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Meneely spreads the word well

Springstead coach Bill Meneely has been telling his team all season it needed more than one player to score. After 15 games, it seems the message finally is getting through.

With leading scorer Linda Rowe on the bench with foul trouble, Catherine Gajdusek and Kalyn Butler stepped into the breach and led Springstead to a 36-34 overtime win Friday at Central.

The victory was the Eagles' first in Class 4A, District 9 and marked the first time in recent memory Springstead (3-12) has beaten Central and Hernando in the same season.

"I'm not a coach who likes the star system," Meneely said. "I don't believe in MVPs, because it takes five, six or seven or whatever you play to make a team.

"We've been working to (Rowe) all year long for offense. You can see it in our stats. Now that she wasn't there, we had to look to somebody else."

That Gajdusek, who scored 23, including a free throw to force overtime and the winning basket with six seconds remaining in the extra period. The senior center scored out of the post, on putbacks and free throws, and added five blocks.

Butler, a senior forward, scored seven points and assisted on Gajdusek's winning basket. Rowe finished with six points and five assists before fouling out.

The game was delayed for about an hour after coaches feared Springstead's Ashley Liberatore sustained a back injury. The injury turned out to be a bruised tailbone.

BIG WEEK: After beating Hernando and losing to Crystal River last week, Nature Coast Tech (8-8) embarks on an important week of district and conference play.

Over a four-day span starting today, the Sharks play district games against Pasco and South Sumter and a conference contest against Central. Pasco leads Class 4A, District 9 with a 5-0 record, 1{ games ahead of Nature Coast (3-1). South Sumter would be the Sharks' district semifinal opponent if the season ended today.

To succeed, Nature Coast coach Jason Montgomery said his team will have to improve its recent play.

"Everything is going to improve for us, but any given night it's something different," he said. "We had some problems rebounding over the holidays, and we got that in check. We're not shooting the ball as well as we should. We're improving defensively, though, so hopefully that will be a benefit for us in the long run."

HELPING HAND: Sophomore guard Noemi Rivera has been a bright spot for struggling Central (3-12) with 31 rebounds during a recent two-game span. After having double-digit rebound totals the past five games, including a team season high of 16, Rivera increased her average from seven to 10.

"She's always been like that, but lately she's really focused on the rebounds," coach Lori Lessley said. "She's really come on."

_ FRANK PASTOR

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