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Hey! We recognize that team!

East Lake coach Terry Small wanted to face unfamiliar teams at the Lake Gibson Invitational. But it wasn't to be.

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000


When East Lake coach Terry Small was looking for a tournament earlier this year, he said he wanted one that was out of town so his players could see different competition.

What Small found was the Lake Gibson Invitational, a 16-team tournament in Lakeland that starts Friday and ends Saturday.

What Small didn't find was different competition.

Eight teams from Pinellas County are participating.

"I was the first one from the county to sign up for this one," said Small, who canceled his own tournament he had the past two seasons in order to add this one. "Apparently, everyone else from here had the same idea. Oh well. I guess I should have kept my own tournament."

Much like the now defunct East Lake Invitational Small hosted, the Lake Gibson Invitational comes a week before district competition. It also is a tournament that means different things to different county teams.

For Clearwater and Palm Harbor University, which were stunned with losses Tuesday, it means there's a chance to get back on track.

For East Lake and Clearwater Central Catholic, which have young teams, it means there's a chance to gain some experience.

For Pinellas Park and Dunedin, which have losing records, it means a chance for a late-season turnaround.

For Lakewood and St. Petersburg Catholic, which have been winning lately, it means a chance for continued success.

While the Pinellas County contingent is strong -- Clearwater is ranked No. 1 in 4A and PHU, St. Petersburg Catholic and CCC have been ranked this season -- the rest of the field is not. Only one other team, Auburndale, is ranked in the state poll (No. 8 in 4A).

The Bloodhounds are East Lake's first opponent Friday, giving Small the type of competition he was seeking.

"That's a tough test for us, especially since we're young," Small said. "But that's good. Once you get to districts and the post-season, that's all you'll see -- tough competition."

EAGLES EARN TOP SEED: East Lake clinched the No. 1 seed in Class 5A, District 9 with a 15-11, 15-13 over host Ridgewood on Wednesday.

The Eagles (14-6 overall, 6-2 in 5A-9), had the opportunity for the top spot after Palm Harbor University stumbled with losses to Ridgewood and River Ridge on Tuesday.

Led by Carla Tagarelli, who served the first six points, East Lake never trailed in the first game against Ridgewood and held on to win. In the second game, the Eagles rallied from a 12-6 deficit as backup setter Kelly Millard provided the passes and Tammy Zimmerman provided the serves.

Lake Gibson Invitational

WHEN: Friday and Saturday.

WHERE: Pools A and B -- Lake Gibson High School, 7007 North Socrum Loop Road, Lakeland; Pools C and D -- Lakeland High School, 726 Hollingsworth Road, Lakeland.

TEAMS: Auburndale, Bartow, Clearwater, Clearwater Central Catholic, Dunedin, East Lake, Lake Gibson, Lakeland, Lakewood, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Port Charlotte, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic, Wharton, Winter Haven All-Saints Academy.

SCHEDULE

Friday: Pool A/Court 1 -- Auburndale vs. East Lake, 4; St. Petersburg Catholic vs. Pinellas Park, 5:15; Auburndale vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, 6:30; East Lake vs. Pinellas Park, 7:45; Auburndale vs. Pinellas Park, 9. Pool B/Court 2 -- Lake Gibson vs. Port Charlotte, 4; Dunedin vs. Tampa Catholic, 5:15; Lake Gibson vs. Dunedin, 6:30; Port Charlotte vs. Tampa Catholic, 7:45; Lake Gibson vs. Tampa Catholic, 9. Pool C/Court 1 -- Lakeland vs. Palm Harbor U, 4; Lakeland vs. All Saints, 5:15; Lakeland vs. Lakewood, 6:30; Palm Harbor U vs. All Saints, 7:45; Lakeland vs. All Saints, 9. Pool D/Court 2 -- Bartow vs. Wharton, 4; CC Catholic vs. Clearwater, 5:15; Bartow vs. CC Catholic, 6:30; Wharton vs. Clearwater, 7:45; Bartow vs. Clearwater, 9.

Saturday: Pool A/Court 1 -- East Lake vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, 8:30 a.m.; semifinal matches, 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.; consolation match, 1:30; championship, 2:45. Pool B/Court 2 -- Port Charlotte vs. Dunedin, 8:30 a.m., semifinal matches, 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.; consolation match, 1:30; fifth place match, 2:45. Pool C/Court 1 -- Palm Harbor U vs. Lakewood, 8:30 a.m.; semifinal matches, 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.; consolation match, 1:30; ninth place match, 2:45. Pool D/Court 2 -- Wharton vs. CC Catholic, 8:30 a.m.; semifinal matches, 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.; consolation match, 1:30, 11th place match, 2:45.

-- Compiled by Bob Putnam.

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