Tampa Jesuit fans give Heritage early dose of playful hate

As American Heritage’s players walked from their bench back to the dressing room after their Class 5A state semifinal win Friday, a massive, rowdy contingent of Tampa Jesuit fans in the stands above razzed them.

The Jesuit fans, whose boys basketball team had not yet taken the floor for the other 5A semifinal which it would ultimately win, made their presence known throughout the second half of Heritage’s 68-49 win against Palatka.

“That’s what high school’s about, I love that,” Heritage coach Charlie Stephenson said exuberantly. “I’m from Kentucky, where you have Sweet 16, and it’s crazy. You have that kind of stuff going on, and Rupp Arena is jammed, and people are shouting and screaming. I love that. [What Jesuit fans did] gave me chill bumps. It reminded me of when I was a kid. And it was in good humor, good fun.”

Stephenson and Heritage players also weren’t bothered by the early tip-off (10 a.m.). They’ll play the championship game against Jesuit at the same time Saturday. Center Drake LaMont said players are used to playing AAU games during the summer even a couple of hours earlier than that.

“And truthfully, I don’t think I could have waited until tonight,” forward Jason Massey said. “We were too excited. We came to watch Coral Springs Christian play last night and we went to bed excited.”     

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