By STEVE JACKSON
Three of the five South Shore girls basketball teams hold winning records going into the final week of the regular 2021-22 season. All will be seeking good seeds as the district tournaments open play the first week of February.
East Bay, Riverview and Lennard are all sporting records well above .500 as they wind down the regular season this week. Sumner is struggling and Spoto has only won once as regular seasons end and district playoffs commence.
The 15-6 East Bay Indians, coached by Tamika Hepburn, are on a four-game winning streak, headed into mid-week games. The Indians toppled Sumner High last Friday, 40-28, with Indians Jatia Marks named player of the game. Last week, East Bay also took care of Newsome, 43-37. One cupcake game, on Jan. 18 against 3-12 Plant City, and one barnburner the following evening against 13-3 neighbor Riverview Sharks remain, prior to playoff. Both are played after The Observer News deadline. East Bay is depending on the consistency of junior Briyana Sapp, who is scoring at a 13.2 points per game clip. The Indians top rebounder is senior Janaya Douglas, grabbing 3.6 caroms per game.
Meanwhile the Riverview Sharks girls, coached by Angela McAleavey, ran their won-lost record to 13-3 last week with three victories and only a loss to Newsome. The Sharks have been depending on the outstanding play of a trio of girls: junior Maseil Reyes, scoring 14.3 points per game; senior Olivia Zorilla, gathering 7.1 rebounds per game; and junior Leilani Brown with, four steals and two assists per game. The Sharks final test of the regular season was at home with 15-3 Durant on Jan. 18.
The other girls team playing at a winning pace is Lennard, under coach Cornelius Richardson. The Longhorn Ladies polished off King last Friday to up their worksheet to 14-7. The King win last week followed a close loss to Steinbrenner and a walloping from Bloomingdale. Lennard wraps up this week at home against 3-12 Plant City, Jan. 19. Then the curtain comes down on the regular season versus Newsome at Lithia. Coach Richardson in his first year has been sparked by seniors Halei Murrell, hitting 18.2 points per game, and senior Savannah Cox, pulling down 9.4 rebounds per game along with 6.2 steals and 2.6 assists per game. Also doing yeoman’s work has been a top bulky freshman with loads of potential, Kyah Vance.
Sumner’s head coach Marika Starks has one more week to improve its 7-11 regular season mark. The Stingrays totally demolished Spoto, 55-4, last week but suffered two losses. Both East Bay and Riverview-Sarasota easily handled Sumner. Mid-week games after press deadlines include Jan. 18 versus high-flying 17-3 Bloomingdale. Sumner, however, is heavily favored to end its regular season and boost its record against 0-13 Brandon, Jan. 19.
Spoto continues to struggle with a 1-11 mark going into the final week of the regular season. The Spartans, coached by Malikah Armbister, lost to Sickles, Sumner and Chamberlain last week. A junior captain, Genesis Manrow, has hit about six points a game to lead an anemic offense for Spoto. The Spartans have an opportunity to post a win mid-week against winless Brandon before traveling to Durant, Jan. 19, and ending regular season play at home versus 4-7 Leto High, Jan. 21.