KISSIMMEE -- After reaching the state semifinals last season, the Sheridan Hills Christian volleyball team went through, in essence, four coaches in six months.
That’s in addition to losing two starters to graduation and another two who transferred.
Despite the turmoil, the Sharks returned to the Class 2A state semifinals Thursday night — only to watch their star hitter, junior Caitlin McCluskey, injure her swinging shoulder on the third point of the match.
The result was a 25-11, 25-9, 25-14 rout by Winter Park’s Foundation Academy (27-3) at Silver Spurs Arena. McCluskey, who led Sheridan (14-8) with 523 kills this season, was held to one on Thursday, although she did return to the court after the injury.
“It was unfortunate,” Sheridan coach Debbie Rantin said. “That injury affected the rest of this team. Caitlin was more composed than her teammates, who were devastated. Caitlin fought hard, and I commend her for that.”
As for putting her back in the match, Rantin said she trusted McCluskey’s instincts that she would not do career-ending damage to the shoulder. Asked about the pain, McCluskey again showed her toughness.
“It was more painful to not be out there for them,” she said. “But I definitely felt a pop. I’ve done this [to my shoulder] before. I was trying to put [my shoulder back in place] during one of the plays. My coach called a timeout. I tried to hit, but it hurt really bad. So I left to go see the trainer.”
McCluskey said she is unsure if she will need surgery, but she is resigned to her shoulder never being 100 percent healthy.
“It was astounding [to get hurt], but I was at peace with this,” she said. “Maybe God has a reason for us to come out with an even bigger fire next year and go all the way.”
Foundation seemed to downplay the injury when standout Megan Miller said she thought the loss of McCluskey “minorly” affected Sheridan.
Rantin was upset at Founation’s tactic of serving an injured McCluskey. To Miller, though, McCluskey was fair game.
“We tried to attack her,” Miller said, “and make her weaker than she already was.”
Foundation, unbeaten against Class 2A teams this season, will now try to win its first state title when it plays Lake Worth Christian Friday night.
Despite the loss, the future appears bright for Sheridan Hills, which graduates only one player from its regular rotation.
Certainly, the girls who remain have already endured a lot, starting with the departure of last season’s coach, Todd Von Weyhe. After he left the school, his assistant, Rantin, was promoted. Rantin had led the school’s junior high team to a 16-0 record.
But when Rantin got pregnant, she decided to step aside as coach. The new coach also quickly resigned due to personal reasons, and Rantin was again offered the job.
Rantin, who had not told her players she was pregnant when she resigned, had by this point suffered a miscarriage.
“I’m sure the girls felt abandoned,” said Rantin, who ultimately decided to return to the team. “I lost one [child], but I gained 12.
“God has a bigger plan for all of us, and the love these girls have for me is overwhelming.”
Pine Crest had eight athletes in different sports sign this week as part of the early signing period.
Tennis standout and state champion Roy Lederman signed with Stanford University. Steven Goldberg signed with Lehigh.
Two of its top swimmers also signed with Division I schools. Brittany Hammond signed with Missouri and Casey Francis signed with Penn State.
For lacrosse, Carli Marsh signed with the University of Florida and Jasmine Docal signed with Northwestern. Michael Diener signed with Hofstra, and Sam Talkow signed with Boston University.
• Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Plantation 29, Hialeah American 8: With a possible second round showdown game against St. Thomas Aquinas looming next week, all week long Plantation head coach Steve Davis had to work hard to keep his kids focused on the “first” task at hand.
That was to go on the road and take care of Hialeah American on Thursday night in a Class 7A first round playoff game at Traz Powell Stadium. Mission accomplished.
The Colonels used their patented smothering defense combined with some big first half plays from running back Jovante Ham and wound up cruising to a 29-8 victory. And with that, unless Miami Beach pulls off a monster upset on Friday night, the Colonels will get another shot at Aquanis next week and a chance to avenge a 24-20 last minute loss earlier this season.
“I think losing the South Plantation game (10-0) last week in the Mayor’s Cup game actually really helped us,” said Davis who saw his team improve to 8-3. “It helped get us grounded and refocused on the task at hand and that was to simply find a way to come out tonight and get the job done and that’s what we did. You can’t worry about next week until next week so we’ll see what happens now.”
Davis watched his defense, led by linebacker Ray Ciervo who had close to a dozen tackles, dominate most of the night holding the Patriots to 89 net rushing yards and 44 yards passing, 37 of those coming on the last play of the game.
“Our defense played well tonight and we needed them to play well early,” said Davis. “Because offensively we struggled.”
The Colonels were forced to punt on their first four possessions before Ham provided the spark and got things going.
