Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Magley heading to Tulsa

Bradenton Christian alum D.J. Magley is taking his college game to the University of Tulsa, according to a story on
A center, Magley is transferring to the Golden Hurricane program from Western Kentucky and will sit out the 2009-10 season, the story said.
During his freshman season at Western Kentucky, the 6-foot-9 Magley made 33 starts and averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in helping the Hilltoppers reach the Sweet 16.
But Magley's role diminished under new coach Ken McDonald - the former Panther started just once and averaged 10.9 minutes in 34 games. The Hilltoppers lost to Gonzaga in the second round of this year's NCAA tournament.
Magley was one of three players to leave WKU in April.
"He played for a great man his first year who treated the kids with respect, and they went to the Sweet 16," D.J.'s father, David, told The Bradenton Herald in April. "They went to the round of 32 this year because they had to use big men. He came up big in big games. You don't begrudge a coach for winning, but he needs more touches. It wasn't a good fit for him."
Tulsa went 25-11 last season, reaching the second round of the NIT, and 12-4 in Conference USA, falling to Memphis in the championship game.
Magley left BCS as the program's all-time leader in scoring, rebounds, assists and blocks. He helped the Panthers to a pair of district titles, four regional championship games and two Class 1A final fours.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Picking of An All-Area Team

The publication of the All-Area teams always brings on the inevitable question:
How is the team picked?
Well, one of the reasons I wanted a blog was to explain something like this. Blogs aren't constricted by time or space. There is no deadline. And there are no rules. So let me unveil what goes on when picking an All-Area team.
Keep in mind - this is how I pick an All-Area team. I am not speaking for other writers. There are no hard and fast rules for throwing these teams together, so what works for me may not work for others, and vice versa. But this is how I do it.
I get stats from the coaches. Then I step back, pick a player of the year and a team.
There ya go. That's how we do it. No equations or formulas. No votes. We keep the coaches' input in mind, but ultiamtely, the decision rests with the writer picking the team.
When picking the player of the year, stats play a pivotal role. But it's not everyting. I often take a team's schedule into account, as well as how the player did against area teams. And if the player just so happens to be on the team that went the furthest, I ask myself if the team would have gone that far without that player.
Keep in mind - the player of the year doesn't always come from the best team. There was a girls basketball team that won a state championship while I was working for a paper in Pennsylvania, and we picked a player for another team. The state championship team, as good as it was, didn't have a standout player. So like I said, this is a formula-free process.
The hardest part of picking a team in this area, however, is we have nearly a dozen teams spread out over five classifications. Do we punish the kids who play for small schools? No. But at the same time, should we measure a player who faces Class 5A or 6A competition against someone who sees Class 1A and 2A teams?
So yes, stats from a Class 5A player are weighed against those from 1A and 2A schools. Face it - the competition at the higher level is tougher. That's not to say there isn't any talent at the lower levels. If there wasn't, there wouldn't be any Class 1A or 2A players on our teams, or wouldn't earn Player of the Year status, which as has happened quite frequently.
So that's how it's done. That's how the team is picked. We do our best to be fair, all the while knowing everybody won't be pleased. But keep this in mind - there are no biases. We don't play favorites. We put the most deserving players on the team, and go from there.
Will everybody agree?
But let's be honest. That's part of the fun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring football pairings

Let the games begin.

Here are the area matchups for the annual spring football games:

Thursday, May 21
Southeast at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 22
Sarasota at Bayshore, 7 p.m.; Bradenton Christian at St. Petersburg, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 23
Bradenton Prep at Ocala jamboree.

Thursday, May 28
Braden River at Riverview, 7:30 p.m.; Palmetto at St. Petersburg Northeast, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 29
Largo at Manatee, 7 p.m.; Cape Coral Island Coast at Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 30
Saint Stephen’s vs. Lakeland Victory Christian at Bryant Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kinnan challenging Canes

When it came time to schedule a game for the spring and another for the Kickoff Classic, Manatee coach Joe Kinnan went looking for quality opponents.
He sure found them.
Manatee hosts Largo this month and heads to Tampa Plant for the Kickoff Classic in August.
Largo has made consecutive trips to the Class 5A final four. And Tampa Plant, now competing in Class 5A, won the Class 4A state title last year.
Manatee's quarterback, Brion Carnes, is set to enter his fourth season as a varsity starter. And the Canes return three offensive linemen from last year's squad, which went 7-3 but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
"We thought we'd throw a challenge at them right away," Kinnan said.
Largo went 12-2 last year and recorded four shutouts en route to winning its second regional championship.
Plant, which was ranked among the top 50 football teams in the country, was 14-1 but got a scare from Southeast in the Class 4A-Region 3 semifinals, which Plant won 13-7.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Big turnout at Palmetto

