The Bloomingdale Lady Bulls basketball team is off to one of its best starts in their school’s history with a 9-0 record. (Photo courtesy of Legacy Eleven Photography.)

The Bloomingdale Lady Bulls basketball team is off to one of its best starts in their school’s history with a 9-0 record. According to, the Lady Bulls are ranked 21 in the state of Florida and fifth in the 6A Division.

Bloomingdale made a huge statement win when they defeated defending state champion Plant 61-59 on a buzzer beater by Angelina Aberin in the second game of the season. The win gave them confidence that they can compete with anybody and has been a measuring stick for the rest of the season. The team chemistry and passion for the game is palpable with this group of players.

“What I believe is making this season successful so far is how bonded we are as a team and the amount of work we put into reaching our goals,” said junior guard Ava Knauer. “Five days a week, we have ‘breakfast club’ where we get shots up and work on our weaknesses before school even starts each day.”

The team has a nice mix of young and veteran talent. The junior class is their biggest with five student-athletes, many of whom have played major roles for the team in the last three seasons. They have four seniors as well.

The Lady Bulls are a very deep and talented team that can play with up to 13 players in any given game. They wear their opponents out with their athleticism and constant ball pressure. The deep roster also allows the team to have tough, competitive practices that prepare the team for success. They will attack the rim with their dribble-drive offense and kick out to their shooters if the layup isn’t there, and they have bags that clean up the glass with ease if necessary.

“What I enjoy most about playing for Bloomingdale is that everyone is so close to each other and there’s great team chemistry,” said junior point guard Aissatou (Aissa) Diallo. “Whenever someone is down, there’s always going to be someone to pick you up—always. One thing that I’ve learned so far at Bloomingdale that I never thought about is that every game is the biggest game of the year. Anyone can beat anyone on any given night, especially when you have a target on your back.”

Key players include senior point guard and co-captain Joline (JoJo) Raposo, junior guard Knauer, junior forward/center Kyrstin Wolff, junior point guard Diallo and senior guard and co-captain Kaylie Lewis.

“Our goal is to win a district title because I know how much it will mean to our coach, and he truly deserves it,” said Raposo. “It would mean a lot for the team because of everything we’ve been through so far. I know this is an expectation we all have for ourselves.”

Bloomingdale is led by 11-year Head Coach Joel Bower, who is very excited about his team’s chances of winning its first district championship since 1995. Bower is impressed with his team’s work ethic and love of the game. His team mantra that he’s been preaching to his players is to enjoy the journey because the journey is the destination. There is no doubt that the Lady Bulls are the team to beat in District 6A-11.

“I’m just excited for what the rest of the season will bring,” said Wolff. “Going through this with this team, my sisters, makes it even more exciting. Having such a deep bench, it doesn’t matter who is on the court, we are cheering. We know if one of us is down or off there will be another one there to pick us up. This group is closer than any team I’ve been on. It shows on and off the court.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.