BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast hadn't lost to a North Suncoast team all season, until Wiregrass Ranch stunned the Sharks in the Class 4A, District 8 championship Saturday night.
The Bulls stuck to their game plan and fended off Nature Coast in front of its home crowd 59-52 to win their first district title.
Nature Coast (25-3), which had only dropped games to Winter Park and Walton (Ga.) this season, took control in the first half. With Tyler Bergantino manning the paint, Wiregrass Ranch (21-7) had issues attacking the lane.
Even with his presence, Bulls coach Jeremy Calzone continued to play the opposing center one-on-one with Michael Chase. Considering that almost every team the Sharks have faced this year has done otherwise, the decision was surprising. Even more surprising was the result.
Chase held his own after some success in the second quarter. He began to find a groove offensively and ended up having similar statistics to his counterpart. Chase finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while Bergantino had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
"Michael Chase was the MVP of this game by far," Calzone said. "He kept us in the game, and he showed his senior leadership."
Nature Coast led 26-21 at the half, but Wiregrass Ranch began to show signs of life in the second half after confidence built in the huddle. The backcourt of James Tringali (12 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals) and Antwan Prince (17 points, five rebounds, three assists) shifted momentum for the visiting Bulls.
Down the stretch, Nature Coast's Donovan Ingram hit a free throw with 1:36 remaining to give the Sharks a 52-51 advantage. That would be the last lead and points the top seed would score.
Starting with a layup from Tringali, Wiregrass Ranch rolled off an 8-0 run to clinch the crown.