BROOKSVILLE- There is one last Hernando County girls prep basketball team left standing and that club resides out of Hernando Christian Academy in Brooksville.
The Lions have been one of the best programs around the area the last few years and have kept it up in 2020-2021 and into the postseason. Hernando Christian ran the table throughout the regular season and is now 15-0 on the season and has clinched a berth in the region finals against First Baptist of Naples.
Hernando Christian’s first order of business was securing a district championship and the Lions did just that. The Lions won the Class 2A, District 5 championship and qualified for the Class 2A playoffs. Hernando Christian ended up facing Cambridge Christian out of Tampa, Fla, and breezed past the Lancers 72-34.
In the second rough of the postseason, the Lions faced off against Foundation Christian, Tuesday, Feb. 16.
"We defeated Foundation Christian last night 71-46. Our girls did an outstanding job of boxing out and rebounding against a decidedly taller Foundations squad. We also ran the ball well in transition, scoring a lot of fast-break baskets," said coach Mike Drummond.
One of the biggest reasons for the team’s overall success this season has been the play of senior Esther Jackson. Jackson has been with the program all throughout her career and her overall numbers speak for themselves. In Tuesday night's region semifinal against Foundation Christian, Jackson scored a season-high 34 points.
Jackson averaged 24.2 points per game and her 3-point shooting has been top of the line. The senior is averaging 69 percent shooting beyond the 3-point arc hitting on 24-of-35 shots taken. She is averaging 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
When it comes to facing in-county competition, Hernando Christian has only faced one team and that was Springstead. The Eagles went 14-11 this season and the Lions were able to upend them 45-35 during the regular season. Though Hernando Christian didn’t face Nature Coast or Weeki Wachee, there’s not much argument that the Lions might’ve been able to get by those programs.
Now the Lions have a chance to achieve something they have yet to do in program history: clinch a berth in the Class 2A state semifinal. Hernando Christian last year was able to reach the region final but ended up falling short when they lost 51-10 to Keswick Christian. If Hernando Christian hopes to make history, they’ll need to get past First Baptist of Naples in the Regional Final.
The last time a Hernando County team was able to get to a state semifinal was Weeki Wachee back in the 2018-2019 season when the Hornets went 26-5 and ended up falling 56-26 to American Heritage Plantation.
If Hernando Christian can be that next state semi-finalist team, remains to be seen, but they have a chance and that’s all the Lions need.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.