Making consecutive playoff appearances, winning a district title and a playoff game, as well as sending three players to top-tier Division I schools, pays dividends.
Just ask Palmetto football coach Raymond Woodie, who had 100 kids report to practice this spring.
"It's no special formula - it's just the process of doing it the right way," Woodie said. "These kids are excited."
Palmetto has made the playoffs the last two years and clinched the program's first district title in nearly a decade last fall. The Tigers won 17 games combined in 2007-08, and have sent Joe Hills (South Carolina), Damian Copeland (Louisville) and Kedric Johnson (Florida) to Division I schools since '06.
And Division I scouts are coming back to Palmetto this year to get a look at guys such as Donald Campbell, Ty Scott and Brandon Tarpley. A scout from North Carolina was in attendance Tuesday.
"You have to have structure, and that's in anything you do," Woodie said. "Structure includes modeling the behavior and discipline, and that's what I told these coaches you have to do."
Palmetto, which heads to St. Petersburg Northeast on May 28 for its spring game, will move up to Class 4A-District 11 after competing in 3A.
Joining the Tigers in their district will be Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda Charlotte and Lakewood Ranch.

Regional baseball pairings

Cardinal Mooney and Out-of-Door Academy have advanced to baseball's regional championship series.
Both series begin Friday.
Listed below are the matchups:
Class 3A-Region 3
Fort Pierce John Carroll vs. Cardinal Mooney at Twin Lakes Park, 4 p.m. Game 2 is scheduled to begin 60 minutes after the completion of Game 1.
Game 3 - 1 p.m. Saturday (if necessary).
Class 1A-Region 3
Tampa Cambridge at Out-of-Door Academy, 1 p.m. Game 2 is scheduled to begin 60 minutes after the completion of Game 1.
Game 3 - 1 p.m. Saturday (if necessary).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tigers take second

Palmetto's girls 400 relay team of Alexis Love, Kymbrell Smith, Trijala Kelly, and Brandy Gordon took second at the Class 3A state track and field championships in Winter Park today. They had a time of 47.82.
Pine Forest won with a time of 46.96.
It was the second medal of the day for Love, who was seventh in the 100. She is also competing in the 200.

Two more county medals

Lakewood Ranch's James Fulmer capped his prep track career in fine fashion Friday the Class 3A state track and field championships at Showalter Field in Winter Park.
The senior placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.57.
Palmetto's Alexis Love earned a medal - awarded to the top eight in each event - by placing seventh in the 100 dash (12.22).
Love, a senior who is on her way to Murray State on a track scholarship, has two races left. She qualified in the 200 and is the anchor on Palmetto's 400 relay team.

Sanders medals at 3A meet

Manatee High junior Ace Sanders placed eighth in the long jump during today's Class 3A state track and field championships at Showalter Field in Winter Park.
Sanders' jump of 21 feet, 4 inches, earned him a medal, awarded to the top eight finishers in each event.
Sanders' teammate, Brion Carnes, was 15th in the discus with a throw of 117 feet.
On the girls side, Lakewood Ranch's Shanavia Jones was 12th in the high jump (five feet), and the the Mustangs' 3,200-meter relay team of Kelsey Gramaldi, Tracy Spronatti, Devon McDermott and Megan Reuss was 12th (10:00.51).

The preliminaries just wrapped here in Showalter Field with the finals scheduled for 7 p.m.

Stay tuned to Prep Rally for up-to-the minute results.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Area alums make good

Four area baseball players now at Manatee Community College were named to the Suncoast Conference's all-conference baseball team.
Lakewood Ranch's Gus Schlosser was named the conference's pitcher of the year and player of the year, and fellow former Mustang Jonathan Griffin made the first team as an infielder.
Cardinal Mooney graduate and Bradenton resident Hunter Ovens (outfield) and Manatee alum Derek Luciano (infield) earned second-team honors.
The Lancers open the JUCO state baseball tournament 7 p.m. Friday at Chain of Lakes Park against Chipola.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine flu forces FHSAA to schedule make-up meet

Athletes not permitted to compete in this weekend’s Class 3A and 4A state track and field championships because of fear of swine flu will be allowed to participate later.
The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Monday a make-up meet has been scheduled for Saturday, May 16 at Showalter Field in Winter Park. The news comes after the Hillsborough County School district closed Tampa Freedom High, as well as two middle schools, because students in those schools are included in the county’s five suspected cases of swine flu. None of those cases have been confirmed, according to The Associated Press.
Athletes competing in the make-up meet will be going against times and distances set during this weekend’s meets. The Class 3A is scheduled for Friday and the Class 4A champions are slated for Saturday.
They will take place at Showalter Field, as well.
Schools that are closed are not permitted to take part in FHSAA state series events, said Cristina Alvarez, the association’s director of media relations and marketing. That goes from track and field, as well as softball and baseball, which are also in the midst of their state tournaments.

