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Citrus holds off Leopards

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 17, 2002


CRYSTAL RIVER -- On a night when Citrus defeated Hernando 68-63 to claim its first district title since 1990, Hurricanes coach Jimmy Thomas was quick to note that it had been a "team effort."

CRYSTAL RIVER -- On a night when Citrus defeated Hernando 68-63 to claim its first district title since 1990, Hurricanes coach Jimmy Thomas was quick to note that it had been a "team effort."

"Everybody came up with something big," Thomas said.

Especially sophomore guard Jamaal Galloway, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points, 12 in the fourth quarter as Hernando (15-13) made a spectacular charge.

Galloway hit five consecutive free throws in the final 58.2 seconds to save the day, the final two coming with 4.5 seconds left for a 66-63 lead.

Galloway's play was expected. Brandon Green's was not.

The junior center, who saw limited time in recent games, was inserted early in the second quarter and immediately took control inside. He finished with 13 points, most coming on offensive boards.

Green's play helped ignite a 10-0 Citrus run to close the half that gave the Hurricanes (23-5) a 31-24 lead.

"We were in a 3-2 zone and they were taking outside shots," Hernando coach Jeff Laing said. "But (Green) came in with that big body and got some easy putbacks."

Citrus took control in the third quarter with a solid inside-outside game. On the outside, Galloway, Joel Miller (17 points) and Chris Vihrachoff made things happen, and on the inside, Greg Covino and Green converted point-blank attempts.

Things went so well that Citrus opened up a 51-36 lead after three quarters.

But just as it did the previous night against Dunnellon, Hernando rallied. The Leopards scored 27 points in the final quarter and hit six 3-pointers -- four by Joel Steele. Jerrell Graham's 3-pointer with 5 seconds left cut the lead to 64-63, but Citrus scored the final four points.

"This team worked so hard," Vihrachoff said.

Citrus plays host to St. Augustine Menendez (17-12) Thursday in a regional quarterfinal. Hernando plays at St. Augustine Nease (27-3).

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