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Girls hoops: North Suncoast district tournament preview
By IZZY GOULD and DAVID MURPHY, Times Staff Writers
Published January 27, 2008
Finally, postseason basketball tips off this week, and it can't begin soon enough, depending on the tournament. Take Class 5A, District 7 - teams such as Ridgewood, Land O'Lakes and Wesley Chapel will have gone a week between the regular-season finale and Friday's district tournament semifinal. Then there's Class 4A, District 8, a nine-team district that could have teams such as Springstead or Sunlake - yes, we know the Seahawks are longshots - playing Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. In a nutshell there's plenty of hoops for the casual fan or the die-hard gym rat.
Class 4A, District 8 at Wiregrass Ranch
Schedule - Monday: Springstead 8 vs. Sunlake (9), 7; Tuesday: Gulf (2) vs. Pasco (7), 6; Nature Coast (1) vs. Springstead-Sunlake winner, 7:30; Wednesday: Hudson (4) vs. Zephyrhills (5), 6; Hernando (3) vs. Wiregrass Ranch (6), 7:30; Friday: semifinals, 6 and 7:30; Saturday: final, 7.
- Third time's a charm: The most intriguing matchup of the tournament figures to be a potential semifinal rematch between Hernando and Gulf, which split their regular-season series. Just last week, Gulf freshman Nicole Adams (14.3 ppg, 5.5 apg) hit a layup with 13 seconds remaining to lift the Bucs to a 38-36 win. Gulf will need leading scorer Jordan Schulman (15 ppg) back on her game in order to make it past the Leopards. The senior guard missed several contests late in the season with an injury.
- Sharks on prowl: Nature Coast has proven to be the predator of 4A-8 in hopes of defending its district title. The Sharks broke out to a 12-game winning streak before a trip to a holiday tournament in Kentucky resulted in a five-game losing streak. They rebounded with seven consecutive wins despite being without leading scorer Cherikhan Waddy (12.3 ppg). Waddy returned to practice this week from a leg injury and is expected to play Tuesday. Nature Coast also relies heavily on Shareka Maner (11.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg).
Class 6A, District 7 at Alonso
Schedule - Wednesday: Countryside (4) vs. Gaither (5), 6; Mitchell (3) vs. Alonso (6), 8. Friday: St. Petersburg (2) vs. Mitchell-Alonso winner, 6; Sickles (1) vs. Countryside-Gaither winner, 8. Saturday: final, 7.
A Mustang repeat: Last year, Mitchell was the undisputed favorite heading into the 6A-7 tournament, and the Mustangs didn't disappoint. This year, they'll have to climb their way from the No. 3 seed to repeat as champions. Mitchell swept first-round opponent Alonso during the regular season but split with potential semifinal opponent St. Petersburg. The good news? Mitchell won five of its last six games in the regular season and played a tough Land O'Lakes team close.
Class 2A, District 9 at Indian Rocks Christian
Schedule - Friday: Bishop McLaughlin (3) vs. Indian Rocks (2), 6; Calvary Christian (4) vs. Tampa Prep (1), 7:30. Saturday: final, 7.
Hurricane warning: The Hurricanes will have a tough challenge facing Indian Rocks on its home floor. Both times these teams met. Bishop McLaughlin came away with losses and was held to 23 points in each game.
Class A, District 11 at Citrus Park Christian
Schedule - Tuesday: Oldsmar Christian (4) vs. Canterbury (5), 7. Thursday: Academy at the Lakes (3) vs. Citrus Park Christian (2), 5; Oldsmar Chr.-Canterbury winner vs. Lakeside Christian (1), 7. Saturday: final, 7.
Wildcats get their shot: This marks the first district tournament for the AATL girls and, well, anything can happen. That's especially true against Citrus Park Christian. Both meetings in the regular season were two-point losses for AATL. Hey, this is the time coaches buy into the belief that it's tough to beat an opponent three times in a season. That's sure to be a topic of discussion in the Wildcats' pregame speech.
Class 5A, District 7 at Land O'Lakes
Schedule - Wednesday: Central (4) vs. No. River Ridge (5), 7; Friday: Land O'Lakes (2) vs. Ridgewood (3), 6; Wesley Chapel (1) vs. Central-River Ridge winner, 7:45; Saturday: final, 7.
- Gators vs. Rams: It doesn't get much better than this semifinal matchup. Just last week, Ridgewood ended Land O'Lakes' 13-game winning streak with a 46-33 win over the Gators. Brittany Brosnan scored 12 points and hit two 3-pointers in that game. Land O'Lakes, which lost to Ridgewood in last year's district semifinal, defeated the Rams 45-34 in their first meeting of the season. The winner advances to the district title game and earns a spot in the state playoffs. The loser sees a solid season end in disappointing fashion. Florida State signee Kayli Keough leads the Gators with 20 points per game. Land O'Lakes also has a pair of talented freshmen on the perimeter in Meghan Keough (12.8 ppg) and Kaitlynn Pacholke (4.8 apg). Only two teams have defeated the Gators this season - Wesley Chapel and Ridgewood. Land O'Lakes will likely need to beat both to win the district title.
- Wildcats are No. 1: Wesley Chapel has proven to be a true team in the wake of losing arguably the best player in Pasco County history in Sthefany Thomas (now averaging 8.9 points per game as a true freshman at Clemson). Ask Wildcats coach Warren Jones, and he'll tell you it has been a team effort. Ashley Carey is the leading scorer (10 ppg) with four others fairly close. Wesley Chapel will go for its fifth-consecutive postseason berth and third consecutive Class 5A, District 7 title.