Cougars on hunt for postseason girls basketball victory

PLANT CITY — Taylor Broadnax has run the gamut at Durant.

She has seen the bad, like a freshman season that turned out 4-13. She has seen the good, like this year's 15-4 team. And last year, as the district runnersup, Broadnax and the Cougars reached the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

But there is one glaring omission on the senior's resume: a postseason victory.

Broadnax and the Cougars will have a chance to chase a postseason win if they can navigate their way through next week's 5A-8 district tournament at Durant.

"It's a tough district," coach Kyla Donlevy said. "It's going to take a lot to get through."

That's because 5A-8 is one of the stingiest districts in the county, featuring Riverview, Tampa Bay Tech and the Cougars. If things play out as expected, TBT and Durant will meet in the all-important semifinal game for the right to advance to the playoffs.

"Tech is a really tough team," Broadnax said. "We're going to have to all play our best."

Durant and TBT played an overtime thriller in the team's first meeting, a two-point Titan victory Dec. 13. But the Cougars returned the favor Jan. 16, beating Tech 57-52 in the Titans' gym.

"When we beat them at their house, everyone stepped up," Broadnax said. "We got great effort from our leaders."

Count Broadnax as one of those.

"She runs everything," Donlevy said. "I'm really going to miss her next year."

Broadnax, who plays the point, embraces her role as team leader and said her style "is to lead by hard work and example."

"I don't yell and scream because I don't think that gets the job done," she said.

Broadnax and the other four starters — Eryka Williams along with twins Asia and Ashley Nelson and sister Akacia — have something special.

"The starting five has been playing together since the sixth grade," Broadnax said. "Sometimes it feels like we're just on a different level than the teams we're playing against."

Broadnax leads the Cougars at 14.3 points per game, followed by Williams at 12.4. Williams poured in a season-high 27 in the first meeting with Tech.

"Eryka does it all for us," Donlevy said.

Then you have the Nelson sisters: Asia and Ashley provide range while Akacia is a presence in the paint.

"Akacia is a dominant post player," Donlevy said.

But as expected, having three sisters at practice — let alone in a game — at the same time can be interesting.

"It's crazy," Donlevy said with a chuckle. "They go at each other some times but they always have each other's back. If one gets fouled hard, the others are ready to get out there and kick some butt."

Cougars on hunt for postseason girls basketball victory 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:30am]

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