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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
The Leopards erase three straight seasons of defeat, topping Central in four games.
By DAVID MURPHY
Published September 1, 2006
Because Tropical Storm Ernesto forced cancellation of practice Wednesday evening, Hernando players gathered after school Thursday to prepare for their intra-county game against Central later that evening.
For close to an hour, coach Cristi Brown and her players sat together and discussed their strategy for the Bears, whom they had not beaten in the previous three seasons.
"We were very pumped up," Brown said.
Less than seven hours later, the first-year coach and her team were standing on the court at Central celebrating a four-game win over a team that has owned Hernando County the past few years.
Riding the hard hitting of senior co-captain Cheyenne Sellers, who finished with 16 kills, the Leopards posted a 26-24 win in a back-and-fourth first game, then cruised to a 25-13 win in the second.
"This is Central," Sellers said. "It was in our hearts this game."
That's a far cry from where the Leopards were Tuesday night, when they fell to Nature Coast in three games.
"We were a completely different team tonight," Brown said.
Sellers was a big part of that difference, but so was her fellow senior co-captain, Carrie Davidson.
Davidson finished with eight kills and three aces while helping out-duel the solid play of Central senior Mackenzie Roberts, who finished with 16 kills.
"It was screechingly frustrating," Central coach Vicki Weaver said.
Central was competitive in three of the four games, losing the first only after being called for an illegal substitution while trailing 25-24.
As a result, Hernando received a free point, which ended the game.
After losing badly in the second game, the Bears won 25-21 in Game 3. In the fourth game, Central trailed by just two points late, but eventually fell 25-21.