by AUSTYN SZEMPRUCH
Weeki Wachee Hornets Girls Varsity Basketball (2-0) took down the Cypress Creek Coyotes (0-1) at home on Wednesday night by a final score of 57-35. With the Coyotes coming off a disappointing 5-15 (0-7 district) campaign last season, they were looking to start off on the right foot. That would prove to be a tall order against a Hornets squad that was on the heels of a 20-8 (8-1 district) season. Weeki Wachee had already opened their schedule two nights prior with a 69-21 shellacking of the Hudson Cobras at the Hornets’ Nest as well. The home team seemed to be up to the challenge again as they started fast and kept up the pace. Hornets Head Coach Billy Hughes mentioned that the team may not always get off to the quickest of starts, but he was pleased with the evening’s result.
“They played pretty well all four quarters,” Coach Hughes said. “They always come ready to play. Sometimes they have slower starts, but tonight we started off pretty good with our energy level and we continued throughout the game. So, I’m just proud of the performance, hard work every day.”
While the Hornets had the lead for much of the first quarter – and the rest of the night for that matter – the Coyotes drew first blood. In the opening minutes, number 11 Senior Adriana Villanueva for Cypress Creek was fouled during her shot. She would make one and miss the other. Number 12 Junior Sadie Walker for the Coyotes, who would finish with 15 points, took a pass on the next possession and knocked down a two-point shot to extend Cypress’ only lead of the night to three. After that, it was nearly all Hornets. A layup by Junior Linsey Orr a couple of possessions later would get the scoring started for the home team, and back-to-back threes by Junior Paige Atwater would immediately put the Hornets in control 8-3 midway through the first quarter. Atwater would log her third trey of the period to put the home team up 10 and they were off to the races. Coach Hughes’ squad created these opportunities for themselves by being aggressive and nabbing a bevy of rebounds and timely steals.
“Every day we focus on [rebounds], even though we’re a tall team,” Coach Hughes said. “Doesn’t matter, still need to rebound. Got to be physical inside and rebounds all come down to effort and attitude, you know? You got to want it. You got to want it. It’s up there to grab it. It’s a freebie, right? So, I just tell them just to dominate, just keep jumping, keep boxing out, and keep being physical.”
Once the Coyotes trailed by double digits, the home team never let them come closer than a brief eight-point deficit late in the second frame. Coming into quarter number two, Orr and Atwater kept things rolling with shots from downtown. This gave the home team a commanding 25-10 lead. The teams would eventually reach the half with the scoreboard reading 36-21. The Hornets went on to outscore the visitors 21-14 in the second half as well en route to a 20-point game for Atwater. Not to be outdone, other players for the Hornets such as Orr and Sophomore Rayana Coleman also provided key scores, steals, and rebounds when the team needed plays to maintain their comfortable lead.
“Everyone played extremely well,” Coach Hughes said. “It was a great team effort tonight all across the board from the first one to the last one. Everyone just keep rocking and rolling. Every game there’s always one that stands out, but tonight it was just an incredible team effort.”
Cypress Creek’s next matchup will be with the Zephyrhills Bulldogs (1-0) on Thursday night. Next up for Weeki Wachee is an away matchup with the Lecanto Panthers (0-1) on Friday night. The Panthers will face off against Meadowbrook Academy (1-1) on Thursday before their home tilt with the traveling Hornets.