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Pasco finally healthy

Pirates expect a full roster for play-in game.

Published February 15, 2004

DADE CITY - If Pasco was to get a grade for its district basketball season, the most fitting choice might be "incomplete."

For much of the season, that's how the Pirates have been, with stars Johnny Peyton and Deran Burns in and out of the lineup with injuries, recruiting visits and disciplinary problems and other starters playing while nursing their own bumps and bruises.

"I would have liked to see us at full strength more during the season," Coach Poncho Broner said. "But the other teams, they can have the regular season. This is when it all counts anyway."

And the Pirates (13-10) should go into Tuesday's play-in game against Nature Coast Tech with everyone healthy and available. Peyton, who missed time with a bruised tailbone and other games due to college football recruiting visits, is signed, healed and able to focus on basketball, where he has been the Pirates' leading scorer.

Burns, talented enough to earn an all-state honorable mention as a sophomore, hasn't been as consistent as a junior but remains, with center Darrell Davis and guard Jimmy Lyman, one of four Pirates capable of scoring 20 on any night.

Broner has warned his players not to take first-year Nature Coast lightly, as might have been the case when the Sharks upset the Pirates in Brooksville in their first meeting.

"A lot of people want to think, "Oh, it's a first-year program, it's an easy win, we'll be able to kill these guys,' " Broner said. "I didn't think that, but I"m pretty sure the kids did, but that's how young kids can be."

The play-in game between the district's two lowest seeds is less of a burden for the Pirates because it's coming three days before the semifinals, giving the week a more normal feel as opposed to other districts that schedule games on back-to-back nights. If anything, the rest of the district could be at a disadvantage with a full week off with no games and more time to think about the finality of postseason play.

The temptation is certainly there for the Pirates to peek beyond Tuesday to Friday's semifinal, which would give Pasco a third shot at rival Hernando. The top-seeded Leopards swept two hotly contested games from the Pirates, who were hoping weeks ago for a chance at revenge on Hernando's home court.

"They want that game," Broner said. "They're looking forward to that game, but we cannot look past Tuesday. If we're thinking about Hernando and don't show up Tuesday, we'll be watching Hernando on Friday instead of playing them."

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]

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