TAMPA — On Friday night, Jesuit High senior Kyle Sahlsten etched his name in the history books of the storied Jesuit-Tampa Catholic rivalry, all with the flick of his wrist.
The 6-foot-1 guard scored a season-high 18 points, making six of nine attempts from beyond the arc, giving Jesuit a 67-45 win.
The victory was Jesuit’s fifth consecutive against its rival and seventh in the past eight meetings.
After missing his first attempt, Sahlsten made four straight in the first quarter, quickly pushing Tampa Catholic back on its heels while sending the Jesuit student section into a frenzy.
“They tried to run a press, and we just got it to the middle, pass it to the wing and kick it out and I was wide open,” Sahlsten said.
In the third quarter, Sahlsten’s final 3-pointer of the night was a few steps off the volleyball line to give Jesuit a 48-29 lead.
“Once I hit my first one, it just felt easy,” Sahlsten said.
Not only was Sahlsten’s shooting creating a double-digit lead for Jesuit (12-6), it became infectious. Jesuit made seven shots from 3-point range in the first half.
“We were really determined to shoot the 3 tonight,” said Jesuit coach Neal Goldman. “We felt we could get the court opened up and make those shots. All we were trying to do for the last two days was get the confidence to make those shots, and we told them if they missed to keep shooting.”
Sahlsten said his career high is nine 3-pointers. “I said to at least five people (Friday), it would be really nice if Kyle Sahlsten would hit six or seven 3’s tonight, because I think he needed the opportunity, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
Christian Whidden and Daniel Darst added 16 and 15 points.
Chivarsky Corbett led Tampa Catholic (10-7) with 11 points.
Barrett, Holder lead Sickles to victory
TAMPA — Even though it’s almost the middle of January, the Sickles boys basketball team is just finding a groove.
Case in point was Friday night’s 49-40 victory against Class 7A-District 8 rival Freedom as Gryphons guards Jaaron Barrett and Isaac Holder were silky smooth with 15 and 13 points.
What took so long? For starters, Barrett and Holder played wide receiver and quarterback for the Gryphons football team that went three games deep into the playoffs.
“When we finally did get them back, they were a little banged up from football and they hadn’t worked with us in practice,” Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. “It just takes a while to get back into that basketball groove.”
On Friday, Sickles (12-8, 6-1) led almost from start to finish, though the lead never was more than two or three points. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter, in fact, that the Gryphons held a lead of more than five points, pushing the gap to 43-37.
“We knew it was going to be tough because it was a district game against a very good team from Freedom (10-5, 5-2),” Garcia said. “I thought we did a good job of forcing some turnovers and that was a big key for us.”
Gryphon center Bryce Nickels, who finished with 10 points, also provided some solid defense against Freedom’s big man, Malik Robinson, who finished with 12 points.
“I feel better and better because we’re finally getting a groove,” Garcia said. “We should be all right.”
Freedom, meantime, has now lost three straight games.