While other teams in Pasco County played in holiday tournaments and classics, Pasco High's girls basketball team decided to take time off. About 21 days to be exact.
Why such a long layoff?
Pasco is the favorite to win Class 5A-District 8 and it's no secret the Pirates have the firepower to go deep into the postseason after reaching the Class 5A region semifinals last spring before losing to district-rival Gulf. The Pirates now stand alone as the district's projected champion, but coach Troy Moore learned from last season that it's a long one and rest is always needed.
"Coming off the break we're going to come out a little rusty," Moore said. "We're hoping we can come off well against River Ridge (Thursday night). We're still young in certain areas, with injuries here and there. Last year we just wanted to compete. This year, we're hoping to win the district title and maintain that No. 1 spot."
On many talented prep programs, complacency can become a problem, especially with extended time off from playing games. Pasco's last game before winter break was Dec. 18, a 58-32 victory against Fivay. The Pirates' first game back from the holidays was Tuesday, a 57-28 win against Anclote. According to Moore, the team stayed focused throughout and hasn't lost its desire to win a district crown and clinch a playoff berth.
"I think we've stayed with the same mindset since last season," Moore said. "We still have goals in mind. Teams come at us with their 'A' game. Everyone comes with the mindset that they really want to beat us. It'd be a great goal to finish undefeated, but it's not our top goal. Our top goal is to go into districts and win it. We play every game, game by game. It sounds cliche, but that's how we do things."
At 11-0, Pasco relies mainly on its core from a year ago: point-guard Brianca Roberts, shooting guard Allahon Marbra and center Ashley Webster. All three play vital roles in helping the Pirates stay undefeated.
Roberts is having another solid season, averaging 17.1 points and nearly six assists. Marbra has continued to be a scoring machine for Pasco, posting numbers of 16.3 ppg and averaging just less than five steals a game. Webster, who wasn't a full-time starter on last year's team, has improved the most of the three, averaging nearly a double-double with 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.
"We're still practicing well, though," Roberts said. "With the practices we've been having, we are getting it together. Beating Gulf earlier this year was a big thing. We've been working pretty hard towards our goals. Couple of us have been playing together since middle school, so it'd mean alot if we could make the playoffs, win a district title and go undefeated."