WESLEY CHAPEL — Doug Greseth's emotions shift on every possession.
Losses sometimes send the Wesley Chapel coach deep into his office, where he attempts to defuse.
After Tuesday's 75-73 opening-night win against rival Land O'Lakes, he was shaking hands as if he were campaigning for mayor.
Greseth was releasing some emotion. Both teams came to the gymnasium with plenty of questions. Some went answered, but with many more games in a season that lasts into February, bagging the first win was huge.
"It's one of those years where we have so many new players I really didn't know what to expect," Greseth said. "I thought we really showed big heart tonight. I was very proud of them. They really played above my expectations."
Land O'Lakes (0-1) had one final chance with four seconds remaining. Coming out of a time out, the Gators moved the ball the length of the court where senior Jake Cannon fired a 3-pointer from the corner that fell short.
Just moments earlier, Wesley Chapel senior Tommy Roldan had given the Wildcats a two-point lead on a pair of clutch free throws. His team-high 21 points, including five in the final two minutes, put the Wildcats over the top.
"I was confident I was going to make the free throws," Roldan said. "I always made them in practice. I wasn't worried. No pressure."
The Gators were led by Max Bartels' 21 points, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Land O'Lakes had two brief leads in the first quarter, but lost the edge for good on a layup by Wildcats senior Daniel Rivera, who gave Wesley Chapel an 11-10 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Wesley Chapel (1-0) led by as many as 10 but the Gators would pull even twice, including at 73 with 35 seconds left on a free throw by senior Alex Perry.
"It's really a nice win, a good win," Greseth said. "I'm very proud."
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.