By STEVE JACKSON
South Shore high schools returned to classes this week. However, a new year does not mean a return to normal as the COVID-19 scourge continues to play havoc with varsity basketball activities.
Both Lennard and East Bay boys lost the opportunity to gain experience and possible wins as the new year weekend Hernando Holiday Classic in Brooksville was canceled due to the coronavirus.
Lennard is desperately seeking to return to action after a two-week quarantine just prior to Christmas break led to five games being canceled. According to Longhorns’ boys head coach, Will Gilford, all those games with the exception of Bloomingdale have been re-scheduled during January. Gilford said the contest with the Bulls may not get re-scheduled due to a lack of open dates.
Lennard’s inexperienced squad has only played 2 games thus far this season and lost both. Now, with 2021, the Horns are pressing the reset button. Big games this week include a first-ever match up Friday, Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m. with Sumner High. The senior-less Stingrays visit Lennard with a 4-6 record, pending results of early-week and mid-week games this week.
Strawberry Crest played Lennard in Ruskin in an early-week game. The Longhorns then visited Wharton at mid-week prior to this Friday’s clash with new rival Sumner. Make-up games at Lennard are set with Riverview Sharks Jan. 12 and Leto Jan. 13. A quick re-match at Riverview will be Friday, Jan. 15.
Playing out of their spanking-new venue on Balm Road, the spunky Stingrays take on two South Shore “5s” in the first week of the new year. After a visit to 1-7 Spoto Jan. 5, the Stingrays keep their bags packed as a Jan. 8 date with Lennard in Ruskin looms later this week.
Coach Milton Clifton’s Riverview Sharks also missed out on holiday tournament games. Now, the 2-3 Sharks are trying to re-schedule games missed due to COVID. Already on the agenda, a King High team rolls into the Sharks’ lair Jan. 6. The Sharks then have a big district date with Lennard at Ruskin on Jan. 12.
Coach Danny Gaddis’ Spartans have a dismal 1-7 record. Spoto, from a positive perspective, also has one of the top sophomores in the South Shore. Lanky Benjamin Walker is a scorer who can also wipe the boards and dish out assists. Spoto hosted Sumner early in the week. After a trip to Freedom at mid-week, Spoto is at home with Jefferson on Jan. 16.
East Bay is another South Shore basketball team that was scratched from hardwood action due to COVID issues at a holiday tourney. Coach Dell Chamber’s Indians travel to face Leto and Brandon this week, looking to improve a 2-4 worksheet.