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Boys Basketball

Memorable moments 2019-20: Taylor Teeden delivers in the clutch

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Plant City celebrating

The season was down to one shot. The chance to win a state title was condensed to five seconds. And there was Taylor Teeden waiting to make everything right.

Plant City tried every other manner of rescuing itself in a game on the verge of disaster. The Raiders made a furious rally, turning a nine-point deficit into a one-possession game in the final two minutes of regulation. They were out of options, at least ones that did not call for some desperation. 

Needing to go the length of the court, Ayden Perez threw a deep inbounds pass to Parker Hancock-Eitenoir, who immediately handed the ball to Teeden. 

After dribbling the ball enough to get within striking range, Teeden made sure he would not fail with the clock short and the scoreboard askew. The freshman heaved the ball, then watched as it bounced off the rim before falling through the net. 

The Raiders erupted, pandemonium reigned, and at the end of the court a blur of orange jerseys danced.

Teeden became Mr. Clutch, hitting  the game-winner as time expired to beat St. Cloud in the Unified Special Olympics state championship game. 

“I was zoned in,” Teeden said. “It felt good when I took that last shot. It’s something I’ve practiced. I was frozen, just standing there waiting for it to go in. I just wanted to do my part to help the team.”

The Unified Sports program joins people with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and without (Unified partners) who play together on the same team.

Teeden, the son of Plant City boys basketball Billy Teeden, wanted to be a partner to the Special Olympics athletes after watching them practice in the school’s gymnasium. Taylor shared sports stories. He built relationships. He became more compassionate. 

Taylor already knew about overcoming obstacles in the sport. When Taylor was four years old, he was diagnosed with a bicuspid valve and enlarged aorta, a heart condition that has two flaps on the valve instead of the typical three. Arnold Schwarzenegger was born with the same valve defect and opted to have surgery years later. 

Though Taylor never had an operation, his heart problems kept him from playing basketball on any school-related teams. Still, Taylor stayed active, serving as a coach for AAU and recreational programs. It was not until middle school when doctors cleared him to play.

As a freshman with the Raiders this past season, Taylor juggled his time with the junior varsity squad and the Unified Special Olympics team. His shooting touch helped Plant City advance to the championship game of the Unified tournament, held at Lakeland’s RP Funding Center the same week as the girls state tournament. 

And when the game was tight, when a comeback was needed, Taylor’s coaching acumen came through. 

“Those years of being on the bench as a coach paid off for Taylor, especially in the final five seconds,” Billy Teeden said. “That play, that shot, was executed perfectly, just as if he was a coach on the floor.”

Billy and his wife, Jeannette, were in the stands in Lakeland. They sat in disbelief after their son’s buzzer-beating shot. 

“It was just an amazing moment,” Billy said. 

Afterward, teammates hoisted Taylor on their shoulders, carrying him closer to the Raiders’ fans. Taylor held the trophy while everyone cheered. 

“It was incredible to be a part of that team,” Taylor said. “I loved every minute of it.”

This season, Taylor will be playing for his father on Plant City’s varsity team. As a varsity basketball, Taylor will no longer be able to play for the Unified team, per Florida High School Athletic Association rules. 

“I’ll still be at every practice trying to help out,” Taylor said. “I want to continue to be a role model for everyone on the team.” 

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Boys Basketball

Schedule for Kevin Durant National Hoopfest released

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The Kevin Durant National Hoopfest series will make its way to the Tampa Bay area on Jan. 28-29.

The tournament, now being held at St. Petersburg High, is the last of four stops that have already been announced.

What makes the event noteworthy is that it matches teams from the area against nationally-ranked teams from across the country, giving fans a chance to root on their local school as well as check out players who will be playing for major colleges and NBA teams in the future.

Here is the schedule, which was released this weekend.

Jan. 28

AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.) vs. Ischool of Lewisville (Texas), 5

IMG Academy vs. Oldsmar Christian, 6:30

St. Pete vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 8

Jan. 29

Windemere Prep vs. Wasatch Academy (Utah), 1

Orlando Christian Prep vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 2:30

Oldsmar Christian vs. Ischool of Lewisville (Texas), 4

Tampa Catholic vs. AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.), 5:30

IMG Academy vs. St. Petersburg, 7

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Boys Basketball

Dillon Mitchell transfers to Montverde Academy

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Dillon Mitchell, a four-star recruit who helped Bishop McLaughlin reach the state final for the first time this past season, has transferred to boys basketball powerhouse Montverde Academy. 

Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 senior small forward, made the announcement Thursday night on his Twitter account. 

In 2017, Montverde was named the nation’s top basketball program of the decade by USA Today. Several current NBA players went there, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and R.J. Barrett. Two more notable alumni, Oklahoma’s Cade Cunningham and and FSU’s Scottie Barnes, are expected to be among the top five picks in this year’s NBA draft. 

The ability to mold such high-profile stars prompted Mitchell to make the move. 

“They have developed great players to be successful at the next level,” Mitchell said of Montverde. “The competition is awesome,and being able to play against the best even at practice will help me become better. I believe it’s a great move.”

This is Mitchell’s third school in as many years. 

During the 2019-20 season, Mitchell played at Sickles, averaging 12.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game with the Gryphons.

He left this past season to attend Bishop McLaughlin, where he teamed with another four-star prospect, Emanuel Sharp, to form a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch. Mitchell (featured photo above by Willie Kelly) finished the season averaging 17.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while leading the Hurricanes to the Class 3A state final. 

Mitchell is rated fourth in the state and 29th nationally in the Class of 2022 by ESPN. He has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, FSU, Miami, Ohio State and Tennessee, among others.  . 

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Boys Basketball

FHSAA releases boys basketball class and district assignments

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The Florida High School Athletic Association released the classifications, districts and regions for boys basketball this coming season. The assignments are based on student enrollment numbers from October 2020. This is a one-year cycle that the FHSAA board of directors voted on. There likely will be a two-year cycle starting with the 2022-23 calendar year. The classifications and districts for the other sports will be released at a later date. Below is the list for area teams. For the full  boys basketball list click here.  

Class 7A, District 6

Alonso

East Lake

Palm Harbor University

Plant 

Sickles

Steinbrenner

Class 7A, District 7

Durant

Lakewood Ranch

Newsome

Plant City

Riverview

Class 6A, District 9

Gaither

Land O’ Lakes

Largo

Leto

Mitchell

Pinellas Park

Sunlake

Class 6A, District 10

Armwood

Hillsborough

Strawberry Crest

Tampa Bay Tech

Wharton

Wiregrass Ranch

Class 6A, District 11

Bloomingdale

Bradenton Manatee

Braden River

East Bay

Lennard

Palmetto

Sumner

Class 5A, District 5

Belleview

Citrus

Lake Weir

Lecanto

Leesburg

Ocala Vanguard

Springstead

Class 5A, District 6

Cypress Creek

Fivay

Gulf

Pasco, River Ridge

Wesley Chapel

Zephyrhills

Class 5A, District 8

Blake

Brandon

Freedom

Jefferson

Jesuit

King

Middleton

Robinson

Class 5A, District 9

Clearwater

Countryside

Hollins

Osceola

Seminole

Class 5A, District 10

Boca Ciega

Bradenton Bayshore

Bradenton Southeast

Northeast

St. Petersburg

Class 4A, District 9

Central

Crystal River

Hernando

Nature Coast

South Sumter

Weeki Wachee

Class 4A, District 10

Anclote

Chamberlain

Dunedin

Hudson

Tarpon Springs

Class 4A, District 11

Gibbs

Lakewood

Parrish

Sarasota Booker

Sebring

Wauchula Hardee

Class 3A, District 5

Bell Creek

Bishop McLaughlin

Brooks DeBartolo

Carrollwood Day

Seffner Christian

Tampa Catholic

Tampa Prep

Class 3A, District 6

Admiral Farragut

Berkeley Prep

Calvary Christian

Clearwater Central Catholic

Shorecrest

St. Petersburg Catholic

Class 2A, District 9

Academy at the Lakes

Classical Prep

Hernando Christian

Seven Rivers Christian

Zephyrhills Christian

Class 2A, District 10

Bayshore Christian

Brandon Academy

Cambridge Christian

Foundation Christian

Lakeside Christian

Universal Academy

Class 2A, District 11

Bradenton Christian

Bradenton Gulf Coast HEAT

Canterbury

Indian Rocks Christian

Keswick Christian

Port Charlotte Community Christian

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