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Lake Weir too quick for Hernando

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- A season of over-achievement ended against a stifling press and the multitude of turnovers it forced on Thursday, as Lake Weir's defense sparked a 62-50 win over Hernando in the Class 4A, Region 2 quarterfinals.

Lake Weir (14-17), the District 7 runner-up, got its second 12-point win of the season against the Leopards with 20 points off 18 turnovers.

Hernando (15-16) struggled both with the Hurricanes' 2-3 zone and the press they employed when the Leopards twice made the game close in the second half.

A 41-31 rebounding shortfall compounded matters for Hernando.

"We just didn't handle (the press)," said Leopards coach Charlie Williams, who was in his first regional.

"To be honest, I thought they would press more. We had way too many turnovers, and you can't score if you don't have the ball."

Another defensive switch stopped Hernando for good with 3:23 left in the game.

After Leopards guard Jerrell Graham scored his 10th point of the second half -- with a deep 3-pointer -- to cut the deficit to 49-40, Lake Weir coach Mike Surber called timeout to switch to a box-and-one.

Graham, who scored a career-high 34 in the district semifinals, hit just two foul shots thereafter as the Hurricanes finished on a 22-11 run.

He finished with a team-high 15 points.

"We tried not to let Jerrell get in the game too much," Surber said. "We felt that was key: holding him down, and we tried to keep it away from him."

Joel Steele (13 points) was the only other Leopard in double-figures.

The defeat extended Hernando's streak of consecutive regional losses to four.

The Leopards have not advanced past the quarterfinals since 1967.

Chris Crumpler (game-high 22 points) and David Hampton (16) paced Lake Weir both offensively and defensively by forcing turnovers near the high point and filling lanes for uncontested fastbreak points.

Lake Weir, which started the season 1-8, advances to play the winner of the Bayside (17-10) and Palatka (16-5) quarterfinal.

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