Hernando Sun sports reporter
Photography by Alice Mary Herden
BROOKSVILLE- Back to back seasons for a girl’s high school basketball team within Hernando County saw a program reaching the region final.
With Weeki Wachee reaching the state semifinals last year at this time, it was Hernando Christian’s turn to try and make a run to Lakeland and the state championship tournament. Despite the Lions’ best efforts to match what the Hornets did in 2019, Hernando Christian fell a little short.
The Lions (25-2) were ousted in the region final against Keswick Christian on the road, as Hernando Christian fell 51-10. With the loss, Hernando Christian ends one of the program’s best seasons in program history. Hernando Christian was down 40-6 by halftime in the route, ending its season with a record of 25-2.
It was a step up from last season for Hernando Christian, who went 22-4 last season and their campaign ended in the region semifinals against district rival Bayshore Christian 57-36. The Lions finished the 2018-2019 season as the district runner-ups to Bayshore Christian. Mike Drummond’s first season as the Lions head coach was back in 2010-2011 and the team went 3-10. Since then, Drummond has guided the Lions to five straight seasons of 15-plus wins.
Hernando Christian’s only other loss on the season game against Bishop McLaughlin in a 56-42 loss. Other than that, the Lions were able to rip off 25 victories before running up against the juggernaut Keswick Christian club in St. Petersburg. The Lions did pick up two playoff victories over Bayshore Christian and First Baptist Academy.
This Hernando Christian squad should be able to make it back to the postseason next year, as the Lions do return several key players from this breakthrough campaign. The most important piece of all the returners is junior Esther Jackson, who averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game. Freshman Lydia Jackson came onto the scene and played well for the Lions, averaging 6.4 points a game.
Drummond and his program should be a team on the rise heading into the 2020-2021 season, with the team returning a couple key players back to the lineup. The Lions should be the favorite once again to win Class 2A, District 5. As they prep for the off-season, Hernando Christian has every reason to keep their heads up for their accomplishments they were able to pull off this past year.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.