CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 6: Citrus trails early, but takes charge in the third quarter for the win.
By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2003
INVERNESS -- After watching his squad defeat Dunnellon 71-52 Saturday to win its second straight title, Hurricanes coach Jimmy Thomas offered this assessment: "We can be pretty explosive at times."
Ninth-ranked Citrus (25-2), the top seed, trailed nearly the entire first half against the third-seeded Tigers. But the Hurricanes used a 36-9 run over a nine-minute stretch to turn things in their favor. The shot that really got things going came from -- guess who -- junior guard Jamaal Galloway. His 3-pointer to beat the buzzer in the second quarter pulled the 'Canes within two.
They trailed by 11 only 90 seconds earlier.
"That one put us back on top," Citrus forward Greg Covino said. "That really gave us confidence. It turned the game around."
Galloway hit four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points.
"We got the ball with four seconds left," Galloway said. "That's plenty of time. I had a lot of confidence."
Dunnellon (13-15) was never the same.
Citrus took control in the third quarter behind Galloway and Covino (15 points). Meantime, the Hurricanes defense also went to work.
Dunnellon forward Tei Thomas (23) repeatedly burned the Hurricanes' triangle-and-two set in the first half. But in the third quarter, Citrus switched to a 1-2-2 zone, which effectively stopped the Tigers' inside attack.
"Our defense got us going," Galloway said. "We just stopped them from doing whatever they wanted to do."
Citrus beat Dunnellon 83-41 the last time they played, but the Tigers got off to a fast start Saturday. Marty Allen made a 3-pointer 11 seconds into the game and Thomas responded with a 3-pointer at the 6:27 mark for a 6-0 lead. Dunnellon led 18-17 after one quarter, then went on a 13-3 run to go up 31-20.
A layup by Covino, followed by two free throws and a layup from Galloway made it 31-26. At 33-28, Galloway got separation from his defender and drained the shot to ignite the crowd.
"That was a big one," Thomas said. "He hit a beautiful shot. That really changed the momentum."
Citrus will host St. Augustine Nease in a region quarterfinal Thursday.