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2 schools face same tough road

Neither team has had reason to storm an opponent's floor.

There has been no dancing at midcourt. No silencing the home crowd. No reason to shower a coach with a Gatorade bath.

Huge road wins often spark such celebrations.

Ridgewood and Pasco are still searching for big road victories and will need them Thursday to reach the region semifinals.

Then there might be some dancing.

The Rams will travel thanks to a 66-53 loss to Wesley Chapel in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament. They will face Brandon.

The Pirates fell 56-54 in double overtime to Springstead in the 4A-8 tournament and must bus to Eustis.

Each coach wants to put a positive spin on the trip.

"Everybody would obviously like to be home this time of year," Ridgewood coach Gary Anders said. "We've been through it before. It's not easy there's no question about it. They're home for a reason. They won their district. That means they're pretty good."

The Rams (21-6) have the shorter of the treks, an hour bus ride south into Hillsborough County to face perennial power Brandon (21-6).

The Eagles held a 62-game win streak against Hillsborough County opponents that spanned three seasons, which Wharton ended in Game 2.

For most Rams, this is their first postseason experience.

The road has been rough for Ridgewood. Five of its six losses were away from home, including two of its three to Wesley Chapel.

"Every time we step on the floor the intent is to gain some valuable experience," Anders said. "I look at the playoffs as we are one of the few teams getting that opportunity. We want to make the most of it and hope it pays dividends ideally now, but certainly later."

Pasco has plenty to fear with a Eustis team ranked No. 7 in Class 4A that is determined to reach the final four.

The Panthers have been bounced from the region final in each of the past five seasons, leaving them one win shy of Lakeland.

"They just haven't gotten over the hump," Pasco coach Poncho Broner said. "That's been their big thing this year getting over the hump. We may catch them at the right time."

Broner shed some light on the Pirates' loss in the 4A-8 final.

Apparently, Darrell Davis, who scored a game-high 25, was coping with the flu.

"He missed a couple of days of practice," Broner said. "He went to the doctor to get some antibiotics. By the fourth quarter he was on fumes."

Broner expects Davis to be back to normal for Thursday's game and hopes the flu will avoid the Pirates for the rest of the season.

The season will end Thursday without a victory.

As far as traveling, Broner said it's no big deal.

"I'm not happy about it but it's part of it. The only time you're guaranteed a home game is if you win your district. Other than that you never know if you're going to be traveling.

"If you're going to Lakeland you're going to have to win it on the road anyway."

Contact Izzy Gould at (813) 909-4612 or