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Same marks, diverse strategy

By DEREK LARIVIERE
Published February 8, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE - Though Eustis, the runnerup in Class 4A, District 7, will show up at Nature Coast with an identical 22-5 record, that is where the similarities between these teams end.

The pace of this game likely will dictate the winner with Eustis favoring a fast, aggressive style on both sides of the floor. Nature Coast intends to play the same half-court sets that got the program where it is.

"This team plays aggressively all over the court," Nature Coast coach Jason Montgomery said. "They are constantly working the transition game, and they aren't afraid to trap constantly out of either the zone or man (defenses)."

Selina Archer, a freshman center for the Panthers, has been a real force in the middle. Her 6-foot-3 frame has allowed her to neutralize opposing players, and it will be interesting to see how she matches up with Nature Coast's team leader, Shareka Maner.

Montgomery considers the real threat to come from Eustis' two superior guards. While the Sharks play their most athletic backcourt player, Cherikhan Waddy, at the off-guard spot, the Panthers play a similar player at the point.

"The key to this game is going to be our guard play," Montgomery said. "If there was one place where I thought we needed improvement after the (65-21 win over Pasco to take the district title), it was on turning the ball over."

Power forward Lauren Wajerski and her fundamental play have been quietly flying under the radar each of the past two seasons.

She is the wild card for Nature Coast, and according to Montgomery, her position is the one spot where he believes his program has a major advantage.

"Lauren is solid for us night in and night out," Montgomery said. "She does all the right things when she is supposed to do them."

The Sharks have shot over 40 percent in four of the past five games, including all three of their Class 4A, District 8 matchups.

With that offensive success and home court advantage, Nature Coast is looking forward to reserving a spot in the state sweet 16 for the third time.

"Acoustically, our gym is one of the toughest places to play in when there is a good crowd," Montgomery said. "That's always a big boost to our confidence and helps with the pride factor of defending our turf."

Fast Facts:

Region Quarterfinals

Who: Nature Coast vs. Eustis

Where: Nature Coast

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Admission: $6

[Last modified February 7, 2007, 22:28:06]


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