It has been a tough beginning for Hudson's boys basketball squad.
After winning their first district championship, things haven't gone quite the way coach Jason Vetter had planned.
Despite only losing one senior from that 20-9 team, that senior was leading-scorer Richey Williams (19.4 points a game). Then, before the start of the season, the Cobras lost Jamal Branco, who averaged 16.1.
"The way I look at it is last year was pretty easy," Vetter said after the Cobras dropped to 0-5 with a 54-40 Class 5A-District 8 loss to Wesley Chapel. "We only had one injury all season and we had a lot of young teams in our district. We knew it would be tougher this year, but they haven't moved on yet. You could see it all summer. They weren't working hard. They weren't taking practice seriously. They weren't taking the game seriously."
Those district teams like Anclote, Ridgewood and Wesley Chapel have developed into district contenders.
"I told them not to take anything for granted and the first day of practice (in October), we lost Tyler Holden, who broke his nose. And the second day, Jamal breaks his foot.
"You put all that together and you get 0-5."
Branco came back on Nov. 30 and played about five minutes against Tampa Prep.
"He said he felt good after that game," Vetter said. "He practiced (Dec. 1) and was fine and then on (Dec. 2 vs. Anclote) he tweaked his ankle in the third quarter."
Vetter isn't taking any chances with Branco and said he probably won't play until next week.
Until Dec. 1, Vetter had not had his entire roster at one practice since April. And that only lasted for one day.
Vetter knows there still is time left to salvage the season.
"We knew if we lost to Wesley Chapel (54-40), we probably couldn't win (Sunshine Athletic) Conference and probably district regular-season No. 1 is probably out," Vetter said. "But we're still putting things in that I think will help."
Ridgewood's Morris on fire
The Rams girls basketball team, after a disappointing 0-3 start, have now reeled off four wins in a row to bring their record to 4-3 and the latest victory their most impressive as Ridgewood cruised by rival Fivay 53-20 Tuesday night.
Reason for Ridgewood's success? Two words: Natasha Morris.
The senior guard has been nothing less then terrific in the Rams' past four contests, as the 5-foot-4 combo guard has averaged 25 points per game and also added in near eights steals per game. In Morris' first three games, she only averaged 11.3 points and one steal.
The significant differences may have come with the strength of schedule, as the Rams' first three opponents has a combined record of 12-5 and the combined record of the past four is 5-17. But despite the weaker schedule the past four games, Morris has played up to expectations and look for the senior to have her toughest contest to date this Friday as Ridgewood takes on Gulf in a crucial 5A-District 8 contest.
Gators' Brown has solid numbers
Simone Brown is one of the lone returners from last season's Class 4A region final team and the forward has helped lead the Gators to an encouraging 3-2 start with their two blemishes coming to River Ridge (46-28) and Tarpon Springs (41-27).
The 5-foot-11 junior has filled up the stat sheet in almost every game, as Brown is averaging 13.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 steals. One of Brown's most impressive outings came against River Ridge, when she notched 12 points and 15 boards.
The Gators are slowly starting to improve under first-year coach Phyllis Crain and should be able to compete with Mitchell and Tarpon Springs for a playoff spot in Class 6A-10 as the season continues to progress.