By Steve Jackson
Coach Zarko Stojakovich’s Longhorns were blown out in their own gym last Friday by 8A District 9 leaders Plant City 72-42.
A small home crowd witnessed the domination by the visitors from warm-ups to the final horn. Coach Billy Teeden’s Raiders showed why they are the early-season favorites and the class of District 9, combining a bigger and faster squad on paper into a dynamic whirlwind on the court. Plant City overwhelmed Lennard from outside the arc and inside the paint to go up in the first quarter 24-12. Lennard could not match the Raiders physically and fell behind 70-34 by the end of the third quarter when, mercifully, Teeden called off the dogs, namely senior Justyn King and senior Jadyn Strawder, 6-7 and 6-5 respectively.
The loss dropped the Longhorns, momentarily, to 1-2 in district play with big conference games against Tampa Bay Tech Dec. 11 and against arch-rival East Bay Friday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. East Bay registered its first district win against Bloomingdale 47-42 last Friday.
Stojakovich’s Longhorns displayed their resiliency, however, by bouncing back Dec. 8 at The Villages tournament, beating South Sumter in a nail-biter 54-52 on a buzzer-beater by RaeShan Wilson to go 4-2 on the season overall. The two district games this week will set the tone for the Longhorns’ district standings. On Dec. 29, Lennard hosts DeSoto County and North Port for a pair of non-conference holiday games. District play resumes on Jan. 8 at Bloomingdale and at home on Jan. 11 with Middleton.