Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Girls basketball district preview: Wiregrass Ranch has top seed but Gulf and Nature Coast make 4A-8 interesting

At the high school level, most district basketball tournaments are easier to forecast than the weather pattern of Antarctica. After a full season of play, the premier teams are established and the weaker ones exposed, making the district tournament something of a formality. Hence the reason this week's Class 4A, District 8 girls tournament is such a breath of fresh air. The top three seeds — Wiregrass Ranch, Gulf and Nature Coast, respectively — all have legitimate chances of winning. "It's a coin flip," Bucs coach Mike Quarto said. Wiregrass Ranch has twice defeated Nature Coast, which split with Gulf, which split with Wiregrass. Get the picture? It's a portrait of parity. "It's the most balanced our district has been," Sharks coach Travis Lamle said. "It's the fourth year of it, and it's always been us and Gulf in the finals. This is the first year that's not going to happen." A closer look at the top three seeds:

No. 1 Wiregrass Ranch (20-4)

Why the Bulls could win: Because solid guard play wins championships, and the Bulls boast a talented backcourt by committee. They swept Nature Coast in the regular season and split with Gulf.

Why the Bulls could be the odd team out: Because they've struggled a bit lately, winning only four of their past seven. An 18-point loss to Ridgewood on Wednesday isn't the kind of effort you want as the district tournament nears.

Biggest concern: Post play. Gulf had a 25-11 advantage on boards in the Bucs' 46-41 win Jan. 15.

No. 2 Gulf (21-4)

Why the Bucs could win: They've got the momentum of a five-game win streak and have proved on any given night they can beat anyone around. Gulf fell to Wiregrass Ranch and Nature Coast on the road, but avenged both defeats in the rematches at home.

Why the Bucs could be the odd team out: In their only previous game at Nature Coast, the Sharks suffocated prolific Bucs guard Nicole Adams (13 points, two field goals) en route to a 51-40 triumph. Guess who the Bucs are almost certain to play in the semifinals?

Biggest concern: That likely semifinal against the Sharks. "We got after it on the boards and played our tempo (in the rematch, a 52-41 triumph), and that's what we're going to have to do at their place," Quarto said.

No. 3 Nature Coast (18-6)

Why the Sharks could win: They've already defeated Gulf — their likely semifinal opponent — on their home floor, and had Wiregrass Ranch on the ropes in the same building. In a 47-43 loss to the Bulls on Dec. 19, the Sharks led by 10 at halftime before a controversial foul and momentary loss of composure shifted the momentum. In the rematch at Gulf, an 11-point loss, Nature Coast was missing two key players.

Why the Sharks could be the odd team out: Because, coach Travis Lamle says, Gulf is the hardest matchup for them. Lamle is concerned about the inside-outside tandem of point guard Nicole Adams and center Kianna Mills.

Biggest concern: Rustiness. "We won't have played a game in almost nine or 10 days when we play Hudson (in Wednesday's quarterfinals)," Lamle said, "which I guess could be a pro and a con. But we're ready to go out there and get after it."

District schedules
6A-7 at

Wednesday: Mitchell (4) vs. Gaither (5), 6 p.m.; Countryside (3) vs. Alonso (6), 8; Friday: Sickles (2) vs. Countryside/Alonso winner, 6; St. Petersburg (1) vs. Mitchell/Gaither winner, 8; Saturday: final, 7.
5A-7 at


Wednesday: River Ridge (4) vs. Central (5), 7 p.m.; Friday: Ridgewood (2) vs. Land O'Lakes (3), 6; Wesley Chapel (1) vs. River Ridge/Central winner, 7:45;

Saturday: final, 7.
4A-8 at


Monday: Springstead (8) vs. Sunlake (9), 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Gulf (2) vs. Zephyrhills (7), 5:30; Wiregrass Ranch (1) vs. Springstead/Sunlake winner, 7:30; Wednesday: Hernando (4) vs. Pasco (5), 5:30; Nature Coast (3) vs. Hudson (6), 7:30; Friday: Gulf/Zephyrhills winner vs. Nature Coast/Hudson winner, TBD*; Wiregrass/Springstead/Sunlake winner vs. Hernando/Pasco winner, TBD*; Saturday: final, 7.

*If Nature Coast wins Wednesday, it plays the 7:30 p.m. game Friday. The other semifinal starts at 5:30.

2A-9 at

Tampa Prep
Thursday: Tampa Prep (2) vs. Bishop McLaughlin (3), 6 p.m.; Indian Rocks Christian (1) vs. Calvary Christian (4), 7:30; Friday: final, 7.
A-11 at


Lakeside Christian
Tuesday: Canterbury vs. Oldsmar Christian, 5 p.m.; Thursday: Academy at the Lakes vs. Lakeside Christian, 5; Citrus Park Christian vs. Canterbury/Oldsmar winner, 7; Saturday: final, 7.

Girls basketball district preview: Wiregrass Ranch has top seed but Gulf and Nature Coast make 4A-8 interesting 01/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned


    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]