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Coach: Bears will put their best foot forward

Central coach Hank Deslaurier thinks he had the unluckiest team in the land last winter, and that necessarily wasn't a bad thing.

Six of the Bears' 10 losses were by one goal, but the squad was in a transition year with its first-time girls coach.

A little more settled in Deslaurier's ball-possession system and a lot more experienced with nine starters back, Central appears ready for a run at the Class 3A, District 7 title.

"There's not a team in there I'm afraid of," Deslaurier said of Leesburg, Ridgewood, Springstead and Mitchell. "We should be right in there with them."

Springstead may not be so lucky as the antithesis of Central this season.

Under first-year coach Randy Strat, the Eagles lost seven starters from 2000-2001, including forwards Amie Farrell and Nicole Bernhardt.

Strat said history may be as tough a foe as inexperience.

"The biggest problem is we were second in the district last year and the year before we won it," Strat said.

"It's difficult to come in when you have a team that's been on a winning spree and you play worse than people expect," he said. "Anything less than second and people are going to be disappointed."

That emotion came in reams last season at Hernando, where the Leopards slumped to 1-11-4. They're in for more change with the graduation of top players Kim Bowers, Dana Drake and Tina Frazier.

Coach Rick Ahrens is hoping the Leopards integrate quickly.

"If we accomplish that, we can be successful and wins will come," Ahrens said.

"We have no (Springstead alum) Angie DeAngelis or (Central alum) Brooke Szabo _ none of those type of players. If we work as one, we can be successful."

Staff writer Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, Ext. 1407. Send e-mail to brantsptimes.com.

GIRLS DISTRICT

ASSIGNMENTS CLASS 3A-7: Central, Leesburg, Mitchell, Ridgewood, Springstead.

CLASS 2A-7: Citrus, Crystal River, Hernando, Lecanto, North Marion.

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