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Boys basketball district tournaments preview

By EMILY NIPPS and DAWN REISS
Published February 13, 2005


CLASS 4A-9

TEAMS: Central, Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto, Leesburg, South Lake and Springstead.

HOST: Citrus.

SCHEDULE: Wednesday - Citrus vs. Crystal River, 5 p.m.; South Lake vs. Central, 6:30; Springstead vs. Lecanto, 8. Friday - Lecanto-Springstead winner vs. Leesburg, 6 p.m.; Citrus-Crystal River winner vs. South Lake-Central winner 7:30. Saturday - Championship, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: This district is about as up for grabs as it gets, with each team bearing at least two or more losses to other 4A-9 squads. Leesburg (10-2) has the best shot at a title, but Citrus could outplay the Yellow Jackets if the two wind up in the final.

Central dropped in the seedings after its top player, Alex Ruoff (30 points per game), became plagued with injuries halfway through the season. The Bears will have a tough time against South Lake, which has been inconsistent but shows up in big games. Springstead and Lecanto, both 6-6 in the district, may be the best matchup to watch.

CLASS 3A-6

TEAMS: Hernando, Nature Coast, Pasco, South Sumter and Wildwood.

HOST: Nature Coast.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday - Hernando vs. Nature Coast, 7 p.m. Friday - Wildwood vs. South Sumter, 6 p.m.; Pasco vs. Hernando-Nature Coast winner, 7:30 . Saturday - Championship, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: With talent-laden Pasco in the pool, the two Hernando County teams may not have much chance of moving beyond the semifinals. There is some hope, though, for Hernando. The Leopards have taken on a new look with the addition of Jeff Brown, the athletic senior who missed most of the season due to injuries and eligibility issues. With him, Hernando could make a return trip to regionals.

A Pasco-Wildwood final is the most likely scenario, but South Sumter will be no easy match for Wildwood. Nature Coast is hoping to add a sixth victory to its record by beating Hernando, a team the Sharks defeated earlier this season.

CLASS A-5

TEAMS: Cedar Key, Hernando Christian, Ocala St. John Lutheran and Seven Rivers Christian.

HOST: Cedar Key.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday - Seven Rivers Christian vs. Hernando Christian, 6 p.m.; St. John Lutheran vs. Cedar Key, 7:30. Saturday - Championship, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Second-seeded Seven Rivers Christian turned some heads after almost upsetting Class 4A Citrus on Feb. 7 in a 59-49 loss. The Warriors are led by junior guard Cory Ludwick, who averages 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Sophomore guard Justin Richardson and senior forward Tony Watson produce 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds per game, respectively. Junior guard Taylor Swander steals frequently (1.6 average). With such a small district, Seven Rivers has to win just one game to advance to the regional. The Warriors had their best season in 2001, when they won 55-49 in overtime against The Rock in a region quarterfinal before falling to Laurel Hill in the semifinals. Seven Rivers never has captured a district championship but was a runner-up last season after a two-year drought. A season ago, the Warriors lost 55-39 to All Saints in the first round.

[Last modified February 13, 2005, 01:07:16]


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