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Freedom girls soccer unmatched in talent

How good is the Freedom girls soccer team this season?

The Patriots won 10 of their first 13 matches, are undefeated in Class 4A, District 11 play and scored 17 goals in two matches last week. Take a look at their contests from Jan. 13 and Jan. 16. In the first match, the Patriots defeated Jefferson 9-0 and followed that with a 8-0 win against Tampa Bay Tech three days later.

In beating Jefferson, the Patriots were led by Jacqui Peck and Christine McClelland, each scoring twice. Against Tech, Vanessa Rangel netted a hat trick while McClelland added two more goals.

But as potent as the Freedom offense has been, the goal tending has been even better. Keeper Emily Simpson has posted nine shutouts this season, the latest coming Jan. 15 in a 2-0 win against Armwood.

The Gaither girls, meanwhile, wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament with a 2-2 tie against Wharton Jan. 13. Kari Teresi and Caitlyn Bliss scored for the Cowboys to keep them unbeaten in district play. Emily Miller and Aline Lena scored for the Wildcats, who will be the tournament's second seed.

In other girls' scores from Jan. 16, Alonso topped King 1-0, Chamberlain defeated Middleton 6-0, Leto lost to Hillsborough 3-0 and Jefferson lost to Newsome 8-0.

BOYS SOCCER: Wharton has lost only two matches this season. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, both have come against Class 5A, District 7 rival Gaither. And the 4-2 Gaither win Jan. 13 proved to be costly for Wharton. The win secured the top spot in the district tournament for Gaither while Wharton retains the second seed for the event that kicks off Feb. 2. Daniel Eugene scored both Wharton goals while Tony Bareket, Gustavo Cornejo, Jesse Crews and Richard Jackson netted the scores for Gaither.

Freedom, meanwhile, is 8-0-3 on the season after getting past Tampa Bay Tech 5-4. The Patriots trailed 3-1 after the first half but two goals each from Hector Castillo and Brian Watson lifted Freedom to the comeback win. In other scores, Alonso's Armando Romero scored the match's lone goal in a 1-0 win against King. And Gaither lost to Brandon 1-0, Chamberlain beat Middleton 4-2, Jefferson beat Newsome 3-0 and Wharton beat East Bay 4-0.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Leto senior guard Yarenis Blanco passed the 1,000-point career plateau in December as the Falcons pounded Sickles 70-49. Blanco, who came into that game needing just a point to pass 1,000, scored 40 points in the game. Blanco joins Tampa Bay Tech's Chi Chi Okpaleke in surpassing that plateau this season. Other local players to accomplish the feat include former Gaither player Elaine Evans, ex-Wharton star Candice Dupree and former Academy of Holy Names standout Danielle Darby.

Blanco has continued adding to her total and rang up 10 points Jan. 17 in the Falcons 45-40 upset loss to Freedom. Falcons teammate Sheena Kee scored 18 points as Leto dipped to 12-6 on the season. In other matches Sickles lost to Blake 54-25, Chamberlain defeated Durant 50-47 and Gaither improved to 10-4 with a 46-37 win against King.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Wharton got 12 points from Nate Erickson, all coming on three-pointers, as the Wildcats defeated Palm Harbor University 60-36 Jan. 17. In other scores, Hillsborough County-leading scorer Antonio Russell scored 23 points to lead Gaither to a 66-55 win against Alonso. Also, Chamberlain defeated Leto 55-53 and

Jefferson beat Freedom 56-54.

WRESTLING: Ian Garland was the lone local champion at the Masada Invitational meet Jan. 16 at Hernando High in Brooksville. Garland won the 132-pound individual championship while Chamberlain placed second as a team behind host Hernando.

Chamberlain improved to 14-3 in dual matches this season after defeating Wharton 69-11before the Masada tournament. Other scores included Sickles falling to Armwood 47-31, Jefferson defeating Freedom 42-37 and Leto beating Tampa Bay Tech 35-22.

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