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Bulldogs, Gators, Rams, Hurricanes win in 3A-7

Tournament time means a fresh start for teams. Zephyrhills' girlsbasketball team took advantage of that fact Thursday, eliminating Hernando from the Class 3A, District 7 tournament by a 58-37 score.

Land O'Lakes - the tourney's top seed and host - survived a scare to defeat Springstead 40-36 in the day's final game.

In the opening game, Ridgewood defeated Pasco 41-38. Citrus held on to eliminate Hudson 45-42 in the second contest.

Semifinal play is tonight at Land O'Lakes High School. Zephyrhills (7-20) plays Citrus (17-8) at 6 p.m., and Ridgewood (12-10) faces Land O'Lakes (19-4) at 8.

Hernando finished the regular season 20-6 overall and was the defending district champion. The Leopards spent most of the season ranked in the Class 3A high school girls poll.

Zephyrhills opened the game with an 11-0 run and shot 13-of-22 from the floor in building a 40-11 halftime lead. Hernando had three starters in foul trouble.

"This is the type of game I've waited for all season," Bulldogs coach Ernie Pittman said. "Sometimes we get the ball inside and can't pack a lunch with it. This time, we were able to score."

Land O'Lakes entered the fourth quarter trailing Springstead 34-30.

An 8-0 run gave the Gators the advantage.

Springstead guard Sharron Washington's jumper with 2:10 left left the Eagles down 38-36. Moments later, Land O'Lakes' Kim Bowers missed a one-and-one try, but Washington's jumper fell short and Land O'Lakes was awarded possession on a jump ball. After a deliberate foul by Springstead, Land O'Lakes' Mandi Stagg hit two free throws with five seconds left to preserve her team's victory.

The first two games of the day went down to the wire.

Pasco's Pirates closed within one point but could not catch Ridgewood. In the fourth quarter, the Rams earned their biggest lead - 37-29 - before Pasco made its final run.

With his team trailing 41-35 with less than 30 seconds to play, Pasco's Janay Jones canned a three-point basket to close the gap to three. After Pasco fouled purposely, Ridgewood's Chrissy Mourtakos missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left.

Shamalene Wilson missed a three-point try at the buzzer that would have tied the score.

Mourtakos scored a game-high 14 points. Pasco, which finished 13-10, was led by Wilson's 10 points.

Late in the fourth quarter, Citrus led Hudson 43-34. Tara O'Connor scored the Cobras' final eight points get Hudson close.

The Cobras fouled purposely twice in the final 15 seconds. With five seconds left, Citrus' Cheri Stetkar missed a one-and-one try and Hudson rebounded. O'Connor was unable to get off a three-point attempt, and time expired.

Despite the loss, O'Connor scored a game-high 27 points for Hudson.