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North Suncoast girls basketball preview

Nicole Adams, a two-time Times North Suncoast Player of the Year, leads a Gulf team with high potential.


Nicole Adams, a two-time Times North Suncoast Player of the Year, leads a Gulf team with high potential.

The one constant in North Suncoast girls basketball this season? There are no constants. With so many players switching schools, it's hard to tell which team is which anymore. The rosters of North Suncoast schools resemble a giant lottery tank: Write a name on a pingpong ball, stick it in the tank and see what name pops up.

Wesley Chapel, a region finalist a year ago, lost nearly its entire starting lineup to transfer. And coach Karim Nohra, who needs just nine wins to reach 400 for his career, is now at Academy at the Lakes.

Wiregrass Ranch and Land O'Lakes benefited the most from the changes. The Bulls were district runnerup last season and now look to challenge for the region title. The Gators finished with a losing record last season but now are one of the favorites in the region's top district.

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of North Suncoast girls basketball, where the faces stay the same, just the name on the front of the jersey changes.

One player who hasn't switched teams, however, is Gulf senior Nicole Adams.

With the Buccaneers stacked at every position, the two-time Times North Suncoast Player of the Year is ready to lead them deep into the postseason.

"She ball handles well," Gulf coach Mike Quarto said. "She scores well for us.

"Her defense has improved, and her speed has really improved in the last year."

The Buccaneers feature a four-guard look — Adams, Leighlani Paselio, Lexi Schulman and Hannah Kotzen — and can play an up-tempo style that likes to get out in transition or slow it down to a possession game.

They're probably the best ball handling team Quatro has ever put out on the court.

And aided by 5-foot-11 Mitchell transfer Cait Corbitt and freshman dynamo Kayla Kivinski, the Buccaneers have one of the most complete teams around.

That's about the only thing still the same.

Mark your calendar

Tuesday: Central at Wiregrass Ranch

Nov. 23: Mitchell at Gulf

Nov. 26-27: Gulf Thanksgiving Tournament

Dec. 1: Wiregrass Ranch at Nature Coast

Dec. 8: Central at Nature Coast

Dec. 28-29: Academy at the Lakes Christmas Tournament

Dec. 28-29: Zephyrhills Christmas Tournament

Dec. 28-30: Hernando Holiday Tournament

Jan. 4: Gulf at Wiregrass Ranch

Jan. 7: Citrus at Wiregrass Ranch

Jan. 14: Wiregrass Ranch at Land O'Lakes

Players to watch

G Nicole Adams, Sr., Gulf: The most complete player on the North Suncoast.

G Simone Brown, So., Land O'Lakes: Strong offensive and defensive player was a standout for Wesley Chapel last season.

G McKenzie Burns, Sr., Central: A smooth distributor and excellent scorer for a talented Bears team.

G Briahanna Jackson, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Lecanto transfer can score, pass and defend at the point.

G Brittany Johnson, Sr., Nature Coast: Speedster has improved her scoring ability and can handle the ball in traffic.

G Jeileen Mas, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Wesley Chapel transfer can stroke it from the perimeter.

G Natasha Morris, Jr., Ridgewood: Rams' leading scorer last season can fill up a stat sheet with her ability to pass, steal and rebound.

G Hannah Noble, Sr., Wesley Chapel: Three-point sharpshooter is the lone holdover from the Wildcats' region final squad.

G Leighlani Paselio, Jr., Gulf: Multidimensional player can get points inside or on the perimeter.

G Jennifer Patria, Sr., Zephyrhills: Bulldogs' leader in points, steals and assists two seasons ago is back after a torn ACL derailed her junior year.

G Shanel Sweet, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Point guard with solid handle transferred from Gaither via Wesley Chapel.

F Alexis Helfand, Sr., Nature Coast: Has great size and can score from anywhere.

F Nia Henderson, Sr., Pasco: Prolific scorer and rebounder missed most of last season with a broken finger.

F Kelly McCaffrey, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch: An all-North Suncoast first-teamer last season is the Bulls' leading returning scorer.

C Courtney Crawford, Jr., Hernando: Hernando Christian transfer is capable of a double double every night.

C Raqurra Ishmar, Sr., Central: Scored 20 points and snagged more than 10 rebounds a game as a junior.

C Nicole Woodward, Sr., Land O'Lakes: High-flying defender will be out until early December with a broken knuckle.

North Suncoast Fab Five

1. Gulf: The Buccaneers have serious state tournament potential.

2. Wiregrass Ranch: An already loaded team that benefited from an influx of talent.

3. Central: The Bears will be gunning for their first district title.

4. Land O'Lakes: First-year coach Laurie Tyszko inherits a star-studded lineup thanks to a couple of high-profile transfers.

5. Nature Coast: The Sharks are a playoff-caliber team but will have trouble getting there in a strong district.


Class 5A, District 7

Teams: Central, Ocala Forest, Springstead, Ocala West Port

Outlook: West Port is the reigning district champion. But with seniors Raqurra Ishmar, McKenzie Burns and Tikiera Relaford returning, Central is the team to beat.

Class 4A, District 7

Teams: Fivay, Gulf, Hudson, Pasco, Mitchell, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel

Outlook: It would be a major upset for Gulf not to win the district. The Buccaneers' toughest challenge likely will come from Mitchell and Ridgewood.

Class 4A, District 8

Teams: Citrus, Hernando, Land O'Lakes, Lecanto, Nature Coast, River Ridge, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch, Zephyrhills

Outlook: Wiregrass Ranch, Citrus and Land O'Lakes are the favorites. But Hernando, Lecanto, Nature Coast and Zephyrhills could be factors in the area's toughest district from top to bottom.

Class 2A, District 10

Teams: Bishop McLaughlin, Brooks-DeBartolo, Calvary Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep

Outlook: Defending district champion Indian Rocks Christian graduated just one senior and is the overwhelming favorite.

Class A, District 9

Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Cambridge, Canterbury, Keswick Christian, Lakeside Christian, Tampa Bay Christian

Outlook: Keswick Christian won the district a year ago and returns most of its team as does runnerup Cambridge. Keep an eye on Academy at the Lakes, which went winless a year ago but will be a factor with Karim Nohra now at the helm.

North Suncoast girls basketball preview 11/14/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 14, 2010 6:12pm]
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