After a short American punt gave Plantation a short field, Ham carried the ball three times for gains of 10, 30 and then the final two yards for the first touchdown of the game with 7:24 left in the second and an 8-0 lead after the two point conversion.
The biggest play of the night and one that seemed to break American’s back came when, facing a fourth-and-12 at the Patriot 29 with just 27 seconds left in the half, quarterback Chris Lammons found Jewison Dawkins on a bubble screen over the middle that Dawkins took and turned into a 29-yard touchdown pass to make it 16-0 at the half.
Plantation scored on its opening drive of the second half on an 8 yard touchdown run by Antwuan Haynes and the Colonel defense took it from there.
• Monarch 30, Flanagan 28: Flanagan’s Giancarlo Bonilla squared up a 48-yard field goal attempt for the win with two seconds remaining, but Monarch’s Ronnie Hoggins came sweeping through from around the right side of the line to partially block the kick.
With the deflection, the kick that Bonilla said “definitely” would’ve gone through the uprights innocuously fell short, and Monarch (8-3, 2-3 District 14-7A) won the third annual 411-PAIN Bowl, 30-28.
Flanagan (6-5, 3-2 District 12-8A) committed a false start right before Bonilla nailed his first attempt at the game-winner from 43 yards out, but instead of walking off with the win, the penalty pushed the Falcons back five yards and set up the block.
Monarch running back Darius Hoggins, who finished the regular season as Broward County’s third-leading rusher, left the game in the first half with an apparent dislocated shoulder. With him out and the team down 22-13 at halftime, Pasqual Burgess-Becker put the burden on himself to carry the team.
Burgess-Becker, who platoons between quarterback and receiver, scored four total touchdowns— two rushing and two passing. His 27 carries went for 196 yards, and he completed six of his 12 passes for 98 yards.
“We asked him at halftime, ‘What do you want to do? You want the ball in your hands or you want us to move you to receiver and bring in the other guy?’” Monarch coach Calvin Davis said. “He said, ‘Coach, I want it.’ And when you have a kid like that you just ride with him. He carried us.”
Flanagan quarterback Ryan Stanley, who ranked third in Broward in passing yards, put the team in field goal range with under two minutes remaining to set up the game-winning attempt. Excluding spikes to stop the clock, he completed all seven of his passes to drive his team from his own five-yard line to the Monarch 26 before the false start that preceded the kick.
Stanley finished the game 23-for-37 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Both Burgess-Becker and Stanley took home trophies for their performances in the postseason bowl game between the two non-playoff-qualifying teams.
• University School 4, Mater Academy 0: Valerie O’Toole 2 goals. Jazlyn Scott goal, assist. Gillian Newman fifth shutout. US 4-2-3.
• Archbishop McCarthy 8, Mourning 0: Colleen Becker 2 goals. Stephanie Moreno 2 goals. Abby Ribas 2 goals. AM 5-2.
• Scheck Hillel 5, International Studies 0: Albert Dichy 2 goals. Aaron Franco, Joel Sadovnic and Salo Lapco scored one goal each.
• American Heritage 1, Hallandale 0: Yuri Chekelsky goal. Suarez shutout. AH 5-0.
• Hollywood Hills 4, Dillard 0: David Moreno 2 goals. Alejandro Osorio 2 goals. Anthony Sanabria shutout. HH 2-1.
• Late Wednesday – Cardinal Gibbons 67 , Western 38 - CG (1-0): Williams 28, Cohen 15, Lanzon 9, Ozaltin 6, Jones 6, Pollock 3. Wes (1-1): Torres 3, Pakrey 7, Freay-Walters 5, Biondo 10, McDohough 14. Halftime: CG 35-14. Rebounds: Cohen 8, Williams 8, Pollock 7. Assists: Williams 6. Steals: Jones 7.
• Late Wednesday – Northeast 49, West Broward 28 – NE (2-0): Dobson 5, Porter 9, Hill 3, Saintigene 12, Morris 2, Gordon 4, McIver 8, Delinois 6. WB (1-1): Perez 5, Angus 3, Delvil 4, Stanback 2, Green 14. Rebounds: Saintigene 12. Steals: Porter 5.
• Late Tuesday – Northeast 78, McArthur 14 – NE (1-0): Dobson 5,Saintigene 30pts, Hill 5, Valdes 6, Porter 10,Morris 12, Gordon 6, Delinois 4. MA (0-1): Julianne 2; Gabrielle 7; Celisha 1p; Lesley 2; Ashley 2. Rebound: Saintigene 21. Steals: Porter 7.
• Preseason – TERRA 62, Pine Crest 28: Erik Fernandez (PC) 10.