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Competition should improve with matchups in new districts

The Florida High School Activities Association announced its new boys and girls basketball districts Monday night, and it brings county teams some new opponents and some new regions.

But what coaches might be happiest about is it brings no new changes for two years, or so the FHSAA promises.

"I like just having the new districts for two years," said Land O'Lakes coach Dave Puhalski. "They say they're not going to change for two years, which is nice since they've been changing every year the last few."

The nine Pasco schools have been placed in two districts _ Class 4A, District 8 and Class 3A, District 10 _ that appear to provide a more competitive setting than in recent years.

Mitchell, for example, no longer has to make the trip to Hillsborough or Pinellas counties to take on the likes of Clearwater Central Catholic or Tampa Catholic. Instead, it will be in 4A-8 with west side brethren Ridgewood, River Ridge, Gulf and Hudson. Joining those schools will be Land O'Lakes and Tarpon Springs.

Puhalski said the Gators might still play some Pinellas and Hillsborough schools, but he can now work on scheduling Gaither and Wharton, which are the closest out-of-county schools.

Meanwhile, district 3A-10 places Pasco, Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel together for the first time. They will be joined by Polk County schools Bartow and Mulberry.

Last year, the Wildcats endured the same long trips Mitchell did in their primarily Hillsborough and Pinellas district, and Pasco and Zephyrhills played in a district with Hernando County schools Central, Hernando and Springstead, as well as Hudson and Tarpon Springs.

That seven-team district, Zephyrhills coach Tom O'Donnell said, made scheduling more difficult than he expects next year's five-team district to.

"And it gives us some new faces to play," O'Donnell said. "That's always nice."