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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

Former St. Petersburg star Serrel Smith Jr. commits to USF

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For years, the USF men’s basketball program has tried to land a prized prospect from the bay area, extending offers to local stars such as Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox and Thomas Dziagwa, Tampa Prep’s Juwan Durham and St. Petersburg’s Serrel Smith Jr..

All went elsewhere.

On Friday, one of those standouts decided to give the Bulls a chance. 

Smith Jr., who played two seasons at Maryland before transferring to East Tennessee State, announced on his Twitter page that he was committing USF.

The move comes exactly two weeks after Smith Jr. entered the transfer portal. This is Smith Jr.’s third school in as many seasons. Still, the latest stop gives the Bulls a homegrown star, something that has eluded the program for years. 

Only three other locals — Hudson’s Mark Calleja, Seminole’s Henry Beard and Oldsmar Christian’s Troy Holston, have made the USF roster in the past five seasons. Calleja and Beard were walk-ons. 

Smith Jr. was a coveted recruit who continued to receive interest from the Bulls a year ago when he transferred to East Tennessee State. 

“The way the transfer portal is now, players are constantly coming and going,” Green Devils coach Chris Blackwell Jr. said. “Their journeys are always evolving but eventually they end up playing where they should have been all along.

“I’m happy for Serrel. He’s back home, and it should be a good situation for him.”

During his two seasons at Maryland, Smith Jr. played sparingly, averaging 10 minutes and 2.6 points per game. Last season, Smith Jr. averaged seven points and 2.3 rebounds per game at East Tennessee State.   

He was a star throughout his high school career at St. Petersburg. As a senior, Smith Jr. was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 8A state player of the year after averaging 29. 3 points per game and helping the Green Devils reach the state semifinals for the third time in his four seasons with the program. 

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Boys Basketball

Tony Livingston transfers to King

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Tony Livingston, a two-sport star who committed to Florida earlier this month, has transferred from Carrollwood Day to King. 

The rising senior will play football and basketball for the Lions. 

“We’re happy to have him for his last year,” said King basketball coach Chris Senoga-Zake, who previously coached at Carrollwood Day. “He’s grown a lot from the time I had him as a freshman and has been working hard this off season. I’m hoping we can change the culture at King and give him the opportunity to showcase his true talent on the court.”

Three weeks ago, Livingston became the first area player in the 2022 class to commit to the Gators. . 

Livingston (featured photo above courtesy of JJ Battle/Battle Tested Photography) is a 6-foot-6, 250 pound offensive tackle who is athletic enough to play tight end, too. The four-star recruit is rated as the 18th-best player in the state and 19-best offensive tackle in the nation in the 2022 class according to 247 Sports’ composite list.

Though Livingston’s primary sport is football, he also played a key role in helping Carrollwood Day’s basketball team win a district title and reach the Class 3A region semifinals. Earlier this month, Florida became the first school to extend offers to Livingston in both sports. 

He could end up playing both in college, much like his former Carrollwood Day teammate Mike Trigg plans to do at Southern California this coming fall.   

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Boys Basketball

City of Hoops Classic set for today

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City of Hoops Classic 

Where: Bishop McLaughlin

When: Today

Schedule: Girls rising stars game, 2; Girls senior game, 3:30; 3-point/dunk contest, 5; Boys rising stars game, 6; Boys senior game, 7:30

Livestream: Florida Athletics Network

Rosters

Boys senior game

Home team

G Ray Perry, St. Petersburg

F Jayven Millien, Riverview

F Ezereke Dawson, Plant City

G Dean Gabrelcik, East Lake

G Anthony Bittar, East Lake

G Mikey Shane, East Lake

F Trae Martin, Brooks DeBartolo

G Gavin Martinez, Cambridge Christian

G Oteman Delancy, Lakewood

Away team

G/F Mike Trigg, Carrollwood Day

G Mark Mulfinger, Berkeley Prep

G Christian Rolack, Robinson

G CJ Crews, Bayshore Christian

G Deon Brown, Bayshore Christian

F Tripp Burdgess, Alonso

F Matt Lentz, Durant

F/G Jaylen Wharton, Durant

G Ryan Weir, Jesuit

Boys rising stars

Home team

G Emanuel Sharp, Bishop McLaughlin

F Dillon Mitchell, Bishop McLaughlin

F Matthew Webster, Bishop McLaughlin

F/G Josh Watkins, Bishop McLaughlin

G Trent Scott, Alonso

G AJ Wright, Clearwater

G Braylon Jackson, Riverview

G CJ Lee, Clearwater

Away team

G Jason Jackson, Sarasota Riverview

F/G Tony Livingston, Carrollwood Day

G Javohn Thomas, Sickles

G George Kimble, Bishop McLaughlin

G Karter Knox, Tampa Catholic

F CJ Hawkins, Berkeley Prep

G Tristan Gross, Calvary Christian

G Kamrin Oriol, Admiral Farragut

Girls Senior Game

Home team

G O’Mariah Gordon, Braden River

G Cheyenne Stubbs, Braden River

G/F Adina Davis, Chamberlain

F Chimera Iloanya, Seffner Christian

G Jasmine Peaks, Tampa Bay Tech

F Jayla Murray, Tampa Bay Tech

F/G Tavi’yanna Habib, Armwood

G Courtni Demorest, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic

Away team

G Nyla Jean, Plant

F Kendal Cheesman, Plant

C/F Mya Lamar, Tampa Bay Tech

G Isabella Prada, Bishop McLaughlin

G Amarie Godwin, Brooks DeBartolo

G Triniti Youngblood, Brooks DeBartolo

F/G Brionna McClinton, Brooks DeBartolo

G/F Kassidy Jones, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic

Girls rising stars

Home team

G Jade Thompson, Tampa Bay Tech

G Sydney Shaw, Miami Country Day

G E’marie Lewis, Lady Drive Nation

F Nicole Carreno, Seffner Christian

F Amiya Evans, Tampa Bay Tech

G Arianna Mosley, Tampa Prep

Away team

G Olivia Delancy, Carrollwood Day

G Tanner Strickland, Plant

G/F Jaela Davis, Brooks DeBartolo

G/F Keyara Bromley, Armwood

G/F Tyra Kennedy, Hillsborough

F Leah Barnes, Carrollwood Day

G Ja’Leah Williams, Blanche Ely

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