LECANTO — Citrus and Land O'Lakes will play for the Class 4A, District 8 title after the Hurricanes beat Hernando 42-38, and the Gators knocked out Wiregrass Ranch 55-49 Friday.
Hernando went on a 12-2 run in the second quarter, overcoming an early 14-7 deficit as the Leopards took a 3-point lead into the half, but a 21-point third quarter by Citrus (21-5) proved too much for the Leopards (14-9).
Neither team made a field goal in the fourth quarter after combining for 38 third-quarter points, but the 'Canes were able to outshoot the Leopards 5-2 at the free-throw line in the final quarter.
Leopards senior forward Stefanie White led both teams in scoring with 14 points, while Hernando senior forward Malea Kalina added 11 and a team-high eight rebounds.
Despite being ahead by as many as nine in the second quarter, Land O'Lakes (21-2) also needed a comeback after finding itself down 46-42 midway into the fourth quarter.
Gators senior point guard Shanel Sweet, who led her team with 17 points, made six consecutive free throws in the final minutes. Wiregrass senior guard Jeileen Mas Rodriguez finished with a game-high 22 points.
Freedom 68, Sickles 65: Moments after the Class 5A, District 9 championship game, Freedom coach Laurie Pacholke said she would put her starting five up against any team in that would play them.
Especially if it were five against two.
Freedom had four of its five put up double figures and the Patriots played just enough defense to get past an Amber Henson/Bre Crum-led Sickles team 68-65 Friday .
For the Patriots (18-5), the win was validation they could defeat rival Sickles with the dominant Henson in the lineup. Freedom blasted Sickles by 37 in December when the Duke University-bound Henson was nursing a knee injury. Led by Henson and Crum two weeks ago, Sickles returned the favor, beating Freedom by 22 .
"We know our five was better than their five," said Pacholke. "This is a special team. We fight harder than any team and tonight our focus really was on defense."
Rod Gipson, Times correspondent