By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports reporter
And then there was one. That lone prep basketball team still playing that’s within Hernando County is Nature Coast Technical School and the Sharks were able to punch their ticket after defeating Palatka 60-53 in the Class 6A, Region 2 final. For Nature Coast, this is it’s second time reaching states, with the other coming in 2012. The Sharks have a real shot of winning the Class 6A state title, but will have to first get by a very tough Fort Lauderdale Stranahan group. We will take a closer look at this Class 6A state semifinal that will take place on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
PREVIEW: Nature Coast enters this state semifinal with an overall record of 24-5 and some could say the Sharks’ toughest test of the postseason came in the opening round in a 46-43 win versus Holiday Anclote. A second round blowout against district rival Crystal River and solid victory over Palatka has landed Nature Coast it’s second ever berth at states. If the Sharks are going to capture a victory at states, they will need shooting guard Robert Gomez to bring his best game to Lakeland. The 6-foot-4, 195-guard has been crucial in the first three playoff games for the Sharks and he’ll need to be at his best against the Mighty Dragons (26-5). The Mighty Dragons have won their playoff games at an average of 17 points per game and in their region final against Eustis, it wasn’t close at all. Stranahan defeated Eustis 86-62 at home, but now will have to take its show on the road versus Nature Coast. The group from Fort Lauderdale is led by junior guard Dave Herard, who leads a very athletic Stranahan club. This game will be controlled by pace, as Nature Coast will not look to make this contest a track meet. The winner between Nature Coast-Stranahan will face the winner of the opposite state semifinal between St. Petersburg Lakewood-Paxson School.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.