WESLEY CHAPEL— Wiregrass Ranch has accomplished a lot this season, with victories against Pasco County powers Gulf and Pasco, but it still had one foe it couldn’t figure out from north Hillsborough County: Steinbrenner.
Never in the school’s short history had the Bulls defeated the Warriors, but Tuesday night Wiregrass Ranch used a stingy defense and a 12-point, 13-rebound performance from Amanda Melosky to take a 49-41 victory in the Class 7A-District 8 contest.
“Last time we played, we didn’t play well. This time, actually, (Steinbrenner) didn’t play well, so we’re kind of even right now,” Wiregrass Ranch coach John Gant said.
“We just beat Steinbrenner for the first time ever. It’s a huge win for our program, and we’re very happy to have it.”
Gant’s crew dug in defensively in the first half and held the Warriors’ to five of 24 (20 percent) shooting from the field and got a layup from Trakyra Kidd (5 points) before the buzzer to put Wiregrass Ranch up 23-16 at halftime.
Wiregrass Ranch (14-1) pushed its lead to 12 midway through the third quarter, as Steinbrenner (12-1) made several attempts to cut the deficit to single digits.
The Bulls reached the free-throw line early and often and they converted on 17 of 26 attempts, while Steinbrenner went eight of 14.
A 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter from Taylor Thigpen (7 points) cut the Bulls’ advantage to 38-35, but Wiregrass Ranch went on an 11-6 run to end the game, including a few big putbacks from Melosky.
Wiregrass Ranch held a slight 21-19 rebounding edge and shot 16 of 40 (40 percent) compared to Steinbrenner’s 15 of 50 (30 percent).
Bulls forward Logan Seoane had a game-high 14 points, and Olivia Unger paced the Warriors with 13.