Friday, January 6, 2012

"Harpoon" event returns to Manatee County with cherished memories

BRADENTON- The Youth Foundation Basketball Showcase has had several names and now has a new venue, but the memories it created will live forever.

It was the event where host Southeast in 2004 ended Jacksonville Ribault’s 120 game win streak against Florida schools before what is believed to be the biggest crowd ever to watch a high school basketball game in Manatee County for either boys or girls.

And then there was 2002 when little Casey Baker stole the ball with a few seconds left and lofted a shot that enabled Southeast to knock off undefeated Clearwater the state’s top ranked team and national power.

It was the shot heard round the world for girls’ basketball in these parts and to top it off Baker went on to set a school record for steals at Marshall University.

It’s now called the Manasota High School Basketball Showcase and will be held at Bayshore on Saturday. It’s still under the direction of Howard "Harpoon" Karasick, who is putting on his 24th edition of this event, which was held in Manatee County on two previous occasions.

Regardless of the name and site, this could be another day of big upsets, particularly in the two last games, where the Southeast girls take on two time defending Tampa Catholic and in the nightcap when Braden River faces Sarasota Riverview in a matchup of the area’s two best teams.

For Southeast (13-3) it will mean taking on defending state champions on two straight nights. The Seminoles play host to defending Class 4A State champion St. Petersburg Lakewood on Friday in a district game and then face Tampa Catholic, the two time 3A defending state champs.

Southeast lost to Tampa Catholic in the region final the last two years. The Noles are now in 5A with St. Pete Lakewood, but would like nothing better than to extract some revenge over a team that broke their hearts twice in a row.

But this event seems to bring out the best in the Southeast girls and turn their head coach John Harder into a miracle worker.

“This is the first time we are playing state champs on back to back nights and I never heard of anyone doing that in less than 24 hours,” Harder said. “I am not some genius who wants to upset the world, but they said it would be better for the community if we did it so we are going to do it. It will certainly get us ready for the post season.

“We were up by two points at the end last year and lost to Tampa Catholic and our kids haven’t forgotten that. I want our girls to feel like they are preparing for the end of the season run and this will do it.”

Braden River (10-1) is unbeaten against area teams from Manatee down through Charlotte County. Its only loss is to Miami Carol City, a team host Riverview (11-2) beat in the same Christmas Tournament.

“We thought we could get to play them in their tournament but lost. Now we get that chance and are looking forward to it,” Braden River head coach Matt Nesser said. “We want to play the best and consider them maybe the best in the area. They are athletic and have good size and don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

To get his team ready for the post season, Nesser put together a road heavy schedule and has played only three home games so far this season. In their last game, the Pirates earned a come from 42-41 victory on the road at Punta Gorda Charlotte, which is a tough place to play.

“We haven’t played our best basketball yet. In order to be a championship team you need to play hard for an entire 32 minutes and we did that maybe in one or two games,” Nesser said.

The coach says his three starters from the football team still haven’t gotten their basketball legs yet and it has affected the shooting of point guard Steven Ross.

The Pirates are led by shooting guard Tre’ Bryant, who is averaging 17 points per game. Travon Young, the 6-5 junior, continues to be the Pirates big presence inside averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds. Tommy Bernhardt, a senior guard, is averaging a shade over 10 points per outing.

Riverview is led by 6-3 versatile guard Eric Traver, who is averaging 16.6 points per game and is surrounded by a lot of talent.

What: Manasota High School Basketball Showcase:

Where: Bayshore High

When: Saturday

Admission: $3.00 gets you in for all the games. Kids under 10 are free.


10:30 am (girls) Bayshore vs Clearwater

12 Noon (girls) Lakewood Ranch vs North Port

1:30 pm (boys) Palmetto vs Bayshore

3 pm (girls) Riverview vs St. Petersburg

4:30 pm (boys) Southeast vs Lakewood Ranch

6 pm (girls) Southeast vs Tampa Catholic

7:30 pm (boys) Braden River vs Riverview

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