Jensen's peronifies the best of Manatee County's prep atheletes.

I had a chance to speak with Austin Jensen on Monday during Manatee's spring football practice. Set to enter his junior season at Florida Atlantic, Jensen returned to his old stomping grounds to sneak a peak at the Hurricanes, who are two practices into the spring football season.
Jensen, who is wearing a cast after injuring his wrist during FAU's spring game, was always one of my favorite prep athletes, and not just because he was a dynamo between the hashmarks. He's a good a kid who is evolving into a good person, and our chat today only reaffirmed that fact.
Jensen would love to play his way into the NFL. And who wouldn't? But first, he wants to get his education, which is his top priority.
A kid putting education in front of athletics? It was nice to hear. And in my dealings with Jensen, he always came across as very sincere. He wouldn't say if it he didn't mean it.
Jensen is a good ambassador for Manatee County sports, and he's far from the only one. I have had the pleasure of talking to many great kids in my three-plus years covering high school sports down here, whether they were football players, sprinters or softball players.
They are enough to make a cynical guy like me feel a tad optimistic about the future. Hopefully, the up-and-comers follow their lead.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bennett a permament part of county tradition

Robby Bennett is a state champion.
A senior at Bradenton Christian, Bennett won the 110-meter hurdles during Friday's Class 1A state track and field championships at Showalter Field in Winter Park.
Manatee County, as well as BCS, has crowned its share of state champions in a plethora of sports. Bennett's case, however, is special.
He missed out on a state berth last year when he tripped while competing at the Region 3 meet. Bennett was third at the time. Top four in each event qualify for state.
So consider 2009 his redemption. And now, when you walk into Bradenton Christian's cozy gymnasium, you'll see Bennett's name on the wall, tacked alongside state champions of the past, as well as the future.
It's a testament to Bennett's fortitude, as well as the depth of athletic talent coursing through Manatee County. Yes, football here is king, and when you think tradition, you think about Manatee's four state football titles, Southeast's two state football titles and Palmetto's state football title in 1975 that went ahead and started it all.
But consider this - spring isn't over, and we've crowned a state track champion and a state weightlifting champion (Braden River's Tevin Bryant.) Let's not forget Friday's Class 3A meet featuring Palmetto's Alexis Love, fresh off winning three events at Thursday's Region 3 meet in Punta Gorda.
Love wants to be a state champion before taking her speed to Murray State University on a track scholarship.
Bennett is a state champion.
He wasn't Manatee County's first.
And he sure won't be its last.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Regional baseball pairings

Manatee High's softball team bowed out of the regional semifinals Friday, leaving baseball as the lone team sport remaining in the 2008-09 prep season.
Braden River, Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen's won district championships and will open regional play Tuesday. That same day, runners-up Cardinal Mooney, Manatee HEAT and Manatee will hit the road.
Here are the regional pairings.
Class 5A-Region 3 - Manatee at Seminole Osceola, 7 p.m.
Class 4A-Region 3 - Lake Wales at Braden River, 7 p.m.
Class 3A-Region 3 - Cardinal Mooney at Tampa Catholic, 4 p.m.
Class 2A-Region 3 - Naples St. John Neumann at Saint Stephen's, 4 p.m.
Class 1A-Region 3 - Oldsmar Christian at Out-of-Door Academy, 4 p.m.; Manatee HEAT at St. Petersburg Canterbury, 5 p.m.

Winners advance to Friday's regional semifinal. The other teams head home for good.

Falcons soar

Coaches and programs never priortitize championships, because each one is its own accomplishment, and each championship team had to overcome its own share of obstacles and challenges.
Chances are, however, Rob Viera and the rest of Saint Stephen's baseball coaches won't forget the 2009 title any time soon. Viera steered the Falcons to the Class 2A-District 12 title Thursday when they defeated St. Petersburg Northside Christian.
It's the Falcons' six district title and fourth since 2003 - but a special won for Viera, who took over the program from longtime coach Mike LaValliere.
The Falcons host a regional quarterfinal Tuesday.