Manatee's cheerleaders win state title
Manatee's cheerleading team is crafting quite the dynasty.
The Hurricanes won Class 2A's extra-large division for the second consecutive year Thursday at the competitive cheerleading state championship at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
Head coach Kelly Althof said the Hurricanes lost 17 seniors from last year's squad, making the repeat even more impressive.
"We had a lot of sophomores, a lot of new cheerleaders," Althof said. "But Coach (Joe) Kinnan told me it's not a rebuilding year, it's a reloading year. Every expectation I had for these girls, they didn't just meet it, they exceeded it.
"I am so proud of those girls."
Though championship crown wasn't official until the judges announced it, Althof said she had a feeling things would swing the Canes' way.
"The last four years, we've either finished first or been runner-up, so we're always on that final mat, where all we can do is cross our fingers and pray," Althof said. "I know how well my girls performed, but you never know what the judges might think. I can tell you that we hit a perfect routine. It was flawless. We had a really hard week of practice, and the two things that were talked about was work hard and have faith in ourselves and our abilities.
"They went out there and were just amazing."
The Hurricanes get right back to work Monday in preparation for next weekend's national competition in Orlando.
Manatee placed 10th in the nation last year.
"We're hoping to beat that," Althof said.
In the Class 1A extra large division, Lakewood Ranch took third and Braden River was fourth.
FORT MYERS BISHOP VEROT 2, CARDINAL MOONEY 0 -- The Cougars' season came to an end on the road in a Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
"I don't think (Verot has) seen pressure that much this year," Mooney coach Sebastian Marin said. "They've beaten a lot of teams 8-0, 7-0. It was working for a while.
"(The Cougars) played hard. It wasn't our result, but I'm happy with the way we came out and played today. If we had any chance, that was going to be the chance, with some pressure."
Mooney finishes the season at 9-9-3.
PALMETTO 78, SOUTHEAST 54 -- Jarrid Rhodes had a game-high 20 points as the Tigers defeated the Seminoles on the road to improve to 18-5.
Stepvon Saunders chipped in a strong game that included 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. Tre Clark (18 points) and Terry Collins (11 points, seven rebounds) also aided the victory. Southeast's Ronald Taylor had a team-high 17 points. Palmetto's Senior Night is Saturday against Booker to wrap up the regular season.
BRADEN RIVER 58, BAYSHORE 43 -- Zechariah Kendall's 22 points led the Pirates to a road victory and spoiled a career mileston for the Bruins' Wesley Jackson's career milestone. Jackson, who netted eight points, reached 1,000 points for his career.
Braden River's Deondrick Bacon had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while James Mauer (11 points, three assists, two steals) and Michael Braxton (six blocked shots) chipped in for the Pirates, too. Bayshore's Justin Harris paced the Bruins scoring with 15 points.
Braden River completed its regular season at 11-12 and opens district tournament play at home against Sarasota on Monday.
-- Herald staff reports