By Marigny Nevitt

Starting fresh with new coach John Gant, the Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) Bulls girls basketball team is off to a good start of the 2011-12 season. The Lady Bulls opened the season on November 9, with a 57-38 win over Sunlake High and followed that up the next night with a 66-35 trouncing of Seminole High. The wins came during a two-day preseason Tip Off “Classic” held at WRH.

The Bulls came out with confidence in the first quarter against Sunlake and cruised to a 22-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. Although the rest of the game was a lot less lopsided, the dominating first period allowed the Bulls to secure the win.

“The first quarter is how we play,” Gant said afterward. “I thought we came out very confident.”

Gant applauded Sunlake coach Reesa Hendrixs for “doing a good job” with her team. he also acknowledged that while the opening win was good for the Bulls, “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Gant has inherited a young team from former coach Greg Finkel, who led the squad through its first five years to a 73-56 record, including a solid 16-10 last year. Gant has only four returning players on his squad and of those, only senior guard (and last year’s top scorer for the Bulls) Kelly McCaffrey, junior guard Alex Diepholz and sophomore guard Logan Seoane played significant minutes for Finkel.

Despite their youth, the Bulls have shown some early chemistry on the court, although it has not yet reached the level where Gant hopes to see it. McCaffrey was like a coach on the court against Sunlake, clapping and yelling out plays all game. She surely is one of the better players in Pasco County, as well as in the Bulls Class 7A, District 9. The Bulls are the only Pasco-based team in their district, as the other four teams — Chamberlain, Freedom, Steinbrenner and Gaither — are all in Hillsborough.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see stats or more information about the win over Seminole posted on any of the high school hoops websites (or local daily newspapers).

Gant says he is looking for a successful season, but says that success won’t necessarily be measured by the team’s win-loss record. More concerned with the growth of his players, both individually and as a team, Gant looks to continue getting the enthusiastic response he has received from the girls thus far during practices.

“My job as a coach is to get the most out of my players,” he says. “That will put wins and losses where they need to be.”


Wildcats Lose 1st Game

The Bulls’ traditional rival is Wesley Chapel High (WCH), against whom they will host on Monday, December 12, at home. The Wildcats, under second-year coach Shawn Brown (the team was 15-11 under him last year), lost what appears to have been a preseason game, 62-30, to District 5A-8 rival Pasco High.

Unfortunately, at our press time, Brown had not yet submitted a roster or results for his team to any of the high school basketball websites, so we have no further details on the Lady ‘Cats, other than knowing that their regular-season opener was Nov. 17 at Gulf High & they have upcoming home games on against Anclote High on Thursday, November 21, and vs. Sunlake on Thursday, November 28.

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