BROOKSVILLE — The district championship drought continues for Central after the press from Ocala West Port was too much for the top seed to handle in Thursday night’s Class 5A, District 7 title game.
In search of their first district crown in program history, the Bears were dispatched 62-29 by the Wolf Pack on their home court.
Central (18-6) had beaten West Port (18-9) this season when starting point guard McKenzie Burns was healthy, but with the senior lost for the remainder of the year to a torn ACL in her left knee, the Bears had no answer for the Wolf Pack’s biggest strength — its aggressive, quick backcourt.
In the first quarter, emotion carried the home team as senior forward Raqurra Ishmar (16 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) attempted to shoulder the load. With six points and four rebounds in the period, she helped the team stay in it, down only 11-9.
“We definitely came out ready to fight,” Central coach Penny Gressick said, “but when you ask girls to do things they haven’t had to do all season, it’s going to be tough.”
The contest opened up from there. West Port went on a 13-2 run to start the second quarter and never looked back. Jaleesa Townsend led the Wolf Pack’s pressure with 21 points, 10 steals and four assists. The team forced 24 total steals .
As for Central, Ishmar and forward Tikiera Relaford seemed to be the only sources of consistent physicality as the contest wore on. The duo accounted for 20 of the team’s 29 total points and 26 of the Bears’ 34 rebounds .
“I don’t know why this happened,” Gressick said. “We need to look over the game tape and make some changes before (the region quarterfinals).”