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Sharks tow the line in practice

The good news for Nature Coast coach Jason Montgomery is that opponents are shooting just 30 percent from the free-throw line this season.

The bad news? The Sharks are shooting just 29.5 percent.

With a game against Gulf, which Nature Coast has never beaten, on Friday night, Montgomery knows his team must quickly rectify its struggles from the foul line. The Sharks are spending extra time working on their shots in practice this week, with the threat of wind sprints looming over their heads.

"The first thing we're doing (in practice) is running for all the misses we had last night," Montgomery said after his team again struggled to hit its free throws in a win over Pasco.

The coach is convinced the problem is more mental than technical. For example, sophomore Shareka Maner, normally a 60 percent foul shooter, has hit just 28.6 percent of her attempts this season. "I can't put a finger on it," Montgomery said. "These are the same kids as last year."

CENTRAL: The fact that Central won its first four regular-season games didn't surprise coach Penny Gressick. In fact, it's the Bears' two losses that have thrown her for a loop. Central has dropped back-to-back games to fall to 4-2. Against Ridgewood, it was outscored 29-3 to open the third quarter. Against Land O'Lakes, it was outscored 18-6 to open the game.

"We didn't have any offensive lapses in the first four games," Gressick said.

She doesn't seem too concerned, and Ronisha Browdy is a big reason why. The junior guard is averaging 22 points, highlighted by a 27-point performance against Crystal River.

Last year, Browdy relied mostly on her pinpoint 3-point shooting. This year, she has added more dimensions to her game. "I wouldn't say her shot has gotten better," Gressick said. "It's pretty much the same it's been, but it's more along the line of her having more options, taking it off the dribble, penetrating to the basket more."

HERNANDO, SPRINGSTEAD BUILDING: Nobody expected Hernando or Springstead to compete for county or district championships this season, and if the first four games are any indication, that thinking will prove correct.

But when the teams squared off last week, it provided a good opportunity to get a look at a couple of teams in a building mode. Hernando built a big first-half lead, but Springstead rallied to within six in the second half.

"These kids work harder than last year's kids," Hernando coach Walt Cermak said. "We're not senior loaded like we were last year, so there is a ray of hope."

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1407.

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