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Girls basketball recap (Thurs.-Fri.)

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Thursday

Scoreboard

Elfers Christian 43, Grace Christian 30

Oldsmar Christian 51, Hope Christian 21

North Tampa Chrstian 61, American Youth Academy 25

Clearwater Central Catholic 51, Cambridge 18

Sunlake 58, Cypress Creek 8

Lakeside Christian 44, Northside Christian 42

Lennard 71, King 35

Sarasota Riverview 45, Newsome 35

Academy of the Holy Names 58, Lakeland McKeel Academy 16

Gulf 41, Pasco 24

Northeast 58, Tarpon Springs 24

Pinellas Park 51, Osceola 49

City of Life Christian 51, Brooks DeBartolo 47

East Lake 55, St. Petersburg Catholic 40

Jefferson 69, Plant City 24

Zephyrhills 107, Central 2

Strawberry Crest 50, Gaither 23

Wesley Chapel 60, Wiregrass Ranch 38

Nature Coast 38, Weeki Wachee 22

Fivay 61, Anclote 35

Mitchell 52, Hudson 8

Gibbs 55, Dunedin 48

Boca Ciega 49, Largo 28

Prime time performers

G Savannah Cox, Jr., Lennard: Tied Halei Murrell for the team lead with 22 points in a win over King. 

G Brianna Erickson, Jr., Pinellas Park: Led the Patriots with 38 points, including eight 3-pointers, in a win over Osceola. 

F/G Ashley Hancock, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Finished with a team-high 15 points in a win over Cambridge Christian.

G/F Zanaliyah Hutchinson, Sr., Jefferson: Had a team-high 29 points in a win over Plant City. 

F Alexis Jones, Jr., Northeast: Scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds in a win over Tarpon Springs. 

G Kaley Morton, Sr., Dunedin: Finished with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in a loss to Gibbs. 

G Angelie Pena, Sr., Academy of the Holy Names: Had a team-high 20 points in a win over Lakeland McKeel Academy. 

G/F Alexis Pridemore, So., Gulf: Led the Buccaneers with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals in a win over Pasco. 

G Whitney Rush, Sr., East Lake: Finished with 29 points, seven steals and six rebounds in a win over St. Petersburg Catholic.

G Audrey Varona, Sr., North Tampa Christian: Scored a team-high 35 points in a win over American Youth Academy. 

Friday

Scoreboard

Clearwater 62, Lakewood 48 (PCAC final)

Hernando Christian 52, Seven Rivers Christian 36

Elfers Christian 51, Spring Hill Christian 48

Northeast 61, Palm Harbor University 28

Tampa Prep 48, Berkeley Prep 28

Keswick Christian 68, Cambridge Christian 19

Tampa Catholic 56, Springstead 38

Academy of the Holy Names 41, Clearwater Central Catholic 32

Sunlake 50, Gulf 17

St. Petersburg Catholic 50, Northside Christian 18

Jefferson 64, Spoto 27

Riverview 46, Alonso 20

Lennard 41, East Bay 36

Gaither 40, Pasco 28

Bloomingdale 72, Brandon 3

Oldsmar Christian 63, West Hernando Christian 23

Plant 74, Armwood 61

East Lake 56, Nature Coast 23

Mitchell 44, River Ridge 36

Leto 45, King 35

Prime time performers

F Kendal Cheesman, Sr., Plant: Had 22 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Armwood. 

G/F Liv Fuller, So., Clearwater: Led the Tornadoes with 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in a win over Lakewood to claim the PCAC title for the second straight season.

G Ava Graham, Fr., Keswick Christian: Scored a team-high 22 points in a win over Cambridge Christian. 

F/G Tavi’yanna Habib, Sr., Armwood: Finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to Plant. 

G/F Zanaliyah Hutchinson, Sr., Jefferson: Scored a team-high 18 points in a win over Spoto. 

G Nyla Jean, Sr., Plant: Scored a team-high 24 points in a win over Armwood. 

F Alexis Jones, Jr., Northeast: Had a team-high 27 points in a win over Palm Harbor University. 

G/F Isabel Kacprowski, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: Finished with 18 points and six rebounds in a win over Northside Christian. 

F/G Kaylie Lewis, Sr., Bloomingdale: Had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Brandon. 

