Florida high school basketball has wrapped up, and while no teams from The Laker/Lutz News coverage area won a state title, several boys and girls squads nonetheless achieved impressive performances during the 2017-2018 season.
Here’s a look back at some of the teams and players who stood out:
Carrollwood Day School Patriots (Class 4A)
Record: 24-4 overall, 8-1 district 4-4A
Four more points — that’s how much Carrollwood Day School needed to clinch a win to reach the Class 4A Final Four.
The Patriots lost to Oviedo Master’s Academy 71-68 in the region finals on Feb. 27.
Yet nothing should be taken away from first-year coach Teddy Owens, a former assistant at the University of Nebraska.
Owens tripled the Patriots’ win total from the prior year — the team went 8-12 during the 2016-2017 season — and steered the program to its first winning season since 2012.
A bevy of talent helped, too.
The Patriots had one of the Tampa Bay area’s most electrifying players in 6-foot-1 junior guard Malcolm Whitlow, who averaged a whopping 32 points, seven assists and nine rebounds per game, and set a school-record 47 points during a game against Durant High in January. The program also received major contributions from 6-foot-3 guard Edgar Ziegler (17.5 points, 4.6 rebounds) and 6-foot-8 senior center Owen Mixon (10.9 points, 10.5 rebounds).
Keystone Prep Knights (Class 2A)
Record: 20-10 overall, 10-3 district 4-2A
It was a year of firsts for Keystone Prep.
The Odessa-based school celebrated its first 20-win season, first district tournament win, first district championship, first playoff win and first region final appearance — and was just one win away from the Class 2A state semifinals.
It was an utter turnaround from last season, when the Knights won just four games.
Keystone Prep was particularly dominant throughout district play, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 36 points.
The team was led by a trio of seniors in Myikel Wilson (19.6 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 5.7 steals), Ryan Sanders (14.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals) and Jairen Embry (10.4 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 steals).
Despite losing a strong senior class, the Knights may to be in good shape next season should they return juniors James Pursley (14 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks), Jalon Pittman (11.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks) and Mario Lovett (8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds).
It also helps that the program has a young, up-and-coming coach in Matt Grossenbach. An alumnus of Academy at the Lakes, Grossenbach was that school’s first player — male or female — to score more than 1,000 career points (1,189). He later served as an assistant coach at the Academy before taking the Keystone Prep gig.
Wharton High Wildcats (Class 8A)
Record: 23-6 overall, 11-3 district 8-8A)
Under longtime head coach Tommy Tonelli, Wharton High once again showed itself as one of Tampa Bay’s most consistent hoops programs, by surpassing the 20-win mark for the ninth straight season.
They did so in exciting fashion, too.
In addition to a nail-biting 51-50 victory over Bartow High in the Class 8A region quarterfinal, Wharton finally downed crosstown rival Plant High to capture its first district crown since 2014. The Wildcats lost to Plant twice earlier in the season before getting revenge a third time around.
The Wildcats next season will be without three players who are 6-foot-4 or taller in
team captains Ryan Anders and DJ Henderson, and Nate Barnes.
However, the team will return top player and Division I prospect Darin Green Jr., a 6-foot-4 junior shooting guard, who claims scholarship offers from a handful of mid-majors, including Cal State-Fullerton, Florida Gulf Coast and Rider universities.
Other notable boys teams:
- Land O’ Lakes High Gators (18-8 overall, 4-2 district 8-7A)
- Wiregrass Ranch High Bulls (17-9 overall, district 8-8A)
- Wesley Chapel High Wildcats (16-11 overall, 10-6 district 8-6A)
- Zephyrhills High Bulldogs (20-9 overall, 14-4 district 8-6A)
Other notable boys players:
- Elijah Howell, junior, Wiregrass Ranch: 12.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.7 SPG
- Mekhi Perry, sophomore, Land O’ Lakes: 17 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG
- Isaiah Ramsey, sophomore, Wesley Chapel: 18.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG
- Angelo Sardegna, junior, Steinbrenner: 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 SPG
- Roney Webster, senior, Pasco: 18.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG
- Jamaal Wright, junior, Sunlake: 15.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Carrollwood Day School Patriots (Class 4A)
Record: 28-4 overall, 8-1 district 4-4A
After a resounding 32-point victory over Gainesville P.K. Yonge in the Class 4A state semifinals, it appeared as though Carrollwood Day School was well on its way to a state championship. Alas, the Patriots run fell just short after losing to Miami Country Day — with that team claiming its fifth straight state title.
Even so, the Patriots are no flash in the pan.
Its entire roster is comprised of six sophomores, two eighth-graders, a junior and a freshman. Four of those players — each a sophomore— averaged double figures in scoring: Tarriyonna Gary (15 points), Tiasia McMillan (14 points), Nabaweeyah McGill (12.6 points) and Cairah Mays (10.1 points).
Additionally, the team is coached by Karim Nohra, one of the most successful girls basketball coaches in Tampa. The Patriots also won 28 games last year — Nohra’s first with the program after leaving Academy at the Lakes.
Sunlake High Seahawks (Class 7A)
Record: 20-8 overall, 6-1 district 8-7A
Buoyed be a senior-laden group of contributors, Sunlake won 20 games for the first time in school history, captured its third straight district title, and fell just one win shy of reaching the Class 7A Final Four. They also earned a four-game sweep of district rival Mitchell High.
Its ability to force turnovers proved troubling for opposing offenses all season long. The Seahawks allowed just 39 points per game and gave up 50 or more points in just five contests.
Like last season — when the team won 18 games — the Seahawks were carried primarily by the same four players: 6-foot-1 forward and double-double machine Andrea Wallace (13.3 points, 10.6 rebounds) and guards Kasia Ramirez, Mary Moran and Elizabeth Moran. All seniors, finding capable replacements will be a must for the team to have a fourth straight winning season in 2019.
Wiregrass Ranch High Bulls (Class 8A)
Record: 20-9, 11-3 district 8-8A)
Wiregrass Ranch celebrated yet another 20-win season— it’s fifth straight and sixth in the last seven years under head coach John Gant. No small task as the Bulls play in a tough district that also features Plant, Steinbrenner and Freedom high schools. More striking, perhaps, is the Bulls’ extremely young roster. Outside of senior guard Alexis Bolden (10.8 points), the 2018 team was composed entirely of freshman and sophomores. That means Wiregrass should be exciting to watch for the next several years, thanks in part to the freshman duo of 6-foot-2 forward Zoi Evans (11.6 points, 11.4 rebounds) and 5-foot-7 guard Alexis Couzens (9.9 points, 4 rebounds).
Other notable girls teams:
- Steinbrenner High (15-10 overall, 10-4 district 8-8A)
Other notable girls players:
- Kiara Broner, senior, Pasco: 14.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.6 SPG
- Valeria Burbano, senior, Wesley Chapel: 9.9 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 5.2 SPG
- Regina Henry, senior, Wharton: 8.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.0 SPG
- Isabella Prada, freshman, Bishop McLaughlin: 16 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3 RPG, 4 SPG
- Ashauna Jones, freshman, Zephyrhills Christian Academy: 10.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.1 SPG
- Lexi Kilfoyl, junior, Academy at the Lakes: 11 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 5 BPG
–Stats compiled using MaxPreps.com—
Published March 14, 2018