By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 21, 2001
LECANTO -- After shooting 23 percent from the field and scoring 32 points -- 30 below its season average -- in a recent loss, Lecanto desperately needed some shots to fall against Crystal River.
They did, and the result was impressive.
Behind four players who scored in double figures, the Panthers cruised to a 70-47 win. By the 5:28 mark of the second quarter, Lecanto had topped its score from its last game.
"Our whole team was there," Panthers center Dalton Meyers said. "It was good to have a team effort. There were no distractions. We were all focused and ready to go."
Lecanto (5-2) never trailed, and needed only about a quarter and a half to shake off the Pirates (0-8). Crystal River hung close early by hitting two 3-pointers in the first 4 minutes and trailed just 10-9, but the Panthers went on a 14-5 run to close the quarter thanks in large part to the efforts of Meyers. The 6-foot-2 senior came off the bench to score eight first-quarter points and finished with a game-high 16.
"We got a good boost off the bench," Lecanto coach Chris Nichols said. "Dalton got us going."
Lecanto poured it on in the second quarter.
Behind a tenacious fullcourt press, the Panthers forced numerous turnovers that led to easy buckets. Panthers forward Curtis Laytart, who scored 12 points, capped the half by hitting a 3-pointer as he was fouled. He made the free throw to give Lecanto a 44-22 halftime lead.
"Lecanto's pressure got to us," Pirates coach Tony Stukes said. "You've got to give it to them. We stayed with them for a while, but, unfortunately, we moved the ball better early (on offense) than late. We've got to control the ball better."
The third and fourth quarters were more of the same. Lecanto was far from perfect, but forced enough turnovers and made enough shots to make sure Crystal River never got close.
"Defensively, we picked it up a notch," Nichols said. "With us, if we can get the other team to turn it over, we're in good shape."
Offensively, the Panthers did pretty well, too.
Aside from Meyers and Laytart, they got good production from center Teddy Gauthier (13 points) and guard Kyle Hamilton (12). Guard Jeff Yearwood added nine points and hit two fourth-quarter 3-pointers.
Crystal River was led by guard Scott Miller, who made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points. Ryan McNally went 9 of 12 from the foul line and added 12 points.