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Boys Basketball

Tampa Prep’s Joe Fenlon closes in on 800 wins

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Coaching milestones happen seemingly on a weekly basis, especially this winter. One coach reaches 400 wins. Another surpasses the 600-win plateau. The list goes on. 

But the achievement Tampa Prep boys basketball coach Joe Fenlon is on the verge of reaching is hard to fathom. 

With two more victories, Fenlon will have 800 in his career. The countdown starts tonight when the Terrapins (9-7) take on Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic and will continue with three more games this week. 

It is a legacy that is not based entirely on longevity. 

To get an idea of just how hard it is to get to 800, consider that Fenlon has averaged more than 20 wins per season during his 38-year tenure with the program. 

He already has more wins in the state than any other boys basketball coach and can become the first with 800 wins in Florida. 

Ed Kershner, who retired from Oviedo following the 2016-17 season, is listed as the all-time wins leader at 901-377 in 45 seasons as a head coach, but that includes his early years in his native Indiana. Kershner came to Florida in 1980 and won 783 games in Florida at five schools: Kissimmee Osceola, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce Westwood and Oviedo in that order.

Kelly Beckham,  who has been at Gainesville since the 2008-09 season, is closing in on 800. He has more than  770 wins in a career that included early stops at Belle Glade Glades Day and Dunnellon and a long tenure at Bronson. He had more than 500 wins when he arrived at Gainesville.

Still, the major milestone has been met with little fanfare, unlike five years ago when the hallways at school were adorned with posters counting down the days until he reached 700. 

Part of that is due to COVID-19 safety protocols with students attending classes on campus for just two days and spending the rest of the week learning virtually. Games have limited seating capacity. 

“Or maybe nobody really cares anymore,” Fenlon, 59, quipped. 

His family certainly does and have been the ones to remind him that he is close. 

Fenlon started coaching the Terrapins in 1983. His first win came against now-defunct St. Petersburg Lutheran. 

Fenlon once thought about leaving to follow the same path as his brother, Bill, who has had his one longtime coaching career at DePauw University.

But Fenlon stayed. By doing so, he became an institution at Tampa Prep. He has coached big-time players such as Anddrikk Frazier (USF), Casey Sanders (Duke) and Juwan Durham, who is finishing his college career at Notre Dame.

But for every Division I player, countless others became doctors or lawyers. Many still go to games or keep in touch with their former coach.

Those players have helped Fenlon not only win games but titles. The Terrapins have made nine state semifinals and five finals. In 2012, Tampa Prep and Fenlon won the school’s only state title.

Fenlon’s imprint is on everything with the program. He even drove the bus to and from Lakeland during his team’s state title run eight years ago.

The sideline has been a family affair at times, too. Conner spent time as an assistant and is now a radio analyst for men’s basketball games at Siena. 

 “I never shot a ball, I never passed a ball, I never guarded anybody,” Fenlon said. “I’ve had a lot of great kids. This team that I have now is one of favorites, I really would like (to get 800) with them because it would give us a lot of positive momentum going forward.”

Winter milestones

Tampa Prep’s Joe Fenlon is not the only area coach to reach a big number in wins. Several other area basketball and soccer coaches have also hit milestones this season.

650 Carrollwood Day girls basketball coach Karim Nohra

600 Tampa Catholic boys basketball coach Don Dziagwa

400 St. Petersburg boys basketball coach Chris Blackwell

400 St. Petersburg girls soccer coach Rui Farias

400 Cambridge Christian boys soccer coach Kevin Hickinbotham

400 Northeast girls basketball coach Will White

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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