Lecanto advanced to the finals of the Class 2A, District 9 basketballtournament with a 65-45 win against host Dunnellon on Friday night, but the top-seeded Panthers were far from sharp.
Lecanto will meet No. 2 seed Wildwood, an 81-74 semifinal winner against No. 3 Central, in the championship game tonight at 7.
Dunnellon (11-12) trailed by 12 points, 25-13, with 3:15 left in the second quarter, but a 12-4 run pulled the Tigers to within four at halftime, 29-25.
"We got real sloppy toward the end of the (second) quarter and lost a little bit of our intensity," Lecanto coach Ron Allan said.
Lecanto (22-6) took control midway through the third quarter with an 11-0 run that gave the Panthers a 14-point lead, 44-30, with 1:48 left in the period.
"We turned up the tempo in the second half," Allan said. "We played better defensively."
Three Panthers finished in double figures: Terri Heindel with 14, Kristi Matthews 13 and Beth Vairo off the bench with 12.
In other semifinal action, Wildwood (13-7) used a 28-2 run in the second quarter to build what appeared to be a insurmountable halftime lead, 51-30.
But the Wildcats got in foul trouble, which allowed Central to make a fourth-quarter charge.
The Bears (13-12) out-scored the Wildcats 32-13 in the final period. Senior forward Leann Cornwell scored 15 of her game-high 35 points to bring the Bears within seven before time ran out.
"I was looking at the score and it kept dropping and dropping and
dropping," Wildwood coach Reggie Rocker said. "But I knew that if we could get by the third quarter with a decent lead that we could win the ball game."