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Pirates' Hall takes on girls basketball

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 23, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- The season before Brent Hall became Crystal River baseball coach, the Pirates won seven games. In his second year, they reached the Class 3A final four.

Now, after giving life to one program, he hopes to do the same for another -- girls basketball.

Hall recently accepted an offer to replace outgoing coach Norris Lightsey, who wasn't retained after posting an 11-39 record in two seasons. Hall will continue to coach baseball.

"I feel like we can do a lot better," Hall said. "We just have to master the fundamentals. We're planning on winning the district championship. We're not going into this to be .500. We're going in to win. And we can if the girls are committed."

Hall was Jacksonville Arlington Country Day School's girls coach in 1999-2000. He went 32-3 and led the Apaches to a Class A regional semifinal. In high school, he lettered in baseball and basketball at Fernandina Beach.

"My nickname was "The 25-point man,' " Hall said. "The coach would only put me in when we were up by 25 or down by 25."

Hall will be assisted by Teri Moore.

Crystal River had a 7-18 mark last season, but Hall will have several experienced players. Senior guard Casandra Vega was a Times All-Citrus/Hernando pick after averaging 13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.7 steals and 2 assists. Also back are junior post players Jennifer MacRae and Kellie McKinley.

"The main thing I know is how to motivate kids and to utilize the talent you have," Hall said. "I believe in a very fast-paced, up-and-down game that kids like playing and people like watching."

Hall, 55-10 in two seasons as baseball coach, isn't worried one sport will cut into his time with the other. He is confident Crystal River baseball assistants Bob Croyle, Mike Hampton, Bruce Jeffrey and Steve Johnson can help as he juggles his schedule in February and March, when basketball and baseball overlap.

"There's no way I'm ever going to short-cut either team," Hall said. "If I didn't feel like I could do both adequately, I wouldn't have accepted the position."

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