WEEKI WACHEE- The turnaround has come into full effect for Weeki Wachee’s girls’ basketball team this 2021-2022 season, as the Hornets wanted to get back to their winning ways.
It was a trying season in Year 1 for head coach Billy Hughes, who was an assistant coach under Mike Munro for multiple seasons. Weeki Wachee was 18-9 the year before Hughes took over the program but then suffered its first losing campaign since 2014-2015. Now the Hornets are back on track as one of Hernando County’s top girls’ basketball programs and things are completely turned around under Hughes’ watch.
“This season has been nothing but amazing,” Hughes said. “I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of this team. We have grown every day and battled every week. We continued to get better and better each game and it shows with accomplishing one of our huge goals at the beginning of the season, winning a district championship.”
Senior guard Princess Hester has been a driving force in why Weeki Wachee is back on the rise, as she is leading the team in points (13.6 points per game) and blocks (2.0 per game). Hester’s play isn’t the only one being noticed, as sophomore Paige Atwater has been strong for the Hornets, averaging 12.2 points per game. She pulled off a stunning 3 point shot in the last seconds of the playoff game against NCT to win the game for the Hornets by one point (29-30). Teammate Caroline McArthur has been big on the boards, with 6.5 rebounds per game and 5.6 points.
“Princess Hester has been nothing but spectacular this season,” Hughes said. “She makes everyone around her better on the court. While she is getting double and sometimes triple-teamed during games, she still continues to have great games on both sides of the floor! Sophomore Paige Atwater and senior Caroline McArthur stepped up tremendously the entire season while senior Mya Gomes was a defensive force, keeping other key offensive threats on lockdown.”
With Hernando being knocked out of postseason contention in the semifinal round of the district tournament, Weeki Wachee is the only team remaining heading into the FHSAA playoffs. The Hornets have steadily improved as the season has continued, with Weeki Wachee now set up for a first-round region quarterfinal matchup in Class 4A against St. Petersburg Lakewood (15-9). The game held at Weeki Wachee kicks off on Feb. 10 at 7 pm.
“This team is very special and continues to work every day to get better,” Hughes added. “Anything is possible with the work ethic of this team. We know every team from here on out, is outstanding and we are excited for the challenge. Only 32 teams left in 4A and WWHS is 1 of them.”
“The Weeki Wachee bounce back is amazing. It feels great. These girls deserve it and I am so happy for them. All the hard work has paid off. From starting our preseason strength and conditioning back in September and to now it being February district champs.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.