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. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.