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Lakeland, Gaither take Nature Coast Christmas Crown

By: Danny Aiello Jr


Before the New Year holiday break, the Nature Coast Christmas Tournament wrapped up crowning two champions. In arguably the best 16-team field the tournament has seen, each eight-team bracket wrapped up play Wednesday, with Gaither and Lakeland taking their respective bracket crowns.

In the first bracket, Wiregrass Ranch met Gaither for the third time this season, with the two schools having split the previous meetings.

Gaither, sporting a seven-player squad, knocked off Wiregrass 65-60 to claim the crown in an action packed contest.

Trevor Blackmon finished with 25 points and five rebounds for the Cowboys, earning him MVP honors.

In the second bracket, a tough Shaker Heights (Ohio) team met the defending champion Lakeland Dreadnaughts.

Lakeland would dig a big hole, trailing 51-43 at the end of the third quarter, before rallying back in the game of the night.

After forcing overtime it would be all Dreadnaughts, as Lakeland pulled away winning 84-75, claiming back-to-back tournament titles.

The third place games saw Wesley Chapel beat Nature Coast 42-35, and Medina beat Bowsher 73-46.


Tournament Results:

Bracket One

7th/8th Place – Gulf Breeze 61, Hernando 46.

5th/6th Place – Countryside 53, Land O’Lakes 47.

3rd/4th Place – Wesley Chapel 42, Nature Coast 35.

Championship – Gaither 65, Wiregrass Ranch 60.

Bracket Two

7th/8th Place – Steinbrenner 51, Zephyrhills 48.

5th/6th Place – Alonso 70, Eastbay 53.

3rd/4th Place – Medina 73, Bowsher 46.

Championship – Lakeland 84, Shaker Heights 75 (OT).

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  • Sir with all due respect.. I actually got to officiate a few of the games in the tournament… Please be aware of how the tournament is put together before you make comments like that.. Hernando county finally has a tournament that show cases talent from other states and its good for our county. Shaker Heights and Medina did not play each other.This was probably the best tournament I have been a part of it my 13 years of officiating. Keep up the Good Work Coach

    Thursday, 7 January 2016, 7:51 am
  • P.S. Shaker Heights and Medina play in the same Conference in Ohio so in effect they drove over a 1,000miles to play each other when they face each other in Cleveland Area….SHAME ON YOU COACH !!!!!!

    Wednesday, 6 January 2016, 10:39 am
  • Shame n Nature Coasts Coach for stacking the Brackets as he did…….his statement about bringing Northern teams to theTournament (Toledo Bowsher,Shaker Heights and Medina ) to give other teams on how the northern teams play was a pure FARCE…..He put all 3 in the same bracket so they would basically beat each other up along w/ (at the time Zephyrhills and powerful Lakeland while Nature coast started out w/ Gulf breezes….BUT IT ALL backfired didn’t it coach….HA HA as the old statement goes “God Spoke”

    Wednesday, 6 January 2016, 10:32 am

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