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By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001
When Eckerd College lost to Barry in the second round of the Sunshine State Conference men's basketball tournament last week, coach Tom Ryan thought the season was over.
Even at 22-7 overall and 10-4 in the conference, Ryan figured champion Florida Southern would be the only conference team to move on to the regional tournament.
Then his phone rang. Not only was Eckerd in the regional tournament for the fourth time in school history, it was a second seed and would get to play at home.
"What I didn't know is that we were ranked second in our region going into the tournament," Ryan said. "I figured we had to win the tournament. But after we won our first game, that was enough."
Florida Southern, Tampa and Eckerd each received Southern Regional bids. The winner advances to the national NCAA Division II tournament.
Dwayne Smith led Eckerd this season with 12.5 points per game. Clevon Dunbar averaged 11.6 points per game. Kendrick Wilson, Cerwin Thompson, Lester Chang Fong and Brian Stapf were also key contributors.
The Eckerd women's team, despite a 3-11 conference record, gave No. 2 seed Florida Southern a scare in the first round before losing 64-58. Eckerd led by five at halftime, but gave way in the second half.
Felecia Felton scored 21 points and Katie Cole added 16 in the loss.
TOURNAMENT CHANGE: After seven years of playing its men's and women's conference basketball tournament at the Lakeland Center, the SSC announced it will hold its 2002 conference tournament at Florida Tech in Melbourne.
Conference commissioner Don Landry said the executive committee wanted to switch the conference tournament to campus sites.
"The decision was not something made at the spur of the moment," Landry said in a release. "It's something that has been discussed for the past couple of years.
"It will give each campus and community and opportunity to showcase the tournament and become more involved in the conference as a whole."
TROJANS BASEBALL: After today's non-conference game against Rhode Island Community College, St. Petersburg Junior College starts the meat of its Suncoast Conference schedule.
SPJC has 24 consecutive conference games beginning Monday against Pasco-Hernando CC and ending on April 21 against Manatee CC.
SPJC is hoping to make a third straight trip to the Florida Junior College World Series.
The Trojans lost to North Florida JC of Jacksonville in the championship game of last season's state championship.
ECKERD BASEBALL: Through Thursday, the Tritons were 8-11 and 1-2 in the SSC. Shortstop Justin Loop had another good week, hitting .406 with 10 runs scored, 13 hits and 17 RBI in 32 at bats last week.
Loop was again second in Player of the Week balloting.
ECKERD SOFTBALL: After a dismal 2000 season, it was no surprise Eckerdwas predicted to finish last in the SSC.
But through Thursday the Tritons were holding on with a 5-4 record.
Meloney Sabo has been an offensive leader. Sabo hit .467 last week with seven hits in 15 at bats and four runs batted in.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Eckerd junior Glen Allsop was 1-0 in singles play and 3-0 in doubles in leading the Tritons to three wins.
Allsop, who is a native of Brisbane, Australia, won three of his singles and doubles matches over nationally ranked players.