Four champions crowned in Center basketball
|Bradenton Christian Panthers
Front row, left to right, Lizzy Capps, Heather Dearlove, Tawny Najjar, Becky Elmore. Back row, left to right, Christine Civil, Jessica Magley, Amanda Kinney, Danielle Fisher, Kelsey Cobb, Tina May, Allison Wubben and Stephanie Bernardo.
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Regular readers of Islander sports have grown accustomed to reading about the basketball exploits of Justin and Hailey Dearlove over the past few years, but older sister Heather has recently enjoyed some successes of her own on the basketball court. As a freshman member of seventh-ranked Bradenton Christian Panthers girls' basketball team, Heather is not a starting player and she spent half the season on the school's junior varsity team.
You won't hear her complain, though. Not after the experience she gained after her midseason call-up, not to mention the contribution she made during her team's run to the state final four.
Dearlove concentrated on gymnastics in recent years, but kept her game eye sharp by shooting hoops with her brother and sister in their family driveway. When she started attending BCS, she tried out for the team and became one of the better JV players before getting called up to the varsity team.
In BCS' 62-54 victory over Lecanto Seven Rivers Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Dearlove played an important part in the Lady Panthers' rally from an 11-point deficit. Senior center and the state's third all-time leading scorer Jessica Magley started the rally with a three-pointer and senior point-guard Danielle Fischer contributed a pair of three-pointers during the run, but Dearlove's basket from the left wing brought BCS to within one point late in the third period as BCS stayed alive in its quest for the final four in Lakeland.
Dearlove and her teammates went on to make it to the final four for the fourth time in Magley's five seasons as a starter on the BCS girls basketball team. They defeated Tampa Cambridge 74-71 on Saturday, Feb. 26, before losing to eventual state champ Orlando Christian on Wednesday, March 2, by a 73-38 score. Orlando Christian later went on to defeat FAMU 66-39 in the Class 1A championship game.
With seniors Magley, Fischer, Christine Civil and Amanda Kinney graduating, Dearlove's role on the team could increase significantly next year if Dearlove continues to work on improving her game.
Congratulations to Heather and her BCS teammates.
Anna Maria AAA baseball preview
Anna Maria Island's Little League is set for the season with teams and players chosen. And the players are practicing and coaches are trying to figure out who's on first and whether "I don't know" is on third, and the season opener is quickly approaching.
Saturday, March 19, starts the festivities with a 10 a.m. baseball parade to the Anna Maria Island Community Center from the Island Baptist Church, which jumpstarts a day full of baseball games and other fun activities.
Sunday, March 20, has the league attending the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. World Series champion Boston Red Sox game at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, while Monday, March 21, has the AMI Little League season kicking off its season schedule at the Center's Benji Scanio Stadium in Anna Maria.
There are several changes in the Island league this season. For starters, there is no major league division. The highest league is AAA, which has three teams. Those are sponsored by Duncan Real Estate, West Manatee Fire & Rescue District and Morgan Stanley. Teams in AAA will be dealing with some new pitching rules, which league officials hope will translate into better pitching down the road. Twelve-year-olds will be limited to a maximum of two innings on the mound in any game and 9- to 10-year-olds will be required to pitch a minimum of two innings in any game.
AA boasts four teams: Morgan Stanley, Betsy Hills Realty, Bark & Co. Realty and Cannons Marina. A pitching machine will be utilized for the first half of the season before switching to live pitching the rest of the way.
The T-ball league boasts six teams: Coast Bank, Air & Energy, Beach House, Island Starter, Harry's Continental Kitchens and Boyd Realty.
The AAA division looks to be a two-team race between Duncan Real Estate and Morgan Stanley with WMFD looking a little younger and less experienced. With that being said, the requirement to have two innings pitched by a 9- or 10-year-old, and limiting the 12-year-old's innings pitched, could have a major impact on how games are decided.
Here are my predictions: Completely unscientific and based on conversations with coaches as well as my own observations and experience. Good luck to all teams in all three leagues.
Duncan Real Estate
Duncan Real Estate boasts sweet-swinging 12-year-old first baseman Jordan Sebastiano leading the team offense and hard-throwing 12-year-old right-hander Troy Kozewski leading the pitching staff. The Duncan pitching staff also has 11-year-old lefty Glenn Bower and 10-year-olds Jake Rappe, who will also see time at shortstop, and Kyle Crum, whose primary position will be behind the plate. Trevor Bystrom will man the hot corner, while youngster Travis Belsito, 9, will see time at second base. Grant Bower, 9, will patrol one of the outfield spots. Other members of the team are Patrick Edwards, Alex Hall, Max Miller, Daniel Pimental and Austin Wash. The team manager is Jeff Kozewski.
Morgan Stanley will be led by a pair of 12-year-old pitchers in Matt Bauer and Zach Even, giving them a nice one-two punch on the mound. Coach/manager Mark Howard is still working out the final details on positions, but he did share some insight on some of his players.
Eleven-year-olds Daniel Janisch and Blake Rivers are expected to be big contributors, while 12-year-old Zach Evans has been crushing the ball despite not having played baseball in two years. Howard has also been impressed with 9-year-olds William Brusso, Giorgio Gomez and Johnny Mattay. Another positive factor for Morgan Stanley is the presence of Martine Miller, Sarah Howard and Nicole Botero, who all were part of the Island Family Physicians championship-winning softball team. Other team members are Katie Hunt and Kyle Parsons.
WMFD packs a strong one-two offensive punch with Tommy Price and Joey Hutchinson, but has mostly unproven talent beyond that. Price and Hutchinson will share mound duties as well as splitting time at shortstop. Nine-year-old Max Moneuse, along with Hunter Parrish, Elijah Toussaint and Shawn Conover are all good young athletes who will all have to "step up to the plate" for WMFD to contend for the AAA title. Other WMFD team members are Alex Burgess, Jonah Castor, Michael Dolan, Joseph Fara and Justin Succa. Team manager is Ross Toussaint.
Roller hockey season announced
Come join the Anna Maria Islanders Roller Hockey League at the Anna Maria Island Community Center gym for 3-on-3 interleague play. The Center is offering beginner and advanced divisions for ages 8-13 with one game and one practice per week.
Cost is $35 per player, which includes practice time, league play and a team jersey.
Players are to provide their own stick, helmet with face mask, and elbow and shin guards. The season will run through May, including final week events.
For more information, call Andy Jonatzke at the Center, 778-1908.