Seminole High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team win the 2013-14 7A-9 district title. This was the first district title the team has won in 26 years.
SEMINOLE – Though they lost in the second round of the state playoffs to Northport High School, it’s been the biggest year for Seminole High School boys’ basketball since the 1980s; for the first time in 26 years, the Warhawks brought home the 7A-9 district title.
With a record of 20-4, Coach Josh Walker says the only record better than that was earned in the 1960s, when the team ended the season 21-3.
Walker, who graduated from SHS in 1997, said the transformation he’s seen since taking over the boys basketball program just five years ago has been amazing.
“They were only winning maybe 10 games a season,” he said.
Things really started to turn around the past two years, though, he added.
Last year the team ended the season 21-4, and 23-7 in 2012. Both years the Warhawks were district runner-ups, losing each time to St. Petersburg High School by just two and one points, respectively, in each district final.
Then this season saw a district shakeup. Every two years, the districts are realigned, Walker said. Though they’d face them in a regular season game, Seminole would no longer be contending with SPHS for the title.
But Walker was uncertain about how far the team would make it this year. Last year, eight seniors graduated, leaving holes to fill.
“We were kind of wondering if we were going to have enough firepower to get there again,” he said.
He began to motivate his players in the off-season with what they referred to as Operation 14 and a goal to make it into the district playoffs again.
And Walker put his players to work, as well. Over the season, they’d practice two times a day – weight room and drills during the day, scrimmages at night.
“We work really hard in the off season,” he said. “There’s a great commitment from both our parents and our students.”
Seniors Connor Frain and Tanner Cowan stepped up as leaders.
“They’re our biggest leaders,” Walker said. “They’re very unselfish players, more worried about the team.”
Meanwhile, two juniors lit up the scoreboard for the Warhawks. Marco Behori led the team in points with about 18 per game, Walker said, and TJ Frounfelter averaged about 13.
The team’s fans – known as The Splash Zone – were another motivating factor for the team. The bleachers are full for each game, Walker said, and onlookers wear special T-shirts they had made up, creating a crowd of orange.
“They’ve taken on their own identity,” he said. “They’re great and give us an advantage at home. Nobody wants to have to face us here.”
Though the season just ended a few weeks ago, Walker and the team are already thinking about next year. They have one goal in mind: winning the district title again.
It won’t be easy, he said. Though they’re only losing three seniors from his eight-player rotation of starters, including Frain and Cowan, those players happen to be the team’s biggest rebounders and make up the core of its defense.
“No one person is going to be able to replace any of them,” Walker said. “People are going to have to step up as a committee. We’re losing our height, our defense and our rebounds.”
Thankfully, the team’s two leading scorers are returning.
“But nothing is promised,” he said. “We’re going to have to work for it … We’ve got to get that chemistry back.”