, ranked 30th in the nation among high school teams by the magazine Baseball America. The Wildcats scored three runs over the first three innings and held off a late Panther rally. Wharton hosts Chamberlain Tuesday, Leto is at Armwood, Sickles is at Bloomingdale and Gaither is at Durant.

SOFTBALL: Sickles is still unbeaten after a 4-3 victory against Durant on Tuesday. The Gryphons, who scored three runs in the fifth inning to post the comeback win, are 4-0. Pitcher Julie Henneke limited the Cougars to four hits while improving to 4-0 on the season.

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