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BROOKSVILLE — Although Greg Finkel wouldn’t use the words himself, Wiregrass Ranch has been struggling a bit lately with Briahanna Jackson out of the lineup.
The Lecanto transfer is working to get sanctioned by the FHSAA to play for the Bulls, and in the meantime her new school is having trouble getting into a groove.
A trip to Central didn’t seem like the best way to cure those ills, but Wiregrass got back on a winning path Thursday with a 75-71 comeback victory over the Bears.
Coming off of a tough loss to West Port, Central (9-3) jumped all over the Bulls (7-4) in the first quarter. Using their press to throw off the visitors’ rhythm, the Bears ran ahead 30-17.
“We always seem to have a slow start,” Finkel said. “They were doing a good job backing us in with the press.”
Raqurra Ishmar, who may be the most dominant inside force in the area, was seemingly all over the court. The Central power forward had a triple double with 27 points, 15 rebounds and 11 steals.
Ishmar also got help from her supporting cast with McKenzie Burns (16 points, eight assists) and Tikiera Relaford (10 points, 14 rebounds) coming up big. Relaford eventually fouled out.
Wiregrass Ranch was never deterred, however. The Bears started to get into foul trouble and the Bulls started to even the score at the foul line. With 31 of their 75 points scored from the charity stripe, compared with only nine for Central, Wiregrass had an obvious advantage.
The veteran leadership of Kayla DeLoach (20 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) and Jeileen Mas (19 points) also helped force the issue as Finkel regrouped his team a couple of times. This might be the victory his team needed to end that recent string of struggles.
“I wouldn’t call them struggles,” Finkel said, “because everyone is still trying to jell. Maybe we’ll peak after the (winter) break, but as long as we’re peaking in the playoffs I’ll be happy.”