WESLEY CHAPEL — With a large crowd following Wiregrass Ranch for its highly anticipated matchup versus intown rival Wesley Chapel on Thursday, the pregame hype and back-and-forth jaw-jabbing between fans gave the assumption of a great game approaching.
But the hype was short-lived.
Wesley Chapel left no doubt, cruising to a 78-57 romp of Wiregrass Ranch behind Shantel Houston's 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
"We knew they wanted to get us," Houston said.
"They wanted it bad, but I think we wanted it more. I don't know what it was, but I wanted it real bad."
Wesley Chapel used a balanced attack featuring Houston, Abbey Kaczmarek (16 points), Andrea Maguer (13) and Hannah Noble (12).
It also made 21 of 25 free throws, a huge improvement from the 4-of-19 effort in a 47-37 loss to Gulf on Dec. 3
"We have been working a lot on our free throws daily," Wildcats coach Karim Nohra said.
The Bulls trailed 39-23 with 57 seconds before halftime when guard Sara Wash appeared to make a basket and get fouled. But the referees gathered and concluded the foul came before the shot and Wash would shoot one-and-one. That drew a technical foul against Bulls coach Greg Finkel. Wash made one free throw, but Noble made one for the Wildcats to keep it a 16-point game.
Wiregrass drew no closer than 12 points from there and shot just 4-of-11 from the free-throw line. Julie Gould led the Bulls with 20 points.
"We sort of took ourselves out of the ballgame a little bit," Finkel said.
"A lot of calls did not go our way. And when you have four girls foul out, there is something wrong."