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Clermont player scores 40, sinks Lecanto 82-57

All-state center Tonya Berry scored a career-high 40 points _ 20 in each half _ to lead Clermont to an 82-57 win over Lecanto in the Class 2A, Region V game Tuesday night. "We couldn't stop her," Lecanto coach Ron Allan said of Berry. "We didn't have anybody who could play her."

Clermont will face Wauchula-Hardee in the Section III game on Saturday.

The Highlanders (19-12) jumped out to a 12-2 lead midway through the opening period, as Berry connected on her first four attempts from the floor. Lecanto (23-7) pulled to within four with a six-point run.

But the Highlanders took charge in the second quarter, outscoring the Panthers 19-9 to take a 36-23 halftime lead.

The Panthers got their best opportunity to challenge the Highlanders' lead in the third period, when Berry and point guard Wendy Bridges were taken out of the game to rest. Six Panthers scored in the period as Lecanto pulled to within eight, 51-43.

Lecanto continued to chip away at Clermont's lead, cutting it to seven on a free throw by Christine Plutta with 6:13 left in the game.

But Clermont's Christy Surin hit a three-point basket with 4:44 left, boosting the lead to 58-48 and sparking the Highlanders.

Berry, who scored only four points in the third quarter, scored 16 in the fourth to help put the game out of Lecanto's reach.

"When you have an all-state player, that's who you need to come through and she did," Clermont coach Gary Russo said of Berry. "She came in at halftime and said she was as open as she had been for the last month and a half of the season."

Center Kristi Matthews led Lecanto with 13 points.