Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hoops Heaven | High School Sets Sights on Two State Titles

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hoops Heaven | High School Sets Sights on Two State Titles

Article excerpt


LAKEWOOD RANCH - One by one Thursday, students streamed into Athletic Director Shawn Trent's office at Lakewood Ranch High School to hand him $25 for a field trip.

First one, then two buses, filled up with about 100 students reserving seats to leave school at 7:30 a.m. today to go to Lakeland and watch the girls' basketball team play in the Final Four game at 10 a.m.

"To hear about two buses coming, that was crazy," senior player Kyra Klarkowski said.

"Typically, people are not that interested in girls' basketball. That was amazing."

And this afternoon, Mustang fans will travel across the Sunshine Skyway to see the boys' team play in a Sweet 16 match in St. Petersburg.

The team is playing to earn their own Final Four berth in Lakeland next weekend.

School history is being made with the teams' successes, and the players, coaches and supporters are oozing with confidence and pride. They've worked hard on the court and in the classroom.

"This isn't normal what we have here, to achieve both athletic and academic success the way we have," Trent said.

Last year, the boys' basketball team earned the first-place award from the Florida High School Athletic Association for the No. 1 grade point average of 3.512. The girls' team, with a GPA of 3.568, placed No. 2 in the state, behind Orlando's Lake Nona, which had a 3.65 GPA.

Athletes in all sports at Lakewood Ranch High, about 1,000 students out of the total school enrollment of 2,350 - contributed to the school winning the FHSAA's top Academic Team Championship Award five years in a row.

"Those athletes support each other pretty well," Trent said.

Thursday night, softball Coach Maggie Feix invited girls' basketball Coach Tina Hadley to throw out the first pitch with her basketball players standing behind her.

"She said she wanted to make a big deal about us," Hadley said.

Immediately afterward, Hadley, five other coaches, the team manager and the players piled into three vans to drive to Lakeland to eat, talk strategy and sleep before their big game. …

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