Crystal River takes out rival

The scoreboard read: Crystal River 52, Citrus 43.

Published January 13, 2007

INVERNESS - As Crystal River senior Jay Winborne walked off Citrus' court, a small smile spread across his face. The scoreboard read: Crystal River 52, Citrus 43.

"It was extremely intense," Winborne said. "Coach didn't have to say anything in the locker room but 'Citrus.' Our eyes just lit up and we wanted to play. We knew what we had to do tonight."

Both Citrus coach Tom Densmore and Crystal River's Dustin Danziesen received technical fouls in the third quarter. Danziesen, who led the Pirates with 14 points, was given a technical for intentionally fouling Citrus forward Craig Augustine. Densmore's came after Citrus' Justin Nance dove for a lose ball with Crystal River' Pat Edwards late in the third. The officials called Nance for a personal foul, followed by loud boos from the crowd when an outraged Densmore earned his technical.

After the technical, Crystal River (7-8, 4-5 Class 4A-6) increased its lead to 39-32 by the end of the third. The Pirates converted 24 of 32 free throws, while Citrus (6-11, 2-7) only scored on two free throws.

Absent from the game was Citrus senior forward Dwann Ross. Densmore said Ross cannot play the rest of the season after getting ejected after two technical fouls in Tuesday's game against West Port. It is was his second ejection of the season.

Pirate girls prevail

INVERNESS - Crystal River senior Ashley Clark stopped her teammates before they left the locker room for the second half.

She put it plainly. "Ladies, look, this is Citrus. I don't want to lose. Let's win."

She got the chance to stand by those words, stepping to the free-throw line with a 4-point lead with a few minutes to play. All she could remember was her awful free-throw performance from the other night.

"I was just praying I was gonna make them," Clark said.

She went 6-for-6 (7-of-8 for the game) in the closing minutes, helping the Pirates to a 44-36 win. No team led by more then four in the first half, but the Pirates' inside trio soon took over. Combined with Clark's 11 points and four steals, Brandy Worlton (13 points, five blocks, four rebounds), Taleisha Hopkins (15 points, seven rebounds), and Alicia Davis (seven points, seven rebounds) helped Crystal River outscore Citrus 33-22 in the second half.

Citrus coach Eli Jackson's decision to switch to a man-to-man defense early in the second half backfired as Crystal River (7-10, 4-6 Class 4A-6) went on a quick 5-0 run. Citrus (6-13, 3-7) was led by Shannon Candeleri (13 points) and Rachel Fults (10 points).

Phil Kegler, Times correspondent

Panthers in first

OCALA - Lecanto took Ocala West Port's best shot, then delivered a knockout blow in a key Class 4A-6 boys matchup.

The Panthers survived 31 points and 7 of 8 shooting from 3-point range during the third quarter from the Wolf Pack and responded with a 15-0 run that overlapped the final two quarters on their way to an 82-71 win.

"We shot the ball very well in the second half," said coach Chris Nichols, whose Panthers improved to 14-3 and moved into a tie with West Port for the district top spot 8-1. "Overall, this was a great team victory for us and now we have to go out and take care of business the rest of the way.

West Port (14-2, 8-1), which saw its school-record 10-game win streak snapped, led 57-50 with 59 seconds left in the third, but Lecanto scored the final seven points of the quarter, including a long 3 at the buzzer by Brian Hamer. The Panthers then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter and led 65-57 with 6:11 left. Lecanto, which shot 17-of-27 in the second half, led by as many as 13 in the final quarter before seeing West Port get as close as six.

Jared Brantley scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds to pace the Panthers, who had all five starters in double figures.

Richard Burton, Times correspondent