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Royal Knights still in get-to-know-you stage

John Sedlack has simply gotten off to a slow start at River Ridge.

Take the basketball statistics program. He still is learning how to use it. Then there's a new locker room full of new faces, a new campus and a new life. It would have been easier sticking it out at Central where he coached for 18 seasons and was athletic director.

Now he's starting fresh, implementing an old-school style and an old-school mentality.

"I still see a lot of blank looks," Sedlack said. "We're playing hard."

That's part of the reason the Royal Knights were 1-3 before Thursday's game against Zephyrhills, including their only conference loss to Land O'Lakes on Tuesday, 72-58. The other losses were to Crystal River (59-54) and Cavalry Christian (60-39). The win came against Fort Myers Baker (48-44).

Of course, most of last year's team has been replaced with a bunch of kids with little if any varsity experience. Jeremy Bilancione and James Swanson are the only two guys to get minutes last season.

"They weren't really counted on last year," Sedlack said. "It's going to take a while, but it's going to come. It's going to be a process. I hope no one expected me to come in here in one year and work miracles."

REED'S RETURN: Zephyrhills basketball coach Alan Reed also is coping with a bench limited on experience. He wishes he had more practice days to teach, but a schedule often loaded with up to three games a week has limited practice time.

"We won't practice again until Monday," Reed said. "When you're young like we are that's a tough situation."

Reed has four seniors with varsity experience and a handful of kids trying to step up. Before Thursday's game against River Ridge, the Bulldogs were 1-1 with a win over South Sumter and a loss to Hernando.

"The kids have been great so far as far as making the commitment," Reed said. "We seem to be offensively challenged."

What Reed means is the Bulldogs simply miss a ton of shots. In a preseason classic Zephyrhills was 16-of-18 from the free-throw line. In the South Sumter victory, foul shooting nose-dived to 6-of-15 in a four-point victory. Then in the loss to Hernando, the Bulldogs made 8 of 17 free throws in a 15-point loss.

"We're struggling to score points," Reed said. "Our offensive execution has not been bad we just have trouble putting the ball in the basket."

MAKEOVER GULF STYLE: Gulf soccer coach Joe Lampkin thinks he has the Buccaneers figured out. Now the first-year coach is ready to prove it to the rest of his district.

After a sluggish start the Bucs (3-3-1) changed their formation and now are enjoying better results. The change came after a crushing loss to Mitchell.

"We got our clock cleaned by Mitchell," Lampkin said. "But we gave Pasco a game. We look forward to playing (Pasco) again."

Gulf lost 2-1 to the Pirates on Nov. 21. The Bucs went from playing a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3.

"Since we switched based on our personnel, we're very competitive now," Lampkin said. "I think the second half of the season's going to be real interesting."

GATOR BAIT: One of the bigger boys soccer matchups of the season is coming Monday night when Land O'Lakes hosts Mitchell. The Gators (9-1) are coming off a 4-1 win at Wesley Chapel on Wednesday. Land O'Lakes senior Louis Falcon has been the dominant player early with 11 goals and six assists. Sophomore Dominic Cutrofello is up to seven goals with four assists. Goalkeeper Alex Spock has 42 saves in eight games with three shutouts.

Mitchell was 6-4-1 before Thursday's game at St. Petersburg. One common measuring stick could be defending Class 6A champ Countryside. The Gators lost 4-0 to Countryside last Friday in the Puma Challenge. The Mustangs played Countryside this week and fell 3-1.

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@sptimes.com or (727) 580-5315.

Up next:Obituaries

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