Audra Leipold, Academy at the Lakes
Since joining the Wildcats' varsity basketball team as an eighth grader, Audra Leipold immediately became the team's top scoring threat. She helped Academy at the Lakes to a state tournament appearance last season, and now in her freshman year the Wildcats are 27-1 and back in the Class 2A state semifinals.
Leipold has played in 54 games for Academy at the Lakes in two seasons, and she eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career Feb. 5 against Canterbury. That's an average of almost 20 points per game.
"That was a very exciting night for me," Leipold said. "It was a lot of fun."
In order for the fun to continue, Leipold knows she must remain the team's leading scoring threat.
And even though the Wildcats do not have a deep varsity roster, her teammates will play a key role in the final four.
"We're doing kind of what I thought we would," Leipold said. "We only have eight players so all of us have to work extra hard when we're playing. The whole team has really stepped up."
Why she won: Leipold scored 26 points in a 72-25 win over Canterbury in the Class 2A region quarterfinals. In that game, she surpassed 1,000 points in her young prep career.
Derek Webster, Seffner Christian
Derek Webster hates to lose.
So in the days leading up to Seffner Christian's district basketball semifinal with Brooks DeBartolo recently, the sophomore forward approached coach Sam Moorer so they could talk about the matchup.
The Crusaders had lost to the Phoenix in the last five games they played — three times last season and twice this season — and Webster wasn't about to let it happen again.
"He initiated countless conversations with me, wondering what the game plan is, what we were going to do differently," Moorer said. "I involve my guys. It makes them excited about what we're doing."
Webster's curiosity paid off. The 6-foot-5 team captain went off in the game Feb. 6, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds as the Crusaders ended the streak and beat Brooks DeBartolo 68-63.
"He's a competitor. He hates to lose at anything, in practice, whatever it is," Moorer said. "His competitive spirit has vaulted him into a leadership role on the team. He's definitely the heart and soul of our defense."
Why he won: Webster's performance helped the Crusaders win the 3A-7 district semifinal, marking the first time they had beaten the Phoenix in two seasons.