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Sharks on a roll with versatile Freeman

Nature Coast Tech junior forward Mallory Freeman is versatile enough to play inside the paint or out on the wing.

For now, in is back in.

After returning to the post Wednesday, Freeman scored a combined 38 in two games to lead the Sharks to consecutive victories.

Freeman had 16 points and five rebounds in a 41-28 victory over Central on Wednesday and 22 points and 13 rebounds in a 53-26 win over South Sumter on Friday.

"That gave us a post presence we hadn't had all year, and it's taken a little bit of a load off our need to shoot the 3 quite as much," coach Jason Montgomery said.

Freshman guard Jessica Eberts added 12 points against Central and 11 against South Sumter, giving her double figures in four straight games.

The victory over Central gave Nature Coast (10-9) a 5-3 record in Gulf Coast Conference play, good for third place. The Sharks can tie Crystal River for second with a victory Thursday and a Pirates' loss to first-place Lecanto.

Nature Coast is second to Pasco in Class 3A, District 6 with a 4-2 mark and two games remaining. If the district tournament started today, Wildwood would be seeded third, South Sumter fourth and Hernando fifth.

With the tournament two weeks away, Nature Coast appears to be rounding into form.

"If Freeman continues to do what she's doing," Montgomery said, "we're going to be tough down the road."

HOLDING ITS OWN: Hernando gave Pasco everything it could handle in a 45-37 loss Monday. The Leopards trailed 29-18 at halftime before outscoring the Pirates 6-2 in the third quarter. Hernando, led by Leslie Young's 16 points, narrowed the gap to four but got no closer.

"If we play like we did (Monday) the rest of the season, we're going to beat some teams," said Hernando coach Pete Lahey, whose squad dropped to 3-14 and 0-7 in the district.

"We didn't turn the ball over a whole lot, and we played good defense. We just have to play that way every game."

COMPLETE GAME: Central's Rachel Ryman played her best game of the season in Friday's 56-44 loss to Leesburg. The junior center had 17 points on 40 percent (6-of-15) shooting from the floor, 11 rebounds, a steal and a block. She played tough in the paint and beat opponents to several loose balls.

"It seems like she was everywhere that game," coach Lori Lessley said.

ON TOP: Senior guard Sonia Kumar scored 20 and sophomore forward Kaitlin Sauskojus had 13 points and 20 rebounds to lead Hernando Christian Academy to a 43-10 victory over Academy at the Lakes on Jan. 20. The victory was the Lions' first after five losses.

_ FRANK PASTOR

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