TAMPA — The other side of the bridge will own bragging rights in basketball for the next calendar year.
The Pinellas County boys and girls all-stars swept Hillsborough in the annual Tampa Bay showdown Friday night at Hillsborough Community College.
The boys traded leads in the final five minutes until the Pinellas All-Stars, led by Louisiana Tech-bound guard and St. Petersburg High's Dayon Griffin, pulled away at the end. Largo's Brandon Jones was named the Pinellas MVP after finishing with 22 points, which included a slew of slam dunks. Strawberry Crest point guard Malik Channer was named Hillsborough's MVP after knocking down five three-pointers for a total of 15 points.
“Of all three all-star games, I think this was the most fun, said Channer, who also played in the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Unsigned Seniors Showcase. “With these guys representing our county, we lost, but it was still fun.”
Pinellas also swept the slam dunk and three point shooting contest. Lakewood's Jacobi Boykins, also a Louisiana Tech signee, jumped over the heads of two middle school aged boys to earn perfect scores from the judges to beat out Wharton's Jack Taylor and Pinellas Park's Nick Preradovic edged Channer in the three-point contest.
Lennard's Caelen Watts also scored 15 points in the loss for Hillsborough.
In the girls game, Gibbs High's Bria Bostick led a late comeback to give Pinellas an 86-78 win over Hillsborough. Bostick, who was named her team's MVP after finishing with a game-high 19 points, scored three points during an 8-0 run by Pinellas in the final minute for the win. Hillsborough led 73-61 with just over six minutes remaining when Dixie Hollins guard Megan Thomas, who led the Tampa area in scoring this season, scored eight points during a 17-5 Pinellas run to tie the game at 78 with 1:43 left to play.
Seffner Christian guard Sabrina Whiting, who this past season helped the Crusaders reach the Class 3A state championship and ended her career as the eighth all-time female scorer in county history with 2,072 points, finished with a team-high 13 points to earn was Hillsborough MVP. Aliyah Gregory of Strawberry Crest and Cierra Wheatley of Sickles each added 10 points.
“A lot of these girls were the best on their team,” Whiting said. “This was awesome.”