Two titles in one year for Zephyrhills Christian
By Kyle LoJacono
The New York Yankees have the most MLB championships with 27. The Montreal Canadians have won the most Stanley Cups with 24. The Boston Celtics have the most NBA titles with 17 and the Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl crowns with six.
Zephyrhills Christian is not yet as synonymous with championships as those professional franchises, but a few more years like this one may change that perception.
The Warriors girls basketball team won the 2011 Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial Schools (FCAPPS) state championship by defeating Hillsborough Baptist 44-10 on Feb. 19.
The title comes a few months after the Zephyrhills Christian football program won the FCAPPS six-man football state title with a perfect 13-0 season, the first championship for the school.
“Football is really big at this school,” said sophomore forward Tatum Shampine, who was on the Warriors first girls basketball team. “We wanted to have a good season and it’s great to have a championship too. Last year we got to the finals and got beat badly.”
Warriors girls basketball coach Amy Jones said it was a relief to win the title in the same year as the football team.
“We’re so competitive with everything we do,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of good-spirited trash talk between us and the football team.”
The girls basketball team returned most of its players from last year, including every starter.
“They’ve all played together for a number of years and I knew they were ready,” Jones said. “Our only senior Amy (Pecoraro) really wanted it and so did the other girls. I knew they were going to do something special.”
The Warriors were confident, but an early game against Families Instructing Students HomeSchool (FISH), a home school program in Brandon, was a tough win. It was the second game of the season and was only a four-point victory for Zephyrhills Christian, the closest of the year.
“We really had to pull together,” Jones said. “They came back from behind and we let our guard down. That taught the girls to finish games and not let the other team come back.”
Tatum said that win sparked the title run.
“That was our toughest game,” Tatum said. “After that we didn’t want to get cocky, but we knew if we played up to our level, we could win.”
The Warriors offensive leader was Abby Greene and was also the team MVP.
“Abby was our leading scorer in every game,” Tatum said. “It wasn’t a one-player team, but she was a big offensive player for us. When FISH came back against us she really stepped up and helped us finish that win.”
Pecoraro was Zephyrhills Christian’s center and was a big part of their defense.
“The girls were high-tempo on both sides,” Jones said. “They scored a lot, but were really good defensively. They tried to hold the other team to as few points as possible. I told them defense wins championships and they ran with that.”
Jones said girls like Tatum and her younger sister Tuanie, a seventh-grade guard, will need to be a big part of any hopes of a repeat in 2012.
“I love playing with her,” Taunie said. “I look up to her a lot. I hope to get better so we can do it again next year.”
Currently, Zephyrhills Christian offers football, cheerleading, boys and girls basketball, bowling and soccer. Next year, principal Mike Smith wants to have weightlifting and baseball and to bring back softball.
“We plan to bring on more sports,” said Smith, who also coaches the football team. “We plan on going to 11-man football in the next few years, but we’re waiting for some growth. We’re putting up our first baseball field and we should have a full fledged athletic program next year.”
Smith said there are plans to add another wing to the school to make room for about 300 more kids.
“We’ve already registered 25 new high school kids for next year and we hope to continue to grow,” Smith said. “I’m excited to see what we could have here not only for academics and sports, but also as a place to teach kids about God and faith.”
For more information on the school and how to register, call (813) 779-1648 or visit www.zcawarriors.us. Zephyrhills Christian is located at 34927 Eiland Blvd. in Zephyrhills.
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