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The Fullers hold court in Clearwater



The foundation for the Fuller family was built on a parquet floor inside Clearwater High’s Jack Wilson Memorial Gymnasium. 

That basketball court is where Jay Fuller and Angie Peshl met the first day of ninth grade P.E in 1989. Soon after, they were dating. The two remained a couple throughout high school. 

Sports, particularly basketball, became their common ground. Angie watched all four years when Jay played for the Tornadoes (1989-93).

Their relationship became serious, so much that Jay wanted to propose in 1997. 

He knew exactly where he wanted to pop the question: the hardwood court at Clearwater. Jay convinced then-Tornadoes coach Rudy Coffin to open the gym’s doors. Jay waited for Angie inside, then got on one knee. 

The couple, now married, started building a family. They now have three children — Grace, Liv and JJ. 

Basketball continued to play a dominant role in their lives. Liv was consumed by the sport. She tried skateboarding and other activities, but once she grabbed a basketball, nothing else came close. 

Liv honed her skills night and day. She wore plenty of basketball attire, too. During Liv’s first communion, she sported a LeBron James jersey and gym shorts underneath her dress.

Even after darkness fell and her parents called her to come inside, Liv stayed outside, shooting and dribbling.

“Basketball means everything to me,” Liv said. “I not only love the sport, but it’s one of the things that makes me the happiest when I’m playing. I am constantly training, whether it’s a game, practice or skills training, I would say 6-7 days a week I’m playing and practicing.” 

Her basketball teammates became her best friends. Liv developed the closest bond with Ace Sturdivant. They played on the same team in travel and in middle school. 

The two vowed to play together in high school, too. 

Trouble was, that initially meant not playing at Clearwater.

Ace planned on enrolling in a magnet program at Palm Harbor University. Liv, whose older sister went to PHU, was set to join her.

Then plans changed. 

Ace was unable to get into the magnet program. So they decided to attend Clearwater. 

“Everything just came about full circle,” Jay said. “Now, here we are, back at Clearwater.”

Once Liv officially enrolled two years ago, Jay told her about the significance of playing there, of how much that court was already a part of their family. 

“I have heard the stories growing up,” Liv said. “Whenever we went to a Clearwater game my dad would say that’s where our family started. I just couldn’t figure out how he got in there for the longest time then he told me his old coach let him in one night.”

But that court is not the only one connected to the family. In the summer of 2019, the Fullers moved into a new home with a backyard big enough to build a basketball court.

“It’s a half-court and the dimensions are a little bit smaller than the ones in high school, but it allows Liv to work on whatever she needs to without having to go everywhere,” Jay said. 

The backyard court even has a name: the “Full Court.”

Liv has used both courts to her advantage. The sophomore has developed into a go-to player for the Tornadoes and has led the program to its first state semifinal appearance since 2007. 

On Thursday, Liv gets to play on the hardwood court at Lakeland’s RP Funding Center, something her father was unable to do during his high school career with the Tornadoes. 

“It’s going to be a special day,” Jay said.


Football: Friday night scoreboard



Final Tampa Bay Tech 21, Wharton 12

Final St. Petersburg Catholic 47, Bishop McLaughlin 15

Final Gibbs 50, Gulf 21

Final Countryside 28, Sunlake 7\

Final Berkeley Prep 49, New Orleans Newman 24

Final Zephyrhills Christian 30, Bradenton Christian 7

Final Boca Ciega 28, Seminole 21

Final Lakeland Christian 38, Calvary Christian 13

Final Clearwater 48, Tarpon Springs 7

Final Clearwater Central Catholic 56, Kissimmee Gateway 0

Final Northeast 21, Hollins 20

Final Sumner 14, Braden River 10

Final Legacy Charter 21, Indian Rocks Christian 14

Final Mount Dora Christian 48, Keswick Christian 0

Final Seffner Christian 62, St. Joseph Academy 16

Final Zephyrhills 35, Nature Coast 0

Final Largo 25, Sickles 7

Final Osceola 48, St. Petersburg 9

Final Steinbrenner 35, Chamberlain 21

Final Carrollwood Day 42, Cambridge Christian 7

Final Tampa Catholic 38, Winter Haven 0

Final Land O’ Lakes 36, Pasco 0

Final Jesuit 44, Blake 0

Final Armwood 41, Wiregrass Ranch 11

Final Palmetto 23, Bloomingdale 3

4th Q Alonso 52, Robinson 17

Final Plant City 31, Plant 24

Final Wesley Chapel 44, Hudson 6

Final Newsome 55, Riverview 7

Final Pinellas Park 46, Palm Harbor University 0

Final Fivay 27, Freedom 25

Final Bradenton Manatee 29, East Bay 13

Final Dunedin 48, Anclote 22

Final Spoto 46, Brandon 0

Final Durant 49, Middleton 6

Final Cypress Creek 43, Weeki Wachee 0

Final Lennard 33, Jefferson 31

Final Gaither 48, Leto 7

Final McCallie (Tenn.) 47, Clearwater Academy 14

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The Hillsborough County Football Player of the Week



LB/S Cole Highsmith, Jr., Plant City

After becoming a starter as a sophomore last season, Cole Highsmith took on a more prominent role as one of the leaders of Plant City’s defense. 

He took on that task by making play after play. 

This season, Highsmith has recorded 73 tackles and six sacks. Those totals already surpassed what he ended up with last year. 

Against Bloomingdale two weeks ago, Highsmith had 13 tackles, two sacks and an interception to lead the Raiders to victory. 

Fans paid attention. Highsmith received 50 percent of the votes (746) in the Hillsborough County football player of the week poll to beat out Wharton’s Daveon Crouch, who had 25 percent (376 votes). 

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Thursday night football forecast



Seffner Christian (2-3) at St. Petersburg Catholic (3-3), 7

After starting 2-0, the visiting Crusaders have lost three straight. The host Barons, meanwhile, have rebounded from a 1-2 start to win two of their last three games. 

Putnam’s prediction: St. Petersburg Catholic 30-28

Gibbs (3-3) at Tarpon Springs (3-3), 7

An important Class 5A, District 10 game for both teams not only to stay in the mix for a title but also to get above .500 for the season. 

Putnam’s prediction: Gibbs 34-21 

Clearwater (5-1) at Anclote (1-5), 7:30

The Tornadoes have won five straight and are the clear favorite to the Class 5A, District 10 title. The host Sharks are on a two-game losing streak. 

Putnam’s prediction: Clearwater 42-7

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