By MEL SUITER
Photography by Alice Mary Herden
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. --- Hernando High School had a little magic, late Saturday afternoon January 4, 2020, inside the Leopard’s Den, but suddenly that too disappeared.
Bloomingdale High School captured third place at the 2019 Hernando High School Holiday Classic by defeating the Leopards 51-31.
Hernando High School basketball coach Travis Bruns did not like the loss much but he did appreciate the fight that his team put up against the Bulls.
During the tournament run the Leopards were able to find the momentum early in the games and were able to find the points. Against Bloomingdale High School, however, the Leopards’ shot accuracy was not anywhere close in the building.
This is partly because of the physical pressure defense by the Bulls who were quick to the ball or to the spot on the floor that they needed. Their efforts smothered the Leopards plus kept them out of the lane.
Hernando High School junior guard Landon Carter scored 27 points opening night of the tournament against Brandon Academy. He struggled with his shot against the Bulls but Carter didn’t get frustrated and he didn’t quit shooting the ball.
Carter looked for any opening, any chance to get his shot up but the Bulls’ defense thwarted his efforts.
In the third quarter, Carter escaped the defense and he was left open, he took advantage of the chance and put the basketball through the hoop for three points.
The shot lifted the spirits of the fans in the stand, the Leopard’s coaching staff and the Leopards on the floor.
There was hope!
“We made a run at the end of the first half, we were only down by four at the end of the third quarter and the wheels fell off the wagon again,” Burns said. “Practices are getting better but we are still not there. Instead of two quarters it’s three eventually we will get to the four against a good team. The win against Brandon Academy is good but we gotta get better.”
Bloomingdale High School defense got caught out of position again by Carter and he was able to make a second three point shot to cut into the lead by the Bulls to just four points. Soon the horn sounded with the end of the third quarter.
Waiting for the Bulls on the bench was Bloomingdale High School coach Shawn Vanzant with a fiery speech urging his players to pick up the intensity of the defense and execute the game plan.
“In the first half we were too passive on defense,” Vanzant said before he left the gym. “We missed a lot of shots, we missed a lot of gaps but we’re happy with the win.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, the hopes of the Leopards were stopped by the Bulls as their defense returned for the final eight minutes ready, refocused and they wrapped that blanket of a defense tight around the Leopards.
Bloomingdale High School defense took away the momentum and the magic of the game from the Leopards.
Carter finished the night with 11 points.
Nature Coast Tech finished the tournament in fifth place, one spot behind Hernando, while Weeki Wachee came in at number eight.
Hernando High School was back to business Tuesday night Jan. 7 at home against Weeki Wachee High School, squeaking out a win 50-48.
Results of the Hernando High School Holiday Shootout
1. LENNARD HIGH SCHOOL
2. Sunlake High School
3. Bloomingdale High School
4. Hernando High School
5. NatureCoast High School
6. Leto High School
7. Brando Academy
8. Weeki Wachee High School
All Tournament Team Selection
Christian DeLeon (Sr.) Weeki Wachee High School
Travis Dean (Soph.) Brandon Academy
Juan Montanez (Sr.) Leto High School
Cai Teague (Sr.) Nature Coast Tech High School
Landon Carter (Jr.) Hernando High School
Gabe O’Bryant (Sr.) Bloomingdale High School
Justin Lucena (Sr.) Sunlake High School
Jordan Golden (Sr.) Sunlake High School
Colton Peterson (Sr.) Lennard High School
Tarence Guinyard (Jr.) Lennard High School
Results of the Girls Hernando High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament
1 EUSTIS HIGH SCHOOL
2. Wesley Chapel High School
3. South Sumter High School
4. Hernando High School
5. Lennard High School
6. Weeki Wachee High School
7. Gulf High School
8. Gaither High School
All Girl’s Hernando High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament Team
1. Britney Lacerte (Sr.) Gulf High School - She has scored over 1,000 points for her high school career.
2.Briana Hernandez (Soph.) Gaither High School
3. Morgan McDaniel (Jr.) Weeki Wachee High School
4. Halei Murell (Soph.) Lennard High School
5. Zoe Tennell (Fr.) South Sumter High School
6. Reggie White (Fr.) Hernando High School
7. Cerina Rolle (Soph.) Eustis High School
8. Tanaujeah Brown (Fr.) Eustis High School
9. Mia Nicholson (Jr.) Wesley Chapel High School
10. Tiara Banks (Jr.) Wesley Chapel High School