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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
LECANTO - Christmas came early for Drew Zimbro and his former Panthers.
The evening started with Lecanto honoring Zimbro, a 2005 graduate and Citrus County's lone Division I scholarship recipient, by retiring his No. 33. The Panthers followed that up with a 66-59 win against Citrus.
"I never thought as a little kid this would happen," said Zimbro, who is redshirting at Jacksonville University after being diagnosed with a heart problem.
After trailing 15-10 in the first quarter, Lecanto (7-1, 4-0 Class 4A, District 6) capitalized at the charity stripe and on its quickness to score 31 in the second for a 41-27 halftime lead. Mychal Nichols and Eddie Buckley led the charge, scoring 11 and 10 of their 17 and 19 respective points in the first half.
The Citrus defense tried to use mismatching sets to wreak havoc on Lecanto's offense, but ended up out of position.
"Our defense got out of synch and then we had some guys start getting on each other and that's when the wheels really fell off," Citrus coach Tom Densmore said.
In a closely officiated game, Citrus' (5-4, 4-2) lack of free-throw shooting, going 0-for-11 compared to Lecanto's 14-of-17, cost the 'Canes.
"It wasn't that we weren't getting any chances, we weren't making ours and they were," Densmore said.
Citrus' star senior, Walt Howard, scored 10 in the first half, before nearly doubling his total with 17 in the second after five clutch 3-pointers.
The 'Canes rallied late in the fourth quarter, pulling within two points.
Livingston, Pirates shrug off slow start
CRYSTAL RIVER - Taken out of the game briefly in the first quarter because he had missed a couple of shots, J.C. Livingston may have felt he had something to prove.
So with the Pirates leading by six midway through the third quarter, the 6-foot-5 senior received a pass from guard Steven D'Amico where the baseline meets the 3-point line. Livingston then dribbled a few times and converted an impressive dunk over a Central defender.
The play not only highlighted Crystal River's 50-39 win over Central, but it impressed many of Livingston's teammates.
"It's all natural for him," said Brennan McNally, a 6-foot teammate. "He'll have to teach me sometime. Maybe he can bend over and I'll jump off his back."
Despite their strong finish, the Pirates struggled initially against Central, and Bears forward Tim Plumadore took advantage of weak inside defense to score eight in the first quarter.
But Plumadore scored just two more the rest of the way, and Central (1-10) fizzled.
"We were sort of sluggish at first," Pirates coach Tony Stukes said. "We didn't come out with a lot of energy.
Crystal River (6-4) led by one after the first quarter, then Livingston emerged. He scored all of his 17 points in the final three quarters.
"He was the best player on the court," Stukes said. "But he didn't have a great game. He's capable of doing so much more."
Stukes, who stands about 5-foot-9, jokingly took credit for Livingston's high-flying dunk.
"He's been watching my highlight films," Stukes said.