WESLEY CHAPEL — After losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2008, Gulf needed to find its way back into the win column. Leading the way was someone unexpected. Someone not named Nicole Adams or Leighlani Paselio.
The surprise performance would come from senior guard Hannah Kotzen, averaging 3.8 points in her past five games, who scored 25 and helped lift the Buccaneers to a rejuvenating 71-51 victory over Wiregrass Ranch on Tuesday night.
“We dropped two in a row over Christmas and it’s nice to get back on the winning side,” Gulf coach Mike Quarto said.
“(Kotzen) was in a little bit of a slump. She came out and hit some big 3s in the second half to get her confidence going.”
The Buccaneers (15-3) held the edge through the first two quarters, with Adams (21 points) and Paselio (14 points, eight rebounds) combining for 24 of Gulf’s 34 first-half points. Down 34-22 at the half, Wiregrass (12-7) got back into the game behind the post play of center Kayla Deloach (20 points), who controlled the paint for most of the evening with her five blocks and seven rebounds.
In the fourth quarter with Adams in foul trouble, Kotzen stepped up and hit eight free throws and added a couple baskets to score 14 in the final period to help Gulf pull away.
Wiregrass coach Greg Finkel said there was no timetable on when Brianna Jackson may return to the court for the Bulls. Her last game was Nov. 16 versus Central. The Florida High School Athletic Association is reviewing her transfer from Lecanto.