TAMPA — It had been quite the season for Jefferson, one riddled with injuries and suspensions of players and coach alike. So it seemed only fitting that the extenuation of the Dragons' season relied on one single, dramatic play.
With a district title and a playoff berth on the line in Monday’s game against Jesuit, strong defensive performances on both sides pushed the game to overtime. Jefferson struck first in extra time, and the Tigers soon responded. But instead of kicking the extra point and sending it to a second overtime, Jesuit elected to attempt the two-point conversion.
“We came from nothing. We thought we were going to lose, everybody thought we were going to lose,” defensive tackle Titi Almosse said about his team’s past turmoil. “But we needed a stop.”
And in that moment, that’s exactly what the Dragons got.
Jesuit handed the ball off to running back Vinny Losauro, who ran straight into a wall of Jefferson defenders. Seeing that he was going to get tackled, Losauro heaved a pass towards the end zone, but it was batted away, giving Jefferson a 17-16 overtime victory. The Dragon sideline erupted. …Full Story
BRADENTON — Host Manatee scored twice in the final 74 seconds of the first half, then held off Newsome, 35-28, in a Class 8A, District 6 battle on Monday.
With the victory, Manatee (5-2, 5-1) locked up second place in the district. More importantly, it likely secures a playoff berth for the Hurricanes. In the most recent rankings released last Tuesday, both Newsome and Manatee were in the projected playoff field for Region 2.
The loss does not elimminate Newsome (6-3, 4-2), which finishes third in the district, from the playoffs, but the Wolves now face a must-win season finale on Friday at Plant. Then they must wait to see what the final numbers are. Manatee finishes with a game at Venice on Friday.
Josh Booker accounted for most of the Manatee offense during that late first-half burst. He rushed for 86 yards on four carries in the two possessions, which combined lasted six plays. Booker finished with 14 carries and 125 yards (22-152 overall) and three touchdowns in the first half.
"He is an amazing back; that kid is a difference-maker and he showed it tonight," Newsome coach Ken Hiscock said. "He is a hoss and you try to hang on for dear life, and he is still breaking tackles." …Full Story
Will Vragovic | Times
Keswick Christian football coach Phil Hayford during practice at the school.
Keswick Christian coach Phil Hayford is now the all-time winningest coach in Pinellas County history. The Crusaders defeated Davenport Four Corners 33-6 Monday night for Hayford’s 197th career win. He surpassed Northeast coach Jerry Austin.
Hayford’s career record is 197-144.
RELATED: Wins record in reach for Phil Hayford after nearly four decades coaching
“There was some cheering from the players but it was pretty low key," Hayford said. “They know they can’t dump the ice cold water bucket on me. Might kill me. But it’s one of those things that I knew was going to come eventually."
Keswick Christian ends its season on Friday at home against Fort Myers Evangelical Christian at 7 p.m. The school plans to have a ceremony for Hayford prior to the game.Full Story
Photo courtesy of Dave Pisarcik
Nature Coast girls golf team, from left: Sklar Musicanese, Annabelle Bennett, Dawn Posey, Alexis Dross, Alexa Dono.
Nature Coast made school, and county, history when it qualified for the Class 2A state golf tournament for the second straight season. No girls golf team from Hernando county has won the regional tournament two straight seasons until the Sharks pulled it off last week.
They shot a team score of 377 at Meadow Oaks Golf Course in Hudson. The top player was senior Skylar Musicanese, who shot a 78. Right there with her was junior Alexis Dross, who shot an 82.
“The girls played really well in regionals,’’ Nature Coast coach Dave Pisarcik said. “They won by about 60 strokes (64). They’ve been so focused all season and really wanted to get back to states.’’
Last season, Nature Coast finished 12th of 16 teams. Four of the five players from last season return this year. Musicanese and Dawn Posey are the only two seniors.
Zephyrhills qualified for states as the second place team at the regional tournament.
Here is a look at the local field for the 2A tournament:
Class 2A girls state tournament
When/Where: Tuesday-Wednesday, Mission Inn and Resort, Howey-in-the-Hills …Full Story
JOEY KNIGHT | Times
Former Zephyhills High football coach Tom Fisher (center) is the winningest coach in program history.
Romp and circumstance prevailed Friday night at Zephyrhills' Bulldog Stadium.Full Story
Moments before the current team's 63-0 homecoming embarrassment of Hudson, dozens of former ZHS players and coaches gathered at midfield for a ceremony to formally name the field in honor of former Bulldogs coach Tom Fisher.
The winningest coach in program history (124-86), Fisher attended the event, and watched the unveiling of a "Tom Fisher Field" sign atop the south end zone scoreboard.
Fisher, who coached ZHS for 20 seasons (1989-2008), guided the Bulldogs to 13 winning seasons and two playoff triumphs. One of his players -- two-way tackle Ryan Pickett -- reached the NFL. Several others earned Division I scholarships including Brett Cimorelli (FSU), Bryan Thomas (Florida) and Booker Pickett (Miami).