G Halei Murrell, Jr., Lennard: Scored a team-high 13 points to lead the Longhorns past East Bay and set the school record for wins in a season with 12. 

General

FHSAA releases softball class and district assignments

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The Florida High School Athletic Association released the classifications, districts and regions for softball 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 earlier this year. There likely will be a two-year cycle starting with the 2022-23 calendar year. Below is the list for area teams. For the full  boys softball list click here.

Class 7A, District 6

Durant

Newsome

Plant City

Riverview

Class 7A, District 7

Alonso

East Lake

Steinbrenner

Palm Harbor University

Plant

Class 6A, District 5

Gaither

Land O’ Lakes

Largo

Leto

Mitchell

Sickles

Class 6A, District 6

Armwood

Strawberry Crest

Tampa Bay Tech

Wharton

Wiregrass Ranch

Class 6A, District 7

Bloomingdale

Bradenton Manatee

Lennard

Palmetto

Class 5A, District 5

Fivay

Lecanto

River Ridge

Springstead

Sunlake

Class 5A, District 6

Auburndale

Groveland South Lake

Lakeland Kathleen

Pasco

Class 5A, District 9

Blake

Freedom

Hillsborough

Jefferson

King

Class 5A, District 10

Countryside

Osceola

Pinellas Park

Seminole

Class 5A, District 11

Boca Ciega

Hollins

Northeast

St. Petersburg

Class 5A, District 12

Braden River

Bradenton Southeast

Brandon

East Bay

Spoto

Class 4A, District 9

Cypress Creek

Hudson

Nature Coast

Wesley Chapel

Zephyrhills

Class 4A, District 10

Anclote

Clearwater

Dunedin

Gulf 

Tarpon Springs

Class 4A, District 11

Chamberlain

Lake Region

Middleton

Mulberry

Robinson

Class 3A, District 6

Central

Hernando

South Sumter

Weeki Wachee

Class 3A, District 9

Academy of the Holy Names

Berkeley Prep

Brooks DeBartolo

Lakeland McKeel

Tampa Catholic

Class 3A, District 11

Calvary Christian

Clearwater Central Catholic

Lakewood

Parrish

Sarasota Cardinal Mooney

Class 2A, District 6

Bishop McLaughlin

Hernando Christian

Mount Dora Christian

Ocala Trinity Catholic

Seven Rivers Christian

Class 2A, District 9

Academy at the Lakes

Cambridge Christian

Carrollwood Day

Foundation Christian

Lakeside Christian

Seffner Christian

Class 2A, District 10

Admiral Farragut

Canterbury

Indian Rocks Christian

Northside Christian

Shorecrest

St. Petersburg Catholic

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Former Largo and Illinois standout Bobby Roundtree dies

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Bobby Roundtree, the former Largo High and Illinois standout defensive lineman who became an inspiration for many by vowing to walk again after suffering a spinal cord injury, died Friday afternoon, the family confirmed. He was 23. 

No other details were provided. 

A candlelight vigil will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Ridgecrest YMCA. Those in attendance are encouraged to wear their 97Strong apparel.

Roundtree’s death came two weeks after he received the Bruce Capel Award for Courage, an honor given annually by the Illinois football program. 

Less than 24 hours ago before he passed, Roundtree posted a message on his Twitter page.

More than two years ago, Rountree was in a hospital bed, the result of a swimming accident near the docks off John’s Pass that required spinal cord surgery. It left him in a wheelchair. 

Before the accident, the goals were all related to football. A former two-sport star, Roundtree developed into a ferocious pass-rusher, first at Largo, then at Illinois. As a sophomore in 2018, he won the Dick Butkus Outstanding Defensive Player award after leading the Illini in tackles for loss (12.5), sacks (7.5) and pass breakups (7). His play made him a viable NFL draft pick.

Photos courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Since then, the ambitions have been different. 

Roundtree wanted to be independent. He wanted to travel. He wanted to coach, maybe even start his own rehabilitation center. 

Most of all, he wanted to walk again. 

“I just want to show everybody that anything’s possible,” Roundtree recently said last year in his first interview (via Zoom) with reporters since the accident. “You can be on top of the world and something happens, things might not go as planned, but there’s something out there for everybody.

“This injury isn’t going to overcome me. I’m going to beat this and be successful.”

After the accident, once the surgery was over, Roundtree woke up to machines beeping in every corner of the room. His mother, Jacqueline Hearns, kept saying he was special, that he was beating the odds. 

