Zephyrhills Free Press

A senior night for the record books

Lady Bulldogs stomp Central 107-2

The Zephyrhills girl’s basketball team celebrated the senior night for Taija McCullough and Ashauna Jones in record setting fashion Thursday night with a 107-2 win over Brooksville Central. That is not a misprint. The Lady Bulldogs won 107-2.

It was the most points ever scored by a Zephyrhills girl’s team and possibly the most points ever scored in the ZHS gym by a boys or girls team.

Maya Llanes had a game-high 25 points followed by 21 by McCullough, 20 from Timneta Clemons and 18 from Madison Driggers. The Bulldogs held a 71-0 advantage at halftime and the Bears got their first and only basket at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter.

Prior to the offensive and defensive domination, McCullough and Jones were joined by their parents to be honored on their senior night.

“Honestly, this team has made me into the person I am today,” said McCullough, a four-year varsity player. “Without the discipline of my coaches and teammates, I wouldn’t be who I am. This is like my second family. I’m with them so much, year round.”

McCullough has been a leader on the court as point guard running the offense and stingy on defense in her four seasons as Lady Bulldog. Her future is even more optimistic as she moves on to attend the University of Florida on full academic scholarship.

“It’s exciting to know there is a future ahead of me, but I’m grateful for all the memories I made here with people I grew up with,” McCullough said.

For Jones, she doesn’t have the long-term feeling of being a Bulldog. She transferred to ZHS this year after attending Zephyrhills Christian Academy. She is no stranger to her Bulldog teammates however, since they played together during the off season.

“They have all become my family,” Jones said. “They are my sisters. We have gotten so close. I feel like they are blood. I wanted to come play with them my last year. Being a Bulldog has been great. They made me a better person inside and out. They made me more outgoing.”

In the game that featured a running clock the entire second half, Coach Chris Smith was not looking to run up the score on the Bears, however his players had a goal.

“They wanted to score 100 points,” Smith said. “We stopped pressing early. We just played base defense. We passed the ball around and shot from the outside.”

It was a fitting way to send the seniors out. Kylie Walton scored the basket that put ZHS over the century mark. McCullough was on a Zephyrhills team that served as the doormat of the district. Now, as a senior, the Lady Bulldogs finished the regular season 18-7.

“If you think about where Taija was her freshman year when the won a couple of games,” Smith said. “It’s all about them having positive experiences in whatever they do. I told the Central girls after the game that we were in that same spot a few years.”

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