Springstead’s McNerney calls foul: ‘Numbers don’t lie’ as Seahawks repeat, 62-54

Reagan Huden
Springstead’s Reagan Huden (10) tallied 14 points in the Lady Eagles’ 7A-8 title-game 62-54 loss to Sunlake Thursday at Land O’ Lakes High. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Lady Eagles’ 51-40

lead with 6:54 remaining

fizzles after foul woes



LAND O’ LAKES – In the end, F.W. Springstead’s third-year girls’ basketball coach Jay McNerney believed he had a legit beef.

When junior do-everything guard Reagan Huden buried the Lady Eagles’ 10th of 11 three-pointers with 6:54 left Thursday at “The Swamp”, the No. 4 seeded Spring Hill cagers appeared poised for a huge upset ahead of No. 1 seeded Land O’ Lakes-Sunlake, 62-54.

Problem was over the next three minutes, the early accumulation of fouls, led to SHS downfall as three starters – Sarah Vo, Tierra Houston and Yhanni Batts – all received their fifth personals and were disqualified.

Compounding matters, with only Huden available to break the Seahawks’ press, the wheels literally came off the Springstead bus committing 13 of its game-high 30 turnovers along the final eight minutes as the ’Hawks earned the school’s first-ever Class 7A, District 8 repeat, 62-54.

In the autopsy of the Sunlake (15-8 overall) comeback, both teams converted 18 field goals, but the biggest discrepancy was from the foul line.

Springstead was whistled for eye-popping 29 personal fouls compared to the ’Hawks’ 15, yet it was Sunlake that was turning up the heat with its pressing defense.

As a result, Sunlake players paraded to the foul line 39 times, converting 22 compared to Springstead attempting exactly 11 free throws, and canning seven.

Jay McNerney
Jay McNerney

The loss, Springstead’s second straight title game setback left McNerney fuming and him venting his ire at the game officials.

“The numbers don’t lie. We were ahead and then three of our best players fouled out,” lamented McNerney. “We shot 10 foul shots (actually 11) to their 40. The refs were terrible and you can print that.

“What really stinks is they were the ones pressing us. They were reaching attempting to create turnovers, but they got no one in foul trouble,” explained McNerney. “How does that happen?”

“I thought we were the better team. They (Sunlake) got help from the refs. Otherwise, we win this game nine times out of 10,” stressed McNerney. “I have no regrets. We did everything we could to prepare these girls for this game.”

The Eagles, who were seeking to not only earn the rubber game win over Sunlake, were attempting to hoist its first-ever district championship trophy in 40 years.

Morgan Nelski
Morgan Nelski

The Mariner Boulevard cagers, who canned 18-of-49 from the field (37 percent) were led the resurgent efforts of junior Morgan Nelski.

Nelski, who had been a non-factor for most of the second half of the season, responded to being benched earlier in the week, with a career-best 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

“I benched Nelski for the last game,” explained Coach McNerney. “When she asked why, I told her that she needed to be focused on our next game. We needed her to hit that shot from the corner.”

Huden, who was hindered by two quick first-quarter fouls, finished with 14 points.

Sophomore Sydney Sauto came off the bench to add eight markers.

Sunlake, which misfired on 48-of-66 field goal attempts (73 percent), nearly finished with five players in double figures.

Junior Andrea Wallace paced the Seahawks with 13 points followed by juniors Kasia Ramirez (12), Mary Moran (11) and Elizabeth Moran (10). Senior Cheyenne Yucantonis added nine points.

Class 7A, District 8 Girls Basketball Tournament at Land O’ Lakes



Springstead 49, New Port Richey-Mitchell 43

Land O’ Lakes-Sunlake 61, Land O’ Lakes 49



Land O’ Lakes-Sunlake 62, Springstead 54

Sunlake 62, Springstead 54























SPRINGSTEAD (54) – Vo 2 3-4 7, Huden 4 2-2 14, Batts 2 0-0 4, Reiser 0 0-2 0, Houston 1 0-0 3, Sauto 3 2-3 8, Nelski 6 0-0 18, Basto 0, Vilca 0, Spencer 0. Totals: 18 7-11 54.

SUNLAKE (62) – Yucatonis 1 7-12 9, Gabrelli 0, E. Moran 3 2-4 10, Wallace 5 3-8 13, M Moran 4 3-7 11, Gonzalez 1 1-2 3, Ramirez 4 2-2 12, McQuain 0 4-4 4, Casten 0, Forester 0. Totals: 18 22-39 62.

3-point goals – SPG (11): Nelski (6), Huden (4), Houston (1). SNL (4): Ramirez (2), E. Moran (2).

Total fouls: SPG: 29, SNL: 15.

Fouled out – SPG: Vo, Batts, Houston.

Technical fouls – none.

Records: Springstead (1-1 tourney, 11-9 overall), Sunlake (2-0 tourney, 15-8 overall).

Class 2A, District 4 Girls Basketball Tournament

at Brooksville-Hernando Christian Academy



Tampa-Bayshore Christian 72, Clearwater-Lakeside Christian 29

Ocala-St. John Lutheran 48, Tampa Bay Christian 10

Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian 44, Ocala-Meadowbrook 7

HCA 66, Tampa-Citrus Park Christian 4



Ocala-St. John Lutheran 49, Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian 44 (OT)

HCA 66, Bayshore Christian 43



Ocala-St. John Lutheran vs. HCA, 7:30 p.m.

Class 6A, District 7 Girls Basketball Tournament at Weeki Wachee



Crystal River – bye

Nature Coast Technical 46, Citrus 36

Hernando 48, Central 36

Weeki Wachee 46, Lecanto 12



Crystal River 60, Nature Coast Technical 56 (OT)

Weeki Wachee 38, Hernando 37



Weeki Wachee vs. Crystal River, 7 p.m.



This article has 1 Comment

  1. Couldn’t help but laugh at McNearny’s coments about the refs costing them the girls basketball game. It may be true…but a big reason they were in the game was due to the lack of calls against them in the Mitchell game. I’ve been watching girls bball for six years and the first half was maybe the worst officiating I’ve seen. I told my wife afterthe game ‘if they (springstead) come across even half way decent refs, the other team will be shooting at the line all night. Springstead has some good players and I admire the coaches’ passion, but there were some serious gifts that got them into that game and I expect he knows it. Bottom line is we should be getting better refs for district games.

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