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No time for rest, relaxation

While most of their classmates were enjoying their Saturday, Nature Coast was studying game tape from its Friday night win over Gulf.

Sure, it was the first time the Sharks had defeated Gulf, but this wasn't a feel-good film session. It was an opportunity to learn.

When it comes to basketball, the Sharks are serious.

They work six days a week, whether in practice or film sessions. Their playbook features more than 25 offensive sets, and the Sharks tried to implement 80 percent of them by the first game. Working out the kinks could mean an early loss for the Sharks - it hasn't so far - but the idea is that it will pay off in the postseason.

The Sharks (5-0 overall and in Class 4A-8) aren't immune to fun though, and an occasional joke would escape during the play, pause and rewinding on Saturday. The team, which returned all of its starters and then some with varsity experience from last season, is closer this year. That means an extra year of X's and O's knowledge. It also means the players are more comfortable to freelance every now and again.

On Saturday, coach Jason Montgomery zeroed in on problems with the Sharks' 2-2-1 press. Nature Coast used it for the first time last Friday.

"We had some rotation problems in that," Montgomery said. "And we had some issues in our zone and getting out on shooters."

There was plenty the Sharks did right - the effort and intensity was there and rebounding keeps improving.

But the Sharks, who finish the first half of district play this week, are too focused to get wrapped up in celebrating their achievements.

After all, there are offensive sets to fine tune. The Sharks, who are dominating district play, use each game as a chance to perfect their playbook.

"It gives us constant improvement," Montgomery said. "Whereas someone who might do two or three different things and be real good at them early in the year, they tend to plateau. Now we're starting to get into the nitty-gritty stuff."

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or (352) 544-9480.

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