By Jeff Odom
The Wiregrass Ranch boys basketball team failed to capitalize on a chance to take the top spot in Class 7A-District 9, falling at Chamberlain 73-49 Dec. 7.
The Bulls (4-1, 1-1) struggled to contain Chiefs (5-0, 2-0) guard Reggie Hart, who scored a game-high 26 points.
“We matched their intensity, but then I guess we just lost all hope and took a breather,” said Wiregrass Ranch guard Larrentz Manora, who finished with 10 points.
The Bulls looked sharp out of the gate, taking a 14-7 lead midway through the first period, but things changed quickly when leading scorer Rico Kerney (20 points) was forced to the bench with two quick fouls.
Chamberlain went on an 11-0 run to take its first lead of the contest and followed it up with a 15-2 run in the second quarter to widen the gap at halftime.
“We know that Rico and (Chris) Parra are 50 percent of their points, and we like to think our bread and butter is our man-to-man defense, and I think that we have guys that take pride in that,” said Chiefs coach Chris Snyder. “Rico coming into foul trouble early obviously helped too.”
Wiregrass Ranch cut Chamberlain’s lead to nine with a 13-2 run in the third, but the Chiefs responded by shutting down the Bulls’ offense completely in the final period, holding them to just one point.
Manora said the team needs to keep up its positive attitude going forward.
“This game’s over; we’ll shake it off,” Manora said. “We feel like we can go undefeated from here and have a positive attitude all the way.”
The Wiregrass Ranch girls (7-1, 1-1) took care of business as sophomore forward Amanda Melosky helped lead her team to a 68-30 win against Chamberlain (2-5, 1-2).
Melosky, who finished with 23 points, said it felt good to get a district win after falling at home to Steinbrenner by four points Dec. 4.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Melosky said. “It was a close one with Steinbrenner, but now that we evened up the district (record), it gives us some more confidence to play and maybe beat Steinbrenner this time.”
The Bulls caught their stride in the third quarter after struggling to score in much of the first half. Junior forward Logan Seoane (14 points) and Melosky combined to outscore the Chiefs 26-8 to force a running clock.
“It’s definitely nice to get back into the win column in the district and I thought we played a poor first half, but maybe we were still spent from playing Steinbrenner,” said Wiregrass Ranch coach John Gant. “Overall, it’s selfish of me to be upset about winning by 38, so we’re happy with it.”
Gant said he could tell Melosky was ready to go before the game.
“When you see the look in her eye, she puts her head down, and you know what’s going to happen. … She’s a blue collar worker.”
The Bulls played at Academy of the Holy Names Dec. 10, but results were not available by press time. Wiregrass Ranch travels to district rival Freedom Dec. 11. The boys start at 6:30 p.m. and the girls tip off at 8 p.m.