Lecanto has Tiger by tail tonight
By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
The hottest team in Class 4A, District 7 is Dunnellon.
The Tigers (15-6, 7-0 in 4A-7) locked up the top seed for next month's district tournament with two impressive wins last week, beating North Marion 60-51 on Tuesday and Citrus 74-49 three days later.
Dunnellon's win against North Marion avenged a humiliating 64-35 loss to the Colts in last month's Kingdom of the Sun tournament in Ocala. The loss doesn't count toward the Tigers' district record because it came in a tournament.
In that event, Dunnellon played without leading scorer Stanley Jackson, who was serving a two-game suspension.
Jackson torched North Marion for 25 points last week. Then, he scored 34 against Citrus -- a team that held him to a combined 27 points in two previous meetings.
"(Dunnellon) is playing better than it has all season, and it was mentally ready to play," Hurricanes coach Jimmy Thomas said.
"They had one thing on their mind and that was taking care of us, and that's what they did," Thomas said. "Stanley played hard. Of the three games we've played, that's the hardest he's played."
Tonight, Lecanto (10-6, 4-3) gets another shot at Dunnellon. When the teams played in mid-December, Dunnellon won 93-86 in overtime to stop a six-game Panthers winning streak. Since that loss, Lecanto is 4-6.
"I don't feel like we're playing defense as well as we played before Christmas break," Panthers coach Chris Nichols said. "We've hit a stretch where we're not getting it done on defense."
The last thing a team struggling on defense needs to see is Jackson on the other side of the court. At last check, the senior guard was averaging 32 points a game.
WIDE OPEN: Despite Dunnellon's perfect district record, several area coaches think the 4A-7 tournament will be competitive.
"After our game with Lake Weir, (Hurricanes coach) Mike Surber said that anybody can beat anybody at any given time, and that's true," Lecanto's Nichols said. "Anything can happen in this district. I'm not counting anybody out, and I'm especially not counting ourselves out."
The district tournament begins Feb. 14.
THE SQUIRE'S STORY: Seven Rivers Christian guard Frankie Squire, the Warriors' leading scorer, drew high praise from Nichols after a recent loss to Lecanto.
The 5-foot-9 senior scored 24 points and is averaging more than 15 a game.
"Frankie plays hard," Nichols said. "He goes after it hard, and that's the one thing I really respect."
Is Squire good enough to play for the bigger schools?
"Oh yeah, he definitely could," Nichols said. "He's a good shooter and, regardless of his size, he's a good player.
"We have a good amount of respect for his shooting. He can hit the three-pointer, and he's deceptive because he jumps well for his size."
NO GAME, NO PROBLEM: Citrus (9-10, 2-6) was scheduled to play Ocala Forest last Saturday in the Diamondback Rattler Challenge in Belleview, but tournament organizers had other ideas.
At the last minute, the Hurricanes were replaced by state-ranked Alachua Santa Fe.
"We told them we would help them out and we got into (the tournament), but then they changed things around," Thomas said.
"They ended up finding somebody else. In a way, I was disappointed, but in a way, I wasn't. Certainly, you want to play as much as you can."
NOTEWORTHY: Lecanto, the county's best rebounding team, gave up 10 offensive boards and was outrebounded 26-19 by Lake Weir in a recent 72-65 loss.
Boys games this week
TODAY: North Marion at Crystal River, 7 p.m.; Loften at Seven Rivers Christian, 7; Lecanto at Dunnellon, 7.
WEDNESDAY: Springstead at Citrus, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY: Ocala Shores Christian at Seven Rivers Christian, 7 p.m.; Crystal River at Lecanto, 7; Citrus at Lake Weir, 7:30.
Coaches are to call in results to (800) 333-7505, ext. 8123 as soon as possibleafter games.
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