For a Wiregrass Ranch girls basketball program that was surrounded with controversy under former coach Greg Finkel at the helm, most thought the rebuilding process for the Bulls would take a little bit of time to grow.
But senior Kelly McCaffrey returns and the guard has been nothing less then terrific for the Bulls, as she has put up numbers of 29 and 25 points vs. Mitchell and Ridgewood, respectively. Both the Mustangs and Rams are teams that returned several starters to their roster and were expected to be favorites within their districts, but it's looking more and more that Wiregrass Ranch will become a contender with McCaffrey and her leadership.
Against the Mustangs last week, the Bulls looked seemingly lost in the first quarter going down 18-5. But John Gant's squad slowly climbed their way back into the game and in the fourth quarter went back-and-fourth, with McCaffrey and Mitchell's Nine Argento (20 points) trading baskets. The two squads would end up going into overtime and McCaffrey would lead the Bulls to a surprising, come-from-behind victory over the Mustangs 63-60 in thrilling fashion.
Wiregrass Ranch knocked off Ridgewood 43-34 and improved to 2-0 last Friday night and McCaffrey led the Bulls with 25 points.
AATL OFF TO FAST START: The Wildcats are picking up from where they left off last season and in their pre-season classic, with potential playoff contenders Winter Haven, Gulf and Gibbs taking part.
Academy at the Lakes defeated Gibbs 61-42 and Winter Haven rolled to a 84-65 win over Gulf, with the Buccaneers being without the services of starting point guard Lexy Schulman. On the second day of the classic, the Wildcats continued their dominance and easily defeated the Buccaneers 58-42. Gulf was once again without Schulman and also guard Kayla Kivinski.
In the Wildcats first game of the regular season vs. Admiral Farragut, Academy at the Lakes flexed its muscle and cruised to an easy 78-10 victory. The Wildcats are looking to be a prime contender in Class 2A and should have a fairly easy road in 2A-District 8.
GULF NIPPED BY TAMPA CATHOLIC: The Buccaneers won their season-opener game vs. Wesley Chapel 71-43, but in their second game of the season dropped a close 68-67 contest to Tampa Catholic last Friday night.
Tampa Catholic, who won the Class 3A state championship last season but lost key guard Megan Keough, who is now at Central FloridaUCF, were almost out of the game at halftime after going down 30-21, behind a huge second quarter by Gulf. The Buccaneers out-scored the Crusaders 20-6 in the second period and would go into the fourth quarter up 53-39.
And the fourth quarter is when the Crusaders would make their big splash, as the Tampa Catholic would explode for 29 points and led by Micah Kroll's double-double, with the small forward notching 29 points and 10 rebounds and going 4-of-5 from the three-point line.
The Crusaders were bouncing back from a 67-47 loss to Indian Rocks Christian four days earlier. Gulf's next regular season contest is vs. Fivay and have returned starting point guard Lexy Schulman to the lineup, after the junior was out during the pre-season due to an ankle injury.
Pasco Tribune/TBO.com Top 5
1. Academy at the Lakes
3. Wiregrass Ranch
5. River Ridge