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Boys Basketball

Sharp’s shooting leads to Bishop McLaughlin to 3A state final

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Bishop McLaughlin’s burgeoning athletic program has already done some impressive things this school year. In the fall, the volleyball team reached the state semifinals and the football program played for a state title as an independent. 

On Wednesday, it was the boys basketball that had the spotlight. 

The Hurricanes, who won just two games last season, made a memorable playoff debut by reaching the state semifinals for the first time. 

When it came to postseason experience, Bishop McLaughlin was at a serious disadvantage in its matchup with Jacksonville Andrew Jackson. 

The Tigers were in the semifinals for the third straight season and were motivated to get to the championship game after losing in the finals the past two seasons. They had 10 returning players accustomed to being on basketball’s biggest stage. 

Still, the Hurricanes had something better.

They had Emanuel Sharp.

Sharp, the Class 5A state player of the year when he was at Blake last season, was among several high-profile transfers who made Bishop McLaughlin’s turnaround possible. 

Sharp took those honors because of ability to pile on the points. 

And that is just what the junior guard in the semifinals, finishing with 39 points to lead the Hurricanes to a 79-71 victory. Bishop McLaughlin will play the Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian-Miami Country Day winner in Friday’s 3A title game

And that is just what the junior guard in the semifinals, finishing with 39 points to lead the Hurricanes to a 77-71 victory. Bishop McLaughlin will play the Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian-Miami Country Day winner in Friday’s 3A title game.

From the start, Sharp dominated. He threw down emphatic dunks. He stepped back and hit NBA-range 3-pointers. He knocked down free throws.

More importantly, he rarely missed, an impressive feat for someone making his state semifinal debut. 

The vastness of Lakeland’s RP Funding Center, site of the tournament, can create problems with depth perception on long-range shots. Typically, area teams that make it there schedule a practice at USF or Eckerd College to get used to playing in a bigger arena.

Trouble was, no team was able to practice elsewhere because of the pandemic. 

That did not faze Sharp. 

He missed just two shots in the first half, going 7-of-9 in field goals and hitting all 12 of his free throw attempts. His 28 points led all scorers and helped the Hurricanes go into the half with a 38-23 lead.

Sharp’s shooting touch cooled off. He made just one of his six field goal attempts in the second half. But his first half performance — and his ability to hit some clutch free throws (21-of-22 overall from the line) — was more than enough to lead the Hurricanes into the final. 

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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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