NORTH PORT — Woodland Middle School’s boys and girls basketball teams started the season Monday night against visiting Booker and came up short in both games against the quick Tornadoes.
Booker won the girls games 37-11 as they led from start to finish. The Wildcats boys team gave Booker a tough game most of the way but fell 43-35.
The Tornadoes boys team were led by 6-foot-3 standout Jason Jackson who scored 20 points, including two slam dunks. The visitors held a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and increased it to 19-13 at halftime.
They kept their lead but the Wildcats cut the advantage to 3 points at 39-36 before the visitors padded their lead at the end. Tinan Becker and J.J Hall both scored 12 points for the Wildcats. Hall made 3 3-point field goals and Becker had two 3-pointers.
Ari Davis added 7 points and Victor Mercer scored 4 for the hosts. Every time the Wildcats cut into the lead, the Tornadoes used their size and speed to hold on to their lead.
“We were a little nervous at first,” said Woodland first-year coach Zach Babbit. “They’re (Booker) a very good team. We need to work on our ball handling and improving our rebounding. But it’s a learning process.”
In the girls contest, the visitors jumped to a 12-0 first-quarter lead and controlled the game throughout. They forced numerous Woodland turnovers with their speed and quickness. Makenna Tippman scored 6 points and
Christie Labossiere added 5 for the Wildcats.
“We need to improve in several areas,” said Wildcats girls coach Juan Esparra. “We need to have better communication and take care of the ball better, but we’ll improve. About half of our players are eighth-graders and the rest are seventh- and sixth-graders.”
Esparra was the Woodland boys coach before becoming the girls coach this season.
The Woodland-Heron Creek Crosstown Showdown will be Dec. 17 at Woodland. Following the regular season, the top four teams in the boys and girls divisions will go to the playoffs.