Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sailing into State with a New Crew

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sailing into State with a New Crew

Article excerpt

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Coach Jutras finds success through big rebuilding job

SARASOTA

Sarasota's only senior, Shelby Miller, is home-schooled. This is her first season on the team.

A junior, Camille Giardina, transferred from Cardinal Mooney. Two players, sophomores Jer'myla Trebbles and DeQuandra Hill, played last season on junior varsity.

Ja'da Bennett, Madison Pack and Josie LeBlanc are the three freshmen. Only one, junior Zharia Grable, played on the team last season.

She didn't quit.

"I'm not a follower, I'm a leader," she said. "I just didn't want to get into what other people wanted to do. That's their life."

It could be the most successful marriage of head coach, team and season ... since the last time five players who were supposed to return didn't, leaving a head coach scrambling to put a team on the floor.

And once this one got there, it flourished, all the way to tonight's Class 7A state semifinal girls basketball game in Lakeland.

The story of the 2013-14 Sarasota High season, known henceforth as Against All Odds.

"You couldn't write a better Hollywood script," said head coach Rob Jutras.

The Sailors enter the game with a 26-4 record, ranked second in Class 7A and eighth in the state. They handed Southeast its only loss, and rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Fort Myers in the regional final.

A victory tonight over 26-3 Harmony puts Sarasota into the championship game for the first -- and only -- time since Jim Robinson's team did it back in 2001.

If you think these Sailors are close, you'd be wrong. They're closer.

"I've been on some pretty close teams," Giardina said, "but this is definitely one of a kind."

"We all love each other," Miller said. "We all do what we think is best for each other."

The origin of this band of hardwood sisters began last summer, when the players Jutras thought he would have began to send signals after a tournament at Disney. The wrong ones.

"I kind of picked up on the fact that they were losing interest in basketball," he said. "Unfortunately, they weren't really telling me that. They were telling me that, yes, they wanted to play in college and get better at their game. …

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