Sunday, February 20, 2011

Southeast rally falls short, but season a success

The season ended in a disappointing 61-55 loss to Tampa Catholic Saturday night, but the Southeast High girls’ basketball team was one of the feel good stories in the state this year.

With three freshmen among its top six players and only one experienced veteran to begin the season in Mariah Dowdell, the Seminoles exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations winning another district championship and advancing to the region title game.

It might have been one of John Harder’s best coaching jobs in an illustrious 27 year career that has seen him win two state titles, go to four Final Fours, win 18 district titles and advance to the Elite Eight round 10 times.

The Noles had no double figure scorers for the season and used a stifling man to man defense to compile a 25-5 record.

On paper, they were over-matched against top ranked Class 3A Tampa Catholic, the defending Class 3A State champions, who had been to two straight Final Fours.
Southeast put on an incredible rally in the third quarter wiping out a 16 point halftime deficit and taking the lead in the fourth quarter until they just ran out of gas.

The good news is that they have three freshmen returning, who saw extensive playing time. If the girls are willing to work hard on their game during the off season this program could go back to the days when it was an annual Final Four contender with Depree Bowden and Brianna Phillips

The sky appears to be the limit for Keshawna Robinson, Bevin Mays and Deangela Mathis along with the other freshmen who return next season. It all depends on how much time they want to devote to the game.

Kudos to Southeast’s three departing senior starters in Dowdell, Lacey Houston and Tymea Dunbar, who helped make this season so successful.

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