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Mcrae and Buffaloes Stampede Hornets

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The Villages Charter Buffaloes defeated the Weeki Wachee Hornets by a 51-35 margin at Winding Waters Gymnasium on Thursday night. The visitors used a dominant first quarter to create separation before the home team got going after the half. The Hornets have been enjoying a strong season, but they ran into a buzz saw as Buffaloes’ Junior PG/SG Zion Mcrae led her tam to victory. Hornets’ Head Coach Billy Hughes touched on his team’s early game woes after Thursday’s matchup.


Coach Hughes felt that his team “came out flat” in the first eight minutes of the contest. By putting themselves at such a disadvantage, it forced the team to have to battle throughout the rest of the evening to close the gap. While they were ultimately unsuccessful, that is precisely what the Weeki Wachee coach saw in the second half. “I saw the fight and the grit in the girls and we got better today,” Coach Hughes said. “So, I was proud of them. Score does not show how tough that they played all four quarters.”


The first quarter began and ended about as unfortunately as possible for the home team. The Buffaloes opened the scoring 20 seconds in with the first of two first quarter treys from Senior SG Evah Watterson. The visitors would not slow down until the second period. Sophomore F Amiyah Flowers and Sophomore SF/SG Makayla Crews contributed baskets, but Mcrae stole the show early and often. Her first points came from beyond the arch as she put her team up 15-0 with roughly 2 minutes remaining in the quarter. Mcrae would go on to log 16 first half points enroute to a game-high 29 when the clock struck zero.


“[Zion Mcrae] for the Villages, she is a special ball player,” Coach Hughes said. “She is pretty talented. We do not get to see that quality of ball player often[…] So, it is good to see a team like that from out of town that like that. A pretty solid team. Their record does not tell how good they really are because they played some pretty tough teams.”

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Weeki Wachee High’s ,3, Joelys Rodriguez tries to drive past a Villages Charter School defender Thursday at a game held at Winding Waters Middle School. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo
Weeki Wachee High’s ,3, Joelys Rodriguez tries to drive past a Villages Charter School defender Thursday at a game held at Winding Waters Middle School. Photo by Joe DiCristofalo


Despite the incendiary night from the junior, the home team would claw back into the matchup. It started with building momentum and only being slightly outscored in the second period (10-6). Coming out of the intermission, the Hornets had a lot of work to do as they faced a daunting 30-10 deficit. They would outscore the Buffaloes 11-9 in the third frame thanks to six points from Freshman Joelys Rodriguez. Mcrae was the sole scorer for her team in the third as she knocked down a trio of treys. Weeki Wachee would also outscore their opponents in the fourth 14-12, but it would prove to be too little too late.


The Green and Black would continue to battle back as they pulled to within 11 points with roughly 3:24 of game time remaining. What came next would put the nail in the coffin. A bad pass by the Hornets would result in a quick steal, breakaway, and layup for Sophomore PG/SG Ray’niah Gould with under three minutes left. Now down 14 and having the momentum stolen from them, there was no longer enough time to come back. A few baskets made by both sides would not meaningfully influence the outcome as the Buffaloes completed the 16-point wire-to-wire victory.


Looking ahead to their next matchup, the Buffaloes will host the Mount Dora Christian Academy Bulldogs on Friday. The Hornets will return home for their second of four straight home games on Wednesday. The home team is looking to build for February’s postseason games as they continue their late season “juggernaut” schedule. Coach Hughes hopes playing tough opponents like the cross-county Springstead Eagles (11-3) will prepare them for the tournament.


Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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