Coach Mike Novak bids farewell to nine seniors
It was a bittersweet night at the Dog House at ZHS as boys’ basketball coach Mike Novak honored his nine seniors prior to the Bulldogs 81-70 win over visiting Sunlake.
The senior night for the Bulldogs honored Jimmy McCauley, Kevin Pagan, Marc Dortch, Noah Amous, Tory Taylor, Kayvion Roberts, Jatorrian Reinhold, Damien Lopez and Joseph Barnes. This senior-heavy squad has amassed a 16-4 record with a pair of home games remaining on the schedule next week before the start of the Class 5A-District 6 Tournament.
In Friday’s win against Sunlake, Pagan led the Bulldogs with 19 points and McCauley was right behind him with 14. Sophomore Preston Linville added 14. Head Coach Mike Novak saw all of his players get playing time and 10-of-12 players reached the scoring column.
Pagan and McCauley have been a solid 1-2 punch for the Bulldogs and their time together with their teammates will be something they cherish.
“It means the world to me to play with these guys. I’ve played with them since middle school,” Pagan said. “It means everything to be able to play with these guys all through high school.”
McCauley came to Zephyrhills from another school and didn’t have the middle school history with his teammate, but they welcomed him into the Bulldog basketball family.
“They treated me like family,” McCauley said. “We built chemistry over the last few years and it shows.”
For Novak, losing nine key components to his squad will hurt more than the scoreboard.
“This group of seniors put in a great effort,” Novak said. “They are all really good kids. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with a lot of great kids. You hate to see them go. You have them for three or four years and you build these relationships beyond basketball.
“They have set a good example for the younger players. They see how hard they work and they set that example every day.”