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Hurricanes prove to be no match for Raiders

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


DUNNELLON -- Citrus coach Bruce Nelson was relieved.

Despite losing to third-ranked South Sumter 74-37 in the Class 3A, District 6 final, there was light at the end of the thumping. If Citrus sees South Sumter again -- and for the record, it hopes it doesn't have to -- it won't be until the regional final.

"They're good," Nelson said.

You could say that.

The win gives South Sumter (25-3) its fourth consecutive district title. The Raiders outrebounded Citrus 54-24 and forced 32 turnovers.

"We had tired legs. And they had fresh legs, and it showed," Nelson said. "We only had 24 hours rest (from Friday's semifinal), and 24 hours against that bunch isn't going to make it."

Despite the loss, Citrus (14-12) advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 1998. The Hurricanes play at Cross City Dixie County on Thursday in a first-round game.

South Sumter broke the game open in the second half. The Raiders, who led 35-20 at the half, started the third quarter on a 19-0 run. By the end of the quarter, it was 58-22.

"We came out after the half and really played well," South Sumter coach Gary Russo said. "We finally got dedicated. They wanted that fourth district title in a row. We played great defense. We played our game."

Early on, Citrus played its game.

The Hurricanes fell behind 7-2 but rallied to pull within 11-9 after one quarter on a three-pointer by Katie Steelfox. But Steelfox, who had been so strong in Friday's win over Dunnellon, went scoreless the rest of the way and finished with five points.

Alycia LePage, who scored 19 against Dunnellon, was held to six, which tied Brittany Doyle for team-high honors. Citrus, known for its outside shooting, hit one three-pointer.

Senior forward Ezria Parsons, an Auburn signee, scored 20 points and had 21 rebounds to pace the Raiders. Krystal McCullough added 12 points, and Kari McCullough chipped in with 11.

"(Parsons) was tremendous tonight," Nelson said. "We tried everything to slow her down."

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