By STEVE JACKSON
After a holiday break, boys high school basketball resumes action in 2023 for the five South Shore squads. Sumner High remains the top hoop squad in the South Shore. The Stingrays chalked up a 2-1 record over the holiday break to move their overall mark to 10-3. No other South Shore team is playing over .500 ball. Spoto is even at 6-6. Lennard is struggling at 3-6. Riverview has slipped to a 3-6 mark, and East Bay High is wallowing in the winless ranks at 0-8.
Almost a cinch for a state playoff bid, Sumner continues to do well under head coach Jamie Turner. The Stingrays face East Lake High at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, at Tarpon Springs. The next opportunity for home court advantage for Sumner is versus Middleton High, a sub-.500 squad visiting from Tampa on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. (See separate article on Sumner in this week’s newspaper print and online).
The Spoto Spartans under Head Coach Waymon Reed beat Freedom High over the holiday break. Now the Spartans are looking for the return of injured leading scorer Chris Charite who has missed the last four games. Second-leading scorer Jayden Johnson also went down with a slight injury halfway through the Freedom victory. Johnson is also expected to return to the starting lineup in 2023.These two seniors along with junior Juan Deleon provide Spoto a fighting chance against Sumner High in Spoto at 8 p.m. Jan. 11. While the Sumner squad is a tough challenge for Spoto, overconfidence is the Spartans’ biggest concern for a pair of games against the weak 1-7 Brandon Eagles in early 2023. The Spartans return to the hardwood on a road trip to play in Brandon at 8 p.m. Jan. 10. Then after the confrontation with Sumner, Spoto hosts Brandon Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Riverview, Lennard and East Bay are looking to close the books on 2022 and hoping 2023 will bring about a bit of a change. All three teams are struggling at this point as they look to improve not only their sub-par records but somehow miraculously qualify for the state playoffs, which can only be done with better performances on the court and some victories.
The Riverview Sharks were totally overmatched over the holidays in the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational. Coached by Anthoine Corpening in his first year, the Sharks were decimated 86-40 by Olympic High of Charlotte, N.C. The acclaimed national powerhouse Olympic High team ran its unbeaten record to 11-0 against the Sharks. The next day Olympic also romped a New York City high school team in the same annual tourney 80-43. Olympic is paced by one of the nation’s top recruits, Kameron Taylor, a 6 foot 5 inch star averaging 17.5 points per game along with 10.5 rebounds per game who also has great stats for steals, assists and blocks. The Olympic High Trojans are scoring at a rate of 890 points and giving up only 586. That is a team average of 74 points per game scored while yielding only 49 per game. Next on the menu for ravenous Olympic was a Dec. 30 date with 6-6 Hillsborough High in the tourney.
Riverview had a tourney matchup with 5-8 Armwood the afternoon of Dec. 30 in a feasible attempt to end its four-game losing streak and wrap up 2022 with a win.
The Sharks then have a pair of games at home. The Hillsborough Terriers come to Riverview Jan. 11, followed the next night by a visit from Brandon. The Sharks then take a road trip to the tough Durant Cougars for a tipoff on Jan 14.
Lennard is another South Shore round ball squad that cannot quite make it over the break-even hump in 2022-23—at least not yet. Coached by Chris Putnam, the Longhorns dropped a 65-55 decision to Tampa Bay Tech Christmas week. Lennard now carries a 3-6 mark into 2023. Its first game of the New Year is in Bradenton Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. with the Manatee High Hurricanes, who sport a 3-7 record. The Longhorns play two games in Ruskin after that. Bloomingdale at 5-7 comes to the Horns lair Jan. 11. Then the talented and tough 12-1 Newsome High squad, coached by Barry Jacobs, from Lithia visits Jan. 13. Both games start at 8 p.m. The Longhorns are looking for other team members to contribute in addition to leading scorer junior Nigel Roseboro.
The winless East Bay High Indians finally resume basketball play Jan. 10 at home against Armwood. Struggling under Head Coach Marcus Ludwig, the Indians face Newsome on the road Jan. 11 and then Plant City at home Jan. 13. So far, only senior Chris Stewart has provided any consistency for the Indians.