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4A-7 championship is up for grabs

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2001


LECANTO -- At typical district tournaments, two or three teams have realistic shots of winning.

This week in Lecanto, there are five.

By most accounts, the Class 4A, District 7 tournament is wide open. Dunnellon went 9-1 against district opponents, but few think the Tigers are invincible.

"On any given night, I'm telling you, anything could happen," Citrus coach Jimmy Thomas said.

That may be true, but make no mistake, Dunnellon is the pre-tournament favorite.

The Tigers (19-8) went 6-0 against Citrus County teams and recently defeated a strong Class 5A Belleview squad.

The district's top-seeded team has the area's top player in senior guard Stanley Jackson, a four-year starter averaging 28.7 points a game.

"Any one of three, four or five teams could win it," North Marion coach Tim Brinkley said. "But you've got to give the edge to Dunnellon, because it ran the regular-season gamut."

Second-seeded North Marion (19-9, 7-3), a yearly playoff contender, perhaps is the district's most athletic team.

The Colts enter the tournament having won six straight games and seven of their past nine.

One North Marion opponent in its last nine has scored 50 or more points.

"I think we're playing our best basketball of the year," Brinkley said. "We've really stepped up in the last two and a half weeks."

Third-seeded Lake Weir (11-16) went 4-2 against Citrus County squads and features Marion County's second-leading scorer, guard Chris Crumpler, who averages 20.8 points per game.

Lake Weir has something no other district team has -- a win over Dunnellon. The Hurricanes played well in two regular-season games against North Marion, both narrow defeats.

Fourth-seeded Lecanto (14-9) and No. 5 Citrus (13-12) have had their moments.

Lecanto beat North Marion early in the season. Citrus has a victory against Lecanto, one against Lake Weir and lost to North Marion once in overtime.

The only team that does not figure to have a shot is Crystal River (1-21). Then again, the Pirates played their best game of the season last week in an upset win against Seven Rivers Christian.

The tournament opens with a game between Crystal River and Lake Weir, but takes off in tonight's second game, when Citrus plays arch-rival Lecanto.

The winner moves on, but will have the task of facing Dunnellon on Friday in one semifinal.

"It's going to be a hard week," Citrus' Thomas said.

Citrus and Lecanto split the regular-season series as each squad won on the other team's home court.

In December, Lecanto won 64-54 as center Chris Jackson scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. In January, Citrus escaped with a 64-60 win behind Jamal Galloway's 25 points.

"We know it's going to be a tough game at their place," Thomas said. "We're going to have to play well."

Class 4A, District 7 boys basketball tournament

  • AT LECANTO
  • SEEDINGS
  • 1. Dunnellon (19-8, 9-1)
  • 2. North Marion (19-9, 7-3)
  • 3. Lake Weir (11-16, 5-5)
  • 4. Lecanto (14-9, 5-5)
  • 5. Citrus (13-12, 4-6)
  • 6. Crystal River (1-21, 0-10)

SCHEDULE

  • TODAY: Crystal River vs. Lake Weir, 6 p.m.; Citrus vs. Lecanto, 7:30.
  • FRIDAY: Dunnellon vs. Citrus-Lecanto winner, 6 p.m.; North Marion vs. Lake Weir-Crystal River winner, 7:30.
  • SATURDAY: Final, 7:30 p.m.

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