Friends and teammates were there, too, including former East Lake standout Jake Hansen, now a starting linebacker with the Illini. 

The coaching staff also came to the Tampa Bay area to be by Roundtree’s side. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith practically lived at the hospital, even while preparing for the 2019 season. 

The bond between the player and coach has always been strong. After all, Roundtree was one of the marquee names in Smith’s first recruiting classes. 

“Everything that Lovie said during the recruiting process, about being a family, he stuck by,” Packers coach Marcus Paschal said last year. “You could see it during Bobby’s injury and hospital stay. I don’t know of too many other college coaches who would have done what he did. That was big.”

In June of 2019, Rountree was transported to a rehabilitation center in Chicago. He had lost 70 pounds. He could barely raise his right hand, much less do push ups, after the surgery. 

Roundtree ignored conservative prescriptions for recovery, continuingly defying odds. Before long, he was manually pushing himself in a wheelchair. His triceps muscles were developing.

None of this came as a surprise to Jeremy Busch, the head athletic trainer for Illinois football. 

“After this injury you watched a person that eventually was at the worst point in his life, and yet he doesn’t acknowledge that to where it beats him, but he acknowledges it to motivate him,” Busch said last year of Roundtree. “He’s truly your idea of hope and inspiration on a daily basis. He’s gone from the simplest of struggles to absolutely overcoming everything that you put in front of him.”

Roundtree also was determined not to stay in football exile. He kept in contact with teammates. The coaching staff included him in meetings, virtually. 

The grit Roundtree showed through the grueling stages gave the Illini inspiration. A sign was displayed on the top of a tunnel that the players would touch before heading out to Memorial Stadium. It read: 97 Strong (referring to Roundtree’s number).

Illinois became the feel-good team of college football in 2019. The wins kept coming, often in dramatic ways. 

A field goal as time expired was the difference when the Illini handed the Badgers, ranked No. 6 at the time, their first loss in October of last season. It was the Illini’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2011. Afterward, Illinois players recorded videos of their celebration and sent them to Roundtree.

Three weeks later, the Illini rallied from a 21-point third quarter deficit to beat Michigan State 37-34. 

“I would do anything for the kid,” Hansen said last year of Roundtree. “He’s been a huge inspiration.”

Roundtree attended the 2019 regular season finale, his first game at Memorial Stadium since the injury. He led the team in a pregame prayer. 

And Roundtree remained part of the team. His locker was untouched. 

“Having the team I have now I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Roundtree said last year. “They’ve been very supportive. They know I’m going to work. I know they’re going to work. We’ve got each other’s backs.”

The Illini faithful have shown financial support, too, pledging money to help offset some of Roundtree’s medical expenses. 

“With everybody so behind me and pushing me, that makes me want to go harder,” Roundtree said last year. “The support of everybody fundraising and everybody donating that means a lot having that support. I don’t have a million dollars to help me through this all. People are giving their last pennies to help me out. That’s just a lot of love right there, and I appreciate everybody for that.”

Roundtree spent the past year at home in Largo rehabilitating. He kept posting video messages of his progress. He bench pressed. He did core work. He rolled on to his side, even tried to stand up with the aid of athletic trainers.  

The final steps Roundtree wanted to take were on his own. 

“When somebody tells me I can’t do something I’m going to prove them wrong and show that I’ll be able to do it,” Roundtree said last year. “It might take me a couple of tries, but I’m going to do it.

“I want to show everybody that anything is possible, no matter the situation.”

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College Football

Lakewood’s Amari Niblack commits to Alabama

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Lakewood’s Amari Niblack had offers from 15 schools entering this week, including Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU. 

Then Niblack went to a camp at Alabama and picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide. 

That was all the three-star prospect needed to make up his mind. 

On Thursday, Niblack announced on social media that he committed to Alabama. 

A 6-foot-4 pass catching target, Niblack can play receiver or tight end. This past season, he had seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns according to the stats listed on MaxPreps. 

This is the second straight season Alabama has landed an area receiver and the third time in the past five seasons the Crimson Tide has picked a local skill player.

Agiye Hall, who starred at Armwood and Bloomingdale, was part of the 2021 class. He was an early enrollee and has already made an impact with several highlight-worthy catches in the spring game. 

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