Katie Horan still remembers the day she first played for Osceola’s varsity team — before her freshman year in a summer league game against St. Petersburg at the Wildwood Rec Center.
“I was so scared,” Horan said. “You just learn that you have to grow and it takes time.”
Now a sophomore, Horan has been playing basketball since third grade. But on that summer day at Wildwood, she realized high school ball would be much different than rec league games.
Horan blended in last season on a team that missed the playoffs and finished with a losing record. She had no idea what to expect this year.
Osceola was without a coach until right before the season started, then a familiar name was tapped: former Pinellas Park coach Seth McClung, who also happened to have pitched for the Rays and Brewers and spent last season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
Well, familiar to some.
Was Horan impressed with her coach’s resume?
“I didn’t have a clue (who he was),” she said.
But under McClung’s guidance, Osceola (13-8) has one of its best records in 25 years.
“I’m ecstatic about where we are right now,” Horan said. “We can win our district, I really think we can.”
The Warriors will never be mistaken for Lakewood, Boca Ciega or Clearwater, but the talk of playoffs is not crazy. In a district with Lakewood Ranch, Dixie Hollins, Largo and Palmetto, Osceola is one of the top teams.
Horan has been a pleasant surprise at shooting guard. She averages 16.5 points and has a school-record 48 3-pointers.
“When she’s on, she’s deadly,” McClung said. “She had a stretch of three games where she hit 19 3s. She has the green light. It doesn’t get any greener.”
The Warriors’ game plan is fairly simple. Fellow sophomore Brooke Sponheimer drives to the basket, and if the shot’s not there she kicks back to Horan. It’s Horan’s job to knock down the shots, which she has done at a record pace.
“I’ve been working on my shooting,” Horan said. “I knew that if I kept working at it (the school record) was possible. My teammates really help me out and make my job easier when they attack the basket and then kick it back out to me. They’ve been setting me up all year.
“I’m really happy that in my sophomore year I was able to reach it.”
Even though she’s 5-foot-7, McClung believes Horan has the potential to play after high school.
“She could probably play at the next level but she’s going to have to work hard,” McClung said. “Right now she’s at the small-school level, but she could be at the Division I level if she put her mind to it.”