Thomas is ZHS' defensive coordinator; current Bulldogs coach Nick Carroll also played for Fisher.
Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Oct. 22-Friday, Oct. 27. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.
Madison Hewlett, golf, East Lake: The freshman shot 6-under 66 in the Class 3A region tournament at Lansbrook Golf Club. Her round included a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole.
Sydney Hiner, volleyball, Land O’Lakes: The senior outside hitter had 14 kills and 21 digs in the Gators’ 3-1 Class 7A region quarterfinal win over King.
Bella Kirkpatrick, swimming, Academy of the Holy Names: The senior won the 100 back (1:2.24), the 100 fly (1:00.63) and swam legs on the 200 medley and 400 free relay teams that both finished first at the Class 2A, District 9 meet. …Full Story
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
Tampa Bay Heat senior libero Emma Westra (left) celebrates a winning point with middle hitter Abigail Casiano during a Class 3A regional semifinal Thursday night against visiting Orlando Faith Christian. The Heat ended up winning the match 25-20, 25-14, 25-22.
BRANDON — For three straight years the Tampa Bay HEAT volleyball team has reached the state semifinals, but has gotten no farther.
The HEAT, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3A by MaxPreps, looks ready to not only reach the state final, but to win it as well.
Case in point was Thursday night’s 3A region semifinal against Orlando Faith Christian, the state’s 11th-ranked team.
Despite a close start where Faith Christian kept popping up dig after dig after dig, the HEAT stayed cool, varied its attack and cruised to a 25-20, 25-14, 25-22 victory.
“That can get frustrating when every time you fire one down it comes back up,” coach Amanda Southard said. “I just told them that we’re going to get a lot of chances and to vary up where we hit it.”
Lots of credit goes to setter Allison Rogers, who began setting different teammates all over the court, including Madison Lee, Sydney Walsh, Abigail Casiano, Elizabeth Trueheart, Nicole Tierney, Avi Aragon and Emma Westra, all of whom collected at least one kill. …Full Story
TAMPA — Carrollwood Day aced its first test in the Class 4A region tournament. Literally.
The Patriots had 13 aces, including seven from Ally-Reese Williams, in a 25-12, 25-14, 25-16 sweep of Oviedo Master’s Academy in the region semifinals Thursday night. Carrollwood Day (23-2) will host Shorecrest on Thursday in the region final. That will be a rematch of the district final, which the Patriots won 3-1.
“That was the best match we played all year," coach Eric Praetorius said. “That’s a really good team. We blocked so well. We put Haley (Brown) in the front row and she put hands on the ball. And we served so well."
In the beginning it looked as if the team’s were evenly matched. The score was tied at 7 in the first game and both teams displayed good net play. Then the Patriots rattled off four straight points and seven of eight.
With the score 13-9, Williams served three straight aces. In a six-point run that made the score 20-9, Williams had five aces. That pretty much did it for the first game.
“The serve was really working today," Williams said. “Once you get an ace your confidence goes up from there." …Full Story
LITHIA — Newsome avoided the dreaded trap game Wednesday night, beating Alonso, 34-17, in Class 8A, District 6. With the victory, Newsome (6-2, 4-1) moved into a tie with Manatee for second place in the district behind Sarasota Riverview. Newsome is scheduled to play at Manatee on Monday in a game rescheduled from September. That rescheduled game prompted Newsome to move its game against Alonso up two days for a rare midweek start. Newsome likely will need to beat Manatee to have a shot at a playoff berth under the new points system.
The short preparation time showed.
Alonso senior quarterback Gavin Denboer shredded the Newsome secondary for 236 yards passing in the first half, helping Alonso (3-5, 2-4) take a 14-13 lead into halftime. A pair of 40-yard scoring strikes to Sidney Surmons and Cyle Kurina accounted for the scores. Newsome took the lead on its first possession of the second half. …Full Story
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
St. Petersburg libero Jill Kilgroe (right) celebrates after winning a crucial point during a 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 Class 8A regional quarterfinal victory Wednesday night over Bloomingdale.
VALRICO — For the first time in the 21st century, St. Petersburg has won a region volleyball match.
It happened Wednesday night at Bloomingdale High with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 victory over the host Bulls.
“We talked a lot to the girls about making some history,” St. Petersburg coach Todd Maxwell said. “Tonight we finally did it. This team is young (starting three freshmen) but we did not play like a young team tonight. We stepped up when we needed to.”
Perhaps none more so than in the first set when the Green Devils trailed 22-20.
