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WESLEY CHAPEL — In a big district matchup at Wiregrass Ranch on Friday, the home team picked a great night to have its best performance of the season. Meanwhile, red-hot Freedom picked the same night to play its worst game of the season.
Chris Parra scored 23 and Rico Kerney added 20 as Wiregrass Ranch blew away Freedom 67-46 in a 7A-9 battle.
Freedom came into the game with an 11-game winning streak, but it seemed everything that could go wrong for the Patriots did. They shot just 33 percent from the floor, missed 13 of their 26 free-throw attempts and had 20 turnovers.
But Freedom’s struggles had a lot to do with the excellent play of Wiregrass Ranch, on both ends of the floor. And offensively, everything the Bulls put up seemed to go in, especially from long range. The Bulls connected on 14 3-point shots. Parra and Kerney combined for 10 of them.
“That’s how we play, we like to shoot a lot of 3s,” Wiregrass coach Jeremy Calzone said. "It’s no secret. We’re going to put them up, and we hit a lot of them tonight.”
It was Freedom (12-2) that came out of the gate hot, starting with an 11-0 run. But Wiregrass quickly responded and closed out the opening quarter strong to get within two.
The Wiregrass momentum carried over to the second quarter. The Bulls used a 17-1 run to break open the game and take a 16-point lead into halftime.
A 10-1 run early in the third quarter brought the Patriots back to within seven. But a key Freedom turnover led to a run-crushing 3-point shot by Parra to push the Wiregrass lead back to double digits.
The 3-point barrage continued in the fourth quarter. The Bulls connected on five more long balls, outscoring Freedom 24-12 to put the game away.
The win for the Bulls (13-4) was one with potentially big district implications down the line. But Calzone wanted to steer of clear of thinking about the victory as a statement.
“I don’t really know if I’d call it a statement win,” he said. “Freedom’s a good team, but I told our guys that if we play defense how we did tonight, we can play with anybody. Our guys proved that tonight.”