RIVERVIEW — Riverview coach Lelani Gordon has seen the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows this season.
Before the season, Riverview lost low-post presences Justina James and Jessica Causey to transfer. But then Gordon got news that heralded guard Tesha Hanson, who led Seffner Christian to the final four, would be joining the Sharks as a transfer. But just as things were taking shape, the Sharks lost two key players — Monet Williams and Madison Greany — to season-ending injuries over a two-week stretch.
"It's been quite a ride," Gordon said.
Greany broke her left arm in three places after a nasty spill during a holiday tournament and Williams, whom Gordon called "the heart and soul of the team," tore her ACL.
"The team got the news about Monet right before we lost (61-56) to (Tampa Bay) Tech," Gordon said. "They were devastated."
What the Sharks do have is arguably the best one-two combination in the county with Hanson and Faith Woodard. Both average more than 18 points per game and the juniors have drawn the attention of national recruits.
"Tesha and Faith were good friends before she transferred, so that made it smoother for her," Gordon said. "It took some time for all of us to get to know her and her game, but I think she is playing her best basketball of the season right now."
Gordon said the pair have picked up their games in Williams and Greany's absence.
"The two of them have been averaging about 50 points combined over the last five or six games," Gordon said. "They have been huge when we needed them."
Gordon got some good news when Riverview recently welcomed back Kiera Haywood, who was out since the beginning of the season with a dislocated kneecap. And even though this isn't the roster she envisioned before the year began, Gordon thinks Riverview, a team that lost by two points in the 5A region finals last year, can make a deep playoff run.
"We're missing some players," she said. "But I think this team plays better with the underdog mentality. It works for us."
Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.