Zephyrhills struggles in second half
By Dave Walters
Wesley Chapel hung close long enough to take charge and claim a 60-54 win over the Bulldogs Friday night at the “Dog House.”
In a back and forth first half that saw the Bulldogs’ cling to a 28-27 lead at halftime, the Wildcats were able to erase an 11-0 run by Zephyrhills and keep the game tight.
After intermission, the Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 22-16 in the third quarter to give them the advantage they needed come away with the win. Wesley Chapel’s Sam Lowe had 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half to lead the way. Timothy Ali added 13 points.
The Bulldogs got a game-high 17 points from both Kevin Pagan and Jimmy McCarley, but the offense sputtered in the second half thanks in part to costly turnovers and Wesley Chapel’s defense.
“We work on passing and turnovers every day, but it’s hard to emulate the speed of the game,” said Bulldogs head coach Mike Novak. “The kids get used to the speed of the game, then we’ll have fewer turnovers. The turnovers have been a real challenge for us so far.”
Novak’s young squad falls to 4-5 on the season with a trio of tough opponents next week with Fivay on the road Tuesday, Lake Christian home Thursday and Pasco Friday night at home.
Novak has three returning players from last season and nine others who are new to varsity basketball.
“Some these guys were not on any team last year and you can see that” Novak said. “We’re a little bit behind and with new players, you’re going to be behind. It’s a learning experience.”
An extremely aggressive Wildcats squad dominated the inside game and kept the Bulldogs’ rebounds to a minimum.
“We work on rebounds at practice, but you wouldn’t know by tonight,” Novak joked. “We work on boxing out.”
Of Zephyrhills five losses, all have been decided by six points or less.
“The kids are fighting enough to keep it somewhat close,” Novak said. “Every day is something new. We’re learning.”