Longhorns stay sharp in holiday tourneys
By STEVE JACKSON
The Lennard Longhorns boys’ basketball team paused for Christmas Day and for New Year’s Day, but other than those brief respites, Coach Zarko Stojakovic’s charges continued their development as a team in a positive manner compiling a 3-2 mark in two holiday tournaments to leave their worksheet at 8-5 overall and 2-3 in District 9.
Now, the Longhorns focus on District 9 play in hopes of making the playoffs once the regular season ends.
The next home game for the Longhorns is on Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. against a struggling Middleton team, which has not won yet this season, going 0-6 into its Jan. 8 match with Jesuit. Prior to the Middleton game, the Longhorns took a short trip to Bloomingdale on Jan. 8 to play another winless team, this one a District 9 game.
In non-District games, Lennard dropped a nail-biter 76-72 to Riverview in the Hernando Holiday Classic on Jan. 4. Coach Milton Clifton’s Sharks upped their season record to 9-5 with the win, and 0-3 in district.
The Longhorns trailed Riverview as much as 23 points midway the fourth quarter before making a late run at the Sharks. For Lennard, leading scorers were: Rae’Shaun Wilson 19, C.J. Peters 14, Aaron Jensen 13, Jayden Lacey 11 and Brandon Flannery 5.
The Longhorns beat Pasco County of Dade City to open the Hernando Tournament on Jan. 2. Lennard jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and cruised to the 71-30 victory, utilizing their size, skill and athleticism. “Our guys came out ready to play and had a lot of fun,” commented Stojakovic after the game. “We had a really good all-around effort from everyone.” Scoring-wise for the Longhorns, C.J. Peterson put up 17 points while Rae’Shaun Wilson netted 11, Aaron Jensen 10, and Jayden Lacey 9.
In its second game in the Hernando Tourney at Brooksville on Jan. 3, the Longhorns continued to roll, beating Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) high school of Tampa 62-42. Once again, Lennard got off to a fast start, dominating 17-5 at the end of the first quarter and 33-17 at half before clinching the 62-42 win on the neutral floor.
Between Christmas and new year, the Longhorns split a pair of games in a tournament in Arcadia. Lennard dropped the first game Dec. 28 to host DeSoto County 71-66. “We played sloppy and undisciplined,” said Stojakovic in post-game comments. Longhorn scoring was topped by Peterson with 23, Lacey 17, and Wilson with 11.
The next day in Arcadia, Lennard bounced back to beat North Port 57-49. The Horns used their speed and hustle to go up 15 in the third quarter and took advantage of North Port’s zone defense to win going away. Leading the scoring parade for Lennard, Peterson had 17, Jensen 16, Wilson 10 and Lacey 7. Aaron Jensen was named first team all-tourney. “I really give a lot of credit to our team because they care for one another and want to win and could care less who scores what,” said Stojakovic following the victory. The coach has been emphasizing “We” over “Me” all season. “That makes basketball fun,” added Stojakovic.