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By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000
INVERNESS -- Top-ranked South Sumter was as good as advertised.
So was Ezria Parsons.
The senior center and Auburn signee scored a game-high 27 points and recorded four blocks as the Raiders, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, beat Citrus 66-35. South Sumter improved to 11-1 overall and 4-0 in Class 3A, District 6. Citrus, which had won four consecutive games, fell to 5-3 (3-1 in 3A-6). "We saw a good team tonight," Citrus coach Bruce Nelson said.
That's an understatement.
South Sumter, led by three starters who are 6 feet or taller, controlled the inside all night and also had success running the floor. Many of the Raiders' points were set up by strong defensive stands out of a zone defense that frustrated Citrus.
South Sumter built an 18-4 first-quarter lead and stretched the margin to 29 points at the half behind Parson's 18.
"I thought at times we played well, especially in the first half," South Sumter coach Gary Russo said. "(Parsons) plays well all the time. We have other kids capable of doing things, and she gets them the ball. She makes me look good."
Citrus center/forward Julia Lambeck, the team's leading scorer, missed the game with the flu. Without Lambeck, the Hurricanes had no answer for Parsons on either end of the court.
"(Parsons) is a good one," Nelson said. "It was neat to see her play."
In the third quarter, though, it was a case of too little too late. Citrus finally got into the flow of the game. It outscored South Sumter 15-10 as Kristin Berger hit two three-pointers and scored eight of her team-high nine points.
Katie Steelfox added five points in the quarter as Citrus cut the lead to 24 points.
Despite the third-quarter success, South Sumter remained in control throughout.
"It was a good learning experience," Nelson said. "Some of the good teams and mediocre teams we play, we can get away with some of the stuff we did tonight. But against a great team, you can't get away with it."
EAGLE SCORES 45: Springstead's Steve Ferguson broke a school record by scoring 45 points in a 77-47 victory over Zephyrhills, topping Ryan O'Connell's 43 in 1990. Of the 45, 37 came in the second half.