It was over early in the Dog House Thursday night as Zephyrhills handily defeated Cypress Creek 61-14 in the season opener.
Thanks to the hot hands and leadership of the trio of guards, Maya Llanes, McKenna Campbell and Mikayla Cintron, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-3 lead after the first quarter.
The defensive pressure in the first quarter carried on throughout the game as the Bulldogs held the Coyotes to just three field goals.
“Defense is what we play,” Llanes said. “We’re really not an offensive team. Our defense becomes our offense.”
Llanes led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Campbell with 13 and Cintron with 12.
“It’s my senior year, I have to go crazy,” Llanes said. “I have places I need to go. This team has places to go.”
As the lead grew in the fourth quarter and once the lead hit 35 points, a running clock was instituted.
“I think winning this big at the beginning of the season boosts a lot of the players’ confidence especially the underclassmen,” Cintron said. “A win like that shows the young players they are meant to be here on varsity. It’s a big step.
“As seniors, we look it as like you could blow a team out by 100 points, but you know there is one thing you messed up on. You still need to work. It’s never perfect.”
The second quarter saw coach Chris Smith put his starters on the bench and work his underclassmen into the game and the Bulldogs took a 25-8 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“They seniors stepped up. They definitely came out good in the first quarter and the third quarter,” Smith said. “We put some backups in the second quarter and in the fourth. We got to get everyone in.”
The third quarter was similar to the first as the Bulldogs extended the lead to 45-14 and shut the Coyotes out in the final quarter for the 61-14 win.
“In every sport you have ebb and flows,” Smith explained. “You could get up by 10 or 20 points and the other team is going to have a run as well. You have to be up when they make their run.
“The kids enjoy a win like this. I just worry sometime they take a big as something more than it is. It is good to have a bunch of seniors who know that’s not the way we operate.”