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East County Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 4 years ago

Hit or Miss: Jen Blanco

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Relentless Mustangs have bright futures
by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

When I left the Lakeland Center on Saturday after covering the Lakewood Ranch girls basketball team's bid to win a state championship, I thought I could have left my notebook there.

The Lakewood Ranch boys basketball team seemed like a good bet to bring me right back for the boys Final Four.

On Feb. 19, though, the Mustangs boys season came to an end after an 83-77 loss to St. Petersburg, one win short of the Final Four.

Lakewood Ranch held an 18-17 halftime lead in its Class 7A-Region 3 final against St. Petersburg, but then the third quarter happened during which the Green Devils scored 32 points. 

The Mustangs' terrific season came to an end.

Rising above sorrow of a pair of losses by both Lakewood Ranch basketball teams was the fact that both played relentless basketball this past season. They never stopped charging, but only ran out of time.

Even if I am not returning to the Lakeland Center this week, I fully expect to be back next season.

The Mustang boys, who graduate one senior in Anthony Suarez, return their entire starting rotation from this year’s team, which won the program’s second district championship and first two regional tournament games. 

“Since the beginning, we knew we were going to be pretty good,” Lakewood Ranch coach Jeremy Schiller said. “I don’t think we necessarily knew how good we were going to be, but the relationships are so important.

"We’re going to win games. We’re going to lose games. That’s the way life goes. But the brotherhood that these guys have and the relationships we have with each other, this is going to last 30 years.” 

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The Braden River and Lakewood Ranch softball teams seem to be in a competition to see which can produce the most offense.

Over the past week, the Pirates and Mustangs have driven in more runs than some teams score in an entire season. 

Braden River scored a combined 45 runs in its past three games, all district contests. Lakewood Ranch drove in 22 runs in back-to-back games against Palmetto and Riverview Feb. 16 and Feb. 17, before closing out the week with a 3-0 victory over Manatee Feb. 18. 

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The push to the state tournament continues for 13 area wrestlers, who finished in the top four at their respective district tournaments to advance to Feb. 26-27 regional tournaments. 

Lakewood Ranch had eight wrestlers qualify with Hunter Reed (120 pounds) and Dylan Cameron (132) both capturing individual Class 3A-District 8 titles Feb. 19. Jake Seaman (106), Tim Dwyer (138), Ryan Brown (145), Logan Bounds (182), Chase Sharp (195) and Nate Lancaster (220) also will advance to the Class 3A-Region 2 tournament, at Osceola High. 

In Class 2A, Braden River’s Chance Sharbono captured the Class 2A-District 10 title at 138 pounds Feb. 19. Joining Sharbono at the Class 2A-Region 3 tournament, at Charlotte High, will be Riley Dunn (106), Lucas Romano (126), Colten Cox (132) and Brendan Bengston (heavyweight), marking the largest contingent of wrestlers that the Pirates have ever sent to the regional tournament. 

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