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Team disappointment is tempered by hope

Citrus High girls basketball coach Bruce Nelson was still a little down in the mouth Monday after his team's 42-38 loss to Ridgewood in the Class 3A, District 7 final at Land O'Lakes on Saturday. "It's never fun to lose a close ball game in the district finals," he said. "But I'm proud of my bunch. We had a little bit of tournament jitters. We were excited about the opportunity.

"We let ourselves get too far behind," added Nelson, whose club trailed 21-8 at the half.

The Hurricanes (18-9) lose only two players from a team that set a school mark for wins. The previous high was 15, reached several times, Nelson said.

"I really have five starters coming back, and a 13-1 jayvee coming up," Nelson said. "Potentially, if we get everybody back out and focus on basketball .


. we along with Zephyrhills should have the best situations."

Hudson's O'Connor sets scoring mark

LAND O'LAKES _ Although Hudson was defeated by Citrus in a first-round Class 3A, District 7 girls basketball game, Tara O'Connor was able to reach a milestone.

In Hudson's 45-42 loss to Citrus, O'Connor, a senior, scored a game-high 27 points, setting a team career mark with 512 points.

"With all the things that have happened to us this season, it's good that she did that," Hudson coach Linda McQuade said of O'Connor. "She really deserves it."

Bears ended with a gutsy showing

DUNNELLON _ Central girls basketball coach Joy Greene would love to take responsibility for her team's come-from-behind effort in an 81-74 loss to Wildwood in the semifinals of the Class 2A, District 9 tournament Friday night. But she knows the Bears' 32-point fourth-quarter charge took more than sound coaching.

"They played their hearts out," Greene said. "That's something you can't teach. They've got guts."

The Bears (12-13) trailed 68-42 at the start of the fourth quarter, when they began their offensive surge. Senior Leann Cornwell scored 15 of her game-high 35 points in the final period.

Tigers look ahead after 2A-9 tournament

DUNNELLON _ Dunnellon girls basketball coach Archie Bankston was not pleased after the Tigers' 65-45 loss to Lecanto in the semifinals of the Class 2A, District 9 tournament Friday night, but there was some good news.

"I told them in the locker room that the seniors had their time and just to get ready for next year," Bankston said. "We won about eight or nine more ball games than I thought we would."

The Tigers finished the season 11-12.

"We have eight of 12 coming back next year," Bankston said. "Then seven come back the year after that and five the year after that."

Girls tournament was full of close calls

LAND O'LAKES _ Before the Class 3A, District 7 girls basketball tournament at Land O'Lakes last week, observers said all nine teams had a shot to win the title.

The balance of the field was no mirage. Seven of the eight games were decided by four points or fewer. Four games were decided in the final minute.

Defending 3A-7 champion Hernando suffered the worst loss, 58-37 to Zephyrhills on Thursday.

Riley leads Trinity to 6-point win

NEW PORT RICHEY _ Trinity College's Keir Riley scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 97-91 victory over Clearwater Christian on Saturday night.

The Tigers (21-12) led 45-42 at halftime and got 18 points and 14 rebounds from Ronald Laing. Trinity plays Piedmont College tonight in a National Christian College Athletic Association playoff game at Warner Southern College, Lakeland.