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Central shocks Lecanto to reach 4A-6 final

The Bears will meet the Leopards for the title tonight.

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- It was hard to tell if Tamara Tatham was more excited about Central making the state playoffs or the prospect of seeing her coach as a blond.

Tatham served the final four points of Central's 15-13, 11-15, 15-11 upset of state-ranked Lecanto in the Class 4A, District 6 semifinals, ending the Panthers' season abruptly and putting the Bears in the playoffs for only the second time in school history.

"He made us a bet. We make the playoffs; he dyes his hair blond," Tatham said of coach Jim Jensen, who had dark stubble peeking through a bald head Wednesday. "He's going blond, baby!"

Jensen, who lost six seniors from a 10-16 team last year, said he would be glad to honor his agreement considering his players held up their end of the deal.

"The girls have been dying to do this, no pun intended," he said. "Usually, you make the bet to shave the guy's head. Since my head's already shaven, they're going to make me look like (rapper) Slim Shady, I guess.

"My wife's going to kill me. I'll probably be sleeping on the couch, but I'll be sleeping good after tonight."

Central (14-12) will face top-seeded Hernando (17-1) in today's 6 p.m. final. The Leopards, ranked fourth in the state among Class 4A schools, ended Springstead's season with a 15-9, 15-7 victory in the second semifinal.

Jensen's team had been hovering around .500 for most of the season, but he reminded his players before the district tournament that they were two wins away from making history.

"I think the girls wanted it a little bit more," he said. "Tonight, we played the most complete match of the season. I told the girls Monday that we might not look back fondly on a 12-12 record, but you know what? You win two at districts, and nobody's going to care about your record. They'll be thinking about how we made it to the playoffs."

Lecanto (21-4) needed three games in both regular-season victories over Central and was nearly upset in Tuesday's opening round, trailing 10-3 in the third game against winless Dunnellon. "We win as a team. We lose as a team, but not everyone had their best game tonight obviously," coach Karen Dickson said. "Wanting it so badly doesn't do it if you don't produce."

Junior Jill Bandhauer, who had a match-high 10 kills, had four hitting errors in the final game as well as one of the Panthers' five service errors. Lecanto's seniors had made the state playoffs the past three seasons but saw their prep careers end Wednesday.

"In my opinion, we never really realized the potential of this team," Dickson said. "Not everybody ever played well together at the same time, and we really needed that to happen tonight."

Hernando's victory over Springstead included a 20-minute delay as officials, scorekeepers and coaches sought to straighten out a question concerning Hernando's rotation. Springstead claimed the Leopards served out of order but didn't question it until several points had passed.

"We lost a whole serve, which changed the game dramatically," said Springstead coach Steve Davey, whose team trailed Hernando 11-3 at the time of the delay. "All it takes is one momentum change."

Hernando coach Dena Frye maintained that even if such a mistake was made, it wasn't picked up until several points later, too long for points to be taken off the scoreboard.

"What they were trying to say was that we served out of rotation, but we had already served a couple of times since then. You can't go back that far," Frye said. "You can't do anything with it. I was concerned (about the delay), especially with volleyball and momentum. In a game like this that ends somebody's season, I'd rather they get it right.

"Unfortunately, Springstead's coach blames it on the officials. I don't think so. We were unstoppable tonight."

Davey was so frustrated by the officiating that he called a timeout just to walk to the official's stand and discuss the matter. An assistant coach was given a yellow card for comments made toward officials, and Davey had his share after the match.

"They had a seventh man on the court in the officials," said Davey, who also took his glasses off and squinted at officials in the second game. "In the second game, the three balls over here (called in by a line judge) were out. I don't care what anybody says.

"People on the sideline could see it, and the man on the net, I have problems with him. The officiating was very discouraging."

Hernando, playing its first match in two weeks, showed little rust, getting nine kills from Chrissy Hartley and Ellen Widboom.

The Leopards swept Central in two meetings this season, and Frye said she's looking forward to an all-Brooksville final.

"It's a Hernando County championship," she said. "I think it's great. We're ready. The girls will be all the more pumped up to play them.

"I think we played our best game all year tonight."

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