By Kyle LoJacono
Last year, the Wiregrass Ranch boys basketball team suffered a season ending loss 57-52 to Nature Coach in the district semifinals.
The Bulls (21-7) avenged that disappointment in the Class 4A-District 8 finals Feb. 12 by defeating the Sharks 59-52 to win the first district crown in program history.
“It’s really a great feeling to be able to come back and beat them my senior year,” said Wiregrass Ranch guard James Tringali. “We started out four years ago with only a couple wins and have gotten better each year.”
Four years ago the Bulls went 7-19, followed by a 9-17 campaign in the 2008-09 season and a 21-6 record last year.
The Bulls had to fight back from a 26-21 halftime deficit to claim the district crown. Nature Coast was leading 52-51 in the last two minutes when Wiregrass Ranch went on an 8-0 run to end the game. It is the first time the Bulls have defeated Nature Coast in program history.
Senior Michael Chase led the way for Wiregrass Ranch, pouring in 20 points, while pulling down a team-high nine rebounds and adding two blocks.
Senior Antwan Prince put up 17 points in the finals. Tringali had a team leading six assists while also posting 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
The Bulls will play in the first regional tournament game in program history on Thursday, Feb. 17 against Wesley Chapel High, which finished as the runner-up in the 4A-7 district tournament.
“That will be a fun game,” Tringali said. “They’re in another district, but they’re the closest school to us. We played them earlier this year and it’s always intense. It’ll be like a battle for Wesley Chapel.”
-All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.
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