By STEVE JACKSON
The dribble-derby season opens full force for prep boys basketball in the South Shore this week and next.
With Sumner High’s involuntary exit from the state football playoffs last week, all eyes turn indoors for the 23-24 basketball season.
All five South Shore high schools played Nov. 28. All five then also play again Friday, Dec. 1. Ready to hit the hardwood are Sumner High and Riverview High. Spoto High already has a victory after splitting its first two games. Lennard High and East Bay High also have two games under their belts, both at 0-2 prior to other contests this week.
The East Bay Indians have a new coach in the person of Jeff Turner. His main job is to snap a losing streak of 21 games, including a 0-19 miserable run from last season. The next three games all bring that possibility with EB games at Spoto this Tuesday, at Jefferson High this Wednesday and hosting Sumner Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. The Indians travel to Brandon Dec. 5.; King and Durant visit Big Bend Road Dec. 6 and Dec. 8. All these games start at 6:30 p.m.
Coach Turner’s squad opened two weeks ago on the losing end of a 57-53 score to Manatee High. At the Wiregrass Sports Complex, East Bay was thrashed decisively by McKeel Academy, 71-52. The Indians compete in 6A District 10.
The Spoto Spartans topped Gulf High of New Port Richey and then lost to Centennial High, 64-52, to open the new season 1-1 behind returning Head Coach Waymond Reed. Spoto went 10-14 last season. The Spartans appear to be built offensively behind two seniors, Jose Deleon and Deacon Spencer. Junior guard Johnaven Reed (no relation to Coach Reed) led the scoring with 18 in the initial win over Gulf. That win also saw Spencer score 15 and grab nine rebounds. Deleon snatched 14 rebounds versus Gulf and tallied 9 points and had three assists. In the loss to Centennial of Port St. Lucie, Deleon scored 20 with nine rebounds. Junior Donovan McSwain scored 15 and Spencer netted 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The Spartans play in 5A District 8.
Under Head Coach Chris Putnam, the Lennard Longhorns, looking for win number one of the season after dropping their first two early games, hosted the 0-0 Riverview Sharks earlier this week. A Wednesday evening game with Armwood followed. Another road trip to Manatee High is set for Nov. 30. Lennard starts December hosting Spoto this Friday and then travels to Sumner and to Tampa Bay Tech for games Dec. 5 and Dec. 6. The Horns opened with a 72-50 loss to Eustis High and then followed with a 74-62 defeat to Port St. Lucie. Lennard plays in 6A District 10.
Sumner High stores its football uniforms and brings on the round ball. The Stingrays hope to match or improve on last season’s 20-8 mark behind returning Head Coach Ryan Bethoney. First up was Durant High at Sumner this week on Tuesday. A short trip to East Bay is set for this Friday and then a Dec. 5 game at home with Lennard. Sumner is in 7A District 11.
The Riverview Sharks also return last year’s head coach, Anthone Corpening, who posted a 7-16 mark. The first two games were at Riverview. Lennard came visiting Tuesday, and the next night, Nov. 29, King High made a mid-week visit. The Sharks travel to Lithia for a Newsome match Friday, Dec. 1. Next week, the Sharks host Plant City on Tuesday. The very next night at 6:30 p.m., Riverview visits Robinson High. The Sharks have a Friday, Dec. 8, home date at 6:30 with Bloomingdale. Riverview is playing in 7A District 11.