Back home Jan. 8 after East Bay, TBT losses
By STEVE JACKSON
RUSKIN — Lady Longhorns basketball coach, Jerome Mcwhorter, takes his team to Brooksville Jan. 2 for the three-day Hernando Holiday Classic during the holiday break. Mcwhorter is hoping he might find some additional scorers among the gifts in his Christmas stocking other than his two offensive stars, senior Latevia Hall and freshman Halei Murrell.
Hall and Murrell both put up decent numbers point-wise in the latest two losses sustained by the Longhorns in December, but scoring was hard to come by from the supporting cast in a pair of pre-holiday break losses.
The girls first tumbled to the Tampa Bay Tech Titans 54-24 on the road and then dropped a rivalry game to East Bay at home, 43-33. The Longhorns limp up to Brooksville with a 2-7 overall ledger, 1-4 in 8A district 9 play, barely ahead of cellar dweller Plant City and trailing in the District standings behind leader TBT as well as Strawberry Crest, Bloomingdale, Durant and East Bay.
The latest loss to coach Charles Holloway’s East Bay was competitive early, with the Longhorns trailing 21-14 at the half before the Indians jumped out to a 31-20 lead at the end of three quarters, and finally closed out the Horns 43-33. Lady Longhorns were led as usual by Hall with 15 points and Murrell with 7. Other Lennard scoring came from junior Mikaila Harrison with 5; sophomore Imani McFarland, 3; freshman Mara Johnson and Mattiana Wells with 2 and 1, respectively. Junior Hannah Feuerbach, Lennard’s top rebounder, pulled down 8 boards aided by Murrell and McFarland with 6 rebounds each. The girls actually out-rebounded East Bay with the help of Hall, 4; senior Anreya Okwuasaba, 5; and Wells, 3. However, the Longhorns registered zero assists and only 6 steals and a massive 31 turnovers.
East Bay was led by junior Janae Markes with 13 points. She got scoring support from sophomore Savannah Woods with 11 points and junior Darionna Flowers with 10 points. Senior Holly Kirk and Wood fought for 6 rebounds each to pace the Indians in that category. The Indians go into the three-day Willie Clemmons Holiday Tournament starting Dec. 27 at Southeast High, 3-5 overall and 2-3 in district. East Bay returns home in district play Jan. 8 versus Tampa Bay Tech in Gibsonton at 6:30 p.m.
Against TBT earlier in the week in Tampa, the Longhorns allowed the Titans’ size, power and skills to overpower them, according to Mcwhorter. The Longhorns only received scoring from Hall, 14; and Murrell, 10. Tech gathered 40 rebounds and Lennard managed only 17, paced by McFarland, 5; and Feuerbach, 4.
“We must keep our heads up as there’s a lot of basketball still to be played, and it’s up to us to turn things around,” said Mcwhorter after the 54-24 loss, which saw TBT leap out to a 17-3 first quarter insurmountable lead, which stretched to 46-14 at the end of the third stanza.
“All-in-all we are learning each game what it is we must do,” added Mcwhorter. “Over the break we will hit the gym hard and work on those things so we can come out the second part of the season ready to be a different team.”
After the three tourney games in Brooksville on Jan. 2, 3 and 4, the Lady Longhorns have away games at Bloomingdale on Jan. 8 and at Freedom on Jan. 9. Middleton visits Lennard on Jan. 11 for the next Longhorn home game at 6:30 p.m.