The best way to describe the 1994-95 Southeast High boys basketball team is perfection.
Some might argue this group didn't have the most individual talent, but no one could diminish the magnitude of its accomplishments.
The '94-95 Seminoles went undefeated (35-0) and became the only boys basketball team from Manatee County to win a state title.
They did it with flair over a road filled with obstacles.
The ice man was Peter Warrick, who despite being known for his football talent put on a clinic with riveting play that gave new meaning to the world clutch.
In winning three region tournament games and two in the final four of a tough Class 5A, the team faced some of the state's all-time top players, including Tracy McGrady, who went on to have a storied NBA career; Teddy Dupay, the state's career scoring leader; Desmond Clark, an NFL tight end; and in the championship game, Jermaine Walker, touted as the best college prospect in the state that year.
But Southeast had its stars, too, including Warrick, a 5-foot-9 point guard who could play above the rim, and the late 6-9 Hazell Stoudemire, brother of current NBA star Amare Stoudemire. The other starters were Ralph Griggs, Reggie Williams and John Smith. The sixth man was freshman Travis Garvin.
In the region title game against Lakeland Kathleen, Warrick stole the ball at midcourt, weaved his way through a bevy of defenders and dropped in a layup to give the Noles a 58-56 overtime victory.
In the region semifinal, Warrick scored 19 fourth-quarter points in a 101-94 victory over Cape Coral Mariner. Southeast defeated Milton 62-55 in the state semis with Warrick scoring 18 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Stoudemire hauled in 16 rebounds and added 11 points.
"(University of North Carolina basketball coach) Dean Smith told me if Peter ever decided to play college basketball that I should immediately call him," said Bob Carroll, head coach of all the great Southeast teams. "Peter
was a winner. He told the team before the state championship game that we had unfinished business and we were not going home without a trophy.
"I had other teams with more individual talent, but the chemistry on this team was great, and Peter was the main reason. All five of our starters averaged double figures, the only time I had that (in 16 years) at Southeast."
In the state championship game, the Noles beat Pompano Beach Ely 72-68. Stoudemire had 22 points, 15 rebounds and four steals. Griggs and Williams had 14 points each.
"It's a team thing. It's not an 'I' thing. It's not a 'me' thing. It's a team. We all revolve around each other, not just one person," Warrick said after the state final in a statement his supporters might dispute. "We kept our composure and stayed together. We played good defense, and defense wins championships."
Southeast became the first 5A school to win a state football and basketball championship in the same school year and first school in 23 years to accomplish that feat.
Warrick also cemented his reputation is the most successful prep athlete in county history, winning three state titles and going to the state basketball final four three times.
Warrick went on to star in football at FSU and become a first-round NFL draft choice. Garvin played two years of football at West Virginia. Stoudemire never played again, went to prison and tragically died in a car accident in February 2012.
Ironically, no one on this team ever played college basketball at a four-year school.
Clifford Rozier was voted Mr. Basketball in this his senior year and was a Parade All-American first-team choice. He led the state in scoring (34.5), rebounding (16 rpg) and blocked shots (6 per gm). The Noles (28-4) were ranked No. 1 in 3A most of the season and only lost to only one Florida school. Unfortunately, that was St. Petersburg Gibbs, which ended the Noles' season in the district final. In those days, only the district champ advanced. Other key players were Chris Ward, Junior Wilcox, Patrick Henderson and
This was another great Southeast season ended by Gibbs. Rozier and Ward were juniors, Elliot Washington was the point guard, and Terry Green was the shooting guard. Four starters eventually went Division I, and some argue this is Southeast's best team. The Noles finished 29-3. "Elliot was a great point guard. Clifford knew if he didn't play hard he wasn't going to get the ball," Carroll said.
This team set the program record with 32 victories (32-5) and reached the 4A state semifinal. The Noles were led by LeRon Williams, who was named Mr. Florida after averaging 24 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks per game. He broke Rozier's school record for career points (2,778) and rebounds (1,373) as well as single-game rebounds (27). The squad included John Reeves and Warrick.