NEW PORT RICHEY — Most all-star games feature flashy dunks or nifty passing to set up easy layups or open 3-pointers.
But Tuesday's all-star matchup between the Pasco All-Stars and Citrus/Hernando All-Stars didn't have all the pizazz.
Instead, turnovers and rusty play had to suffice for fans as the teams combined for 41 turnovers and the game's only dunk came from Wiregrass Ranch's Eric Williams in the third quarter with 4:25 remaining. Hudson guard Chris Russo, who came off the bench and scored 13, 11 in the fourth quarter, helped the Pasco All-Stars squeeze out an 81-77 win over Citrus/Hernando.
"I just tried to get open and make the open shots," Russo said. "Coaches did a good job getting me into the game and relying on me to come through, and I'm happy I did."
After taking a 20-14 lead after one quarter, the Pasco All-Stars seemed to have blown open the game, building a 31-18 advantage with 6:20 left before halftime. The Citrus/Hernando squad would slowly chip away at the lead, behind Lecanto's Dresdian Grippe (25 points), who earned MVP honors for Citrus/Hernando. Pasco's lead was reduced to 45-44 after a Chase Shinn (nine points) 3-pointer and less than four minutes later Citrus/Hernando took its first lead on a Jarvis Carter (four rebounds) layup.
But the fourth quarter would belong to Russo, as the Hudson senior calmly sank clutch shot after clutch shot to help reclaim the lead and preserve the win. Nature Coast's Adam Smith finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
"I think when (Russo) got hot that really energized everybody," Pasco All-Stars coach Gary Anders said.