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Consistency, youth plague Wildcats

But they're not giving up on making a run during districts.

By Izzy Gould
Published January 26, 2007


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WESLEY CHAPEL - Doug Greseth leaned back in his chair, stared onto the basketball court and began explaining the state of Wesley Chapel.

It has been a down year for Pasco County hoops, the Wesley Chapel coach and his Wildcats, who were 13-9 before Thursday night's game at Wiregrass Ranch. Losing two of the best players in school history to graduation left gaping holes on the floor. Last season's role players were suddenly promoted to starting roles.

The transition has had its rocky moments, but there's reserved optimism for a run in the district tournament and plenty of confidence next season will be better.

"We're just having a hard time putting four good quarters together," Greseth said.

Wesley Chapel has played the tough opponents tough. Ridgewood, considered by many as the county's team to beat, eked out a 57-53 win at Wesley Chapel. The Wildcats led by double digits at Land O'Lakes, but lost by 11.

"We've really played some good minutes," Greseth said. "But we've had time where we've just fallen flat."

The Wildcats are relatively young. They recently started a lineup with four juniors and a sophomore.

If there's a strength it is perimeter play, led by junior guard Greg Jenkins and his team leading 17 points per game. Another standout is Ladarius Manora, who played a limited role last year and has developed into a key scorer with 12.6 points per game and the Wildcats' best free-throw shooter at 81.3 percent.

And if there's a weakness it's Wesley Chapel's interior. Inexperience plays a key role in exposing the Wildcats interior defense. Rebounds and blocks don't come as often as Greseth would like, but the effort and willingness to learn is there.

"A lot of these kids were role players last year," Greseth said. "That's been more of a difficult transition than I thought."

The sagging atmosphere hardly means the Wildcats have given up. They have 13 wins. A little bit of a run could be enough to launch Wesley Chapel to state.

"The season didn't go as planned," Manora said. "It could have gone better. If we start to finish, we could have a good shot come districts."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 727 580-5315.

[Last modified January 25, 2007, 23:34:26]


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