PORT ST. JOHN
Officially, they’ve been wearing Cocoa High uniforms, but the girls basketball team that played most of the regular season for the Tigers isn’t the one that has shown up late in the season.
Five serious injuries and other nagging ones have kept the Cocoa team from having all 11 players available for any game this season, and the 7-15 record is the evidence. For evidence that the team is slowly healing — though two players are still out — there is Tuesday’s Class 4A, District 8 tournament score: Cocoa 53, Holy Trinity 30.
The fifth-seeded Cocoa Tigers lost both regular-season games to the ones from Holy Trinity, but Cocoa ran away and coasted on Tuesday to earn a spot in Thursday’s semifinal round against No. 1 seed West Shore.
“My complete previous 14 years prior, I haven’t had that many injuries,” head coach Pat Gaines-Jackson said. “It was hard to keep the team motivated. Mentally, it was wearing them down.”
Cocoa Beach, the second seed, also advanced Tuesday, defeating Space Coast 37-34. The Minutemen face Astronaut in Thursday’s other semifinal.
Cocoa used a big second quarter to build a halftime cushion over Holy Trinity, 25-16. Gaines-Jackson’s team then scored the first six points of the second half, holding Holy Trinity scoreless for more than four minutes following intermission.
The challenge for Cocoa in trying to win another game to earn a playoff spot or even winning two for a district title is depth. Nine healthy players may not match up well the rest of the way.
“We’ve been trying to just push the conditioning,” Gaines-Jackson said. “We played man-to-man tonight, but that can change depending on the opponent.”
Class 6A, District 7
Traci Mabe talled 16 points and 17 rebounds, while Sydney Gurdon added 13 points and 10 steals as Heritage downed East River 61-41.
“It feels great to be back in the district championship for the third year in a row,” said Panthers head coach Colin Turey.
Heritage clinched a playoff spot with the victory. The second-seeded Panthers will face No. 1 Edgewater in Friday’s district championship. Edgewater defeated Eau Gallie in Tuesday’s other game 80-13.
Class 2A, District 11
Covenant Christian’s Emma Grimes scored 34 points and hit all 13 of her free throws to lead her team past the Brevard Heat 56-51. With the win, Covenant Christian will face Master’s Academy of Vero Beach.
Rachel Frisco had 24 points for the Heat in a losing effort.
Fresh off a Cape Coast Conference championship, Astronaut High’s wrestling program will host the Class 1A, District 8 tournament today in Titusville. The War Eagles bring four individual weight class winners into the event: Connor Kirk at 106, Travis (126) and Ethan (132) Ahrens, and Jacob Farris at 152. Trace Woxberg of Ruston, the 160-pound conference winner, and Satellite’s Christopher Ralson (195) are also on District 8 teams. The remaining teams are Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Space Coast and Titusville.