Wesley Chapel end ZHS’ title hopes with 39-27 win
A tight game midway through the fourth quarter quickly turned into a 39-27 Wesley Chapel win over Zephyrhills in the Class 5A-District 6 championship Friday night.
Following a pair of district tournament wins – 53-28 over Cypress Creek and 44-41 over River Ridge, the Bulldogs came into the final looking to avenge an early season 57-34 loss to the Wildcats.
It appeared the Bulldogs were on their way to the district crown they worked so hard for. After a first half of tough defense and a lot of missed free throws, the Bulldogs and Wildcats were tied a 13 apiece. The Wildcats pulled away in the third thanks to an 11-0 run and held a 26-19 advantage going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was wild when the Bulldogs closed the gap at 29-27, but the Wildcats scored the next 10 points and shutout the Bulldogs in the final 4:15.
Maya Llanes led the Bulldogs with 12 points. With the district runner-up finish, the Bulldogs will move on to Class 5A regional action and will be on the road Tuesday. A pair of regional wins by the Bulldogs and the Wildcats could force a rematch in the regional final.
“We had them right where we wanted them and we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Head Coach Chris Smith. “We made a few mistakes down the stretch that hurt us and that’s what it came down to. They made free throws and we didn’t.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. This is the game they wanted and they came out and played like it. We made mistakes late and they (Wesley Chapel) made them in the first half.”
A district crown was the ultimate goal for the Bulldog seniors, Mikayla Cintron, Llanes, Madison Driggers and Makenna Campbell.
“It is really tough to come out of this with a loss,” Cintron said. “We wanted it really bad. I think moving on to regionals leaves us on a better not than ending it now. We still have at least another game to help us get past this.”