That’s when sophomore Tiffany Griffith came up with two aces and sophomore Julia Gilby smacked down a sizzling kill and junior libber Jill Kilgroe made a diving dig and the next thing you know, St. Pete grabbed the lead and then the Bulls made a mistake and …
“We won (the first set), which was huge,” Maxwell said. “Tonight I really thought that whoever won that (first set) would gain a huge advantage. Our team rides waves like that. We get up and we can make a long run.” …Full Story
PALM HARBOR – After a 40-minute delay due to a late bus, host Palm Harbor University wasted no time in defeating Durant 25-11, 25-7, 25-9 Wednesday night in the Class 8A region quarterfinals. PHU (17-4) will host St. Petersburg on Wednesday. It will be the third meeting this season between the teams. The Hurricanes have won the previous two matches by sweeps.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,’’ PHU coach Dexter Rogers said. “You never know. But we played pretty well. There’s still some things to clean up.’’
The Hurricanes have advanced to the region final the previous two seasons. They have never made it to the state semifinals. In 2015, PHU lost to Venice in the region final. Last season it was a loss to Manatee in the region final. Venice and Manatee play each other again next week.
If PHU plays the way it did against Durant, a third region final is likely. In all three games the Hurricanes jumped to big leads and never looked back. The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the first game, but that was their only lead in any of the three games. …Full Story
HUDSON — After dropping the opening set to Nature Coast in the Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinals, Fivay coach Nicole Pollock knew her girls weren’t playing at the top of their level.
It took one set for her Falcons to realize it was playoff time. Fivay reeled off three set wins in a row to defeat Nature Coast 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19 Wednesday night. The Falcons will meet Weeki Wachee, which defeated Hudson, in the region semifinals.
“We were just struggling tonight,” Pollock said. “It wasn’t our cleanest volleyball. Passing is something we really have pride in ourselves as a team and that just wasn’t there tonight.”
The Sharks (12-6) were making their first postseason appearance since 2011 and looked to be on the upset bid after coming away with the opening-set win. Fivay (23-3) went up 20-13 in the second set and nearly let Nature Coast climb back in before putting them away 25-22.
Fivay senior Kirbea Harrell (15 kills) was more active than usual. She was clutch down the stretch and notched three aces in the final set. Fellow senior Lindsey Christianson had eight kills on the evening. …Full Story
TAMPA — Girls on the Land O'Lakes volleyball team weren't born yet when the Gators last had a win this big.
Second-year coach Ike Klauka couldn't have been any happier Wednesday night after Land O'Lakes stunned King 15-25, 25-22, 25-9, 25-12 in a Class 7A region quarterfinal.
"It's huge for our program,'' Klauka said. "It's the first time we've advanced to regional in 10 years, and somebody told me we haven't been in the (second) round of regionals in 20 years. It's probably the biggest win in our program (during that time).''
Land O'Lakes (18-9) started quickly by scoring 12 of the match's first 18 points. But a 10-0 run by King (24-2) ensued, and the Lions rolled to a first-game win.
After that, the Gators picked up the pace, and the Lions committed numerous unforced errors.
"We served excellent the first game, and we were running (Land O'Lakes) all over the court,'' King coach Brian Gonzales said. "In the second (game), we started throwing the ball into the net. I didn't understand what was going on there.'' …Full Story
TRINITY — Already without two of their top hitters, one having ACL surgery as their match began, the Mitchell Mustangs had an unexpected key member find her way into a hospital when region play began Wednesday.
But this circumstance, and the Class 7A, Region 2 quarterfinal against Brandon, was a completely happy occasion for Mitchell. With head coach Heidi Michaels starting the night celebrating daughter Brittany's first child, the Mustangs enjoyed a lopsided 25-5, 25-13, 25-14 home win over Brandon High.
Mitchell (21-8) will host rival Land O'Lakes next Wednesday in the region semifinals. The Mustangs, a prime state title contender until kills leader Morgin Tew and Mariella "Pupa" Haimes (fourth in kills, tops in digs) were injured, still looked pretty darned good Wednesday.
"Those are a some pretty big holes to fill," said 6-foot junior Kennedy Deluca, who did her part Wednesday with six kills and three blocks.
Mallory Coleman, who was averaging 1.1 kills per set, ended with seven to go with four aces. And naturally senior Jessie Mooney was on point with 15 kills and seven digs. …Full Story
WEEKI WACHEE – Hudson, making its first postseason appearance since 2010, is one of the most storied volleyball programs on the North Suncoast. The problem is that the Cobras ran into the new local powerhouse, Weeki Wachee, making its fifth consecutive trip to the state playoffs.
Hudson, who has been to this round 17 times, was dismissed in straight sets by the Hornets (25-21, 25-21, 25-21) in Wednesday night’s Class 6A region quarterfinal.
“The girls finally are realizing and understanding that every year is a different team,” Weeki Wachee coach Kelly Werkmeister said, “and this is their team.”
Weeki Wachee (15-12) took advantage of some nerves on the other side of the net in the first set. Hudson (10-9) had four of their seven service errors in the opening game, and the Hornets were opportunistic behind the serving of Amberlyn Werkmeister and the front-line play of Brooke Sereda.
Werkmeister, who came into the match leading the team in aces, record two of her three on Wednesday in the first set. Sereda had seven of her match-high 16 kills in that set as well. …Full Story