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At long last, Leto: Falcons get past Jefferson in 3 OTs

Leto coach Don Dziagwa, who has been waiting for a win since Jan. 12, wasn't in the mood to get finicky Thursday night. Good thing, too, because his Falcons made the wait excruciating in the opening round of the Class 4A, District 6 boys basketball tournament at Chamberlain.

Leading Jefferson by 15 points late in the third quarter, Leto squandered its cushion, came back to force overtime, then eked out a 92-88 victory in three overtimes.

"Wasn't that something," said Dziagwa, whose fifth-seeded club entered the post-season with eight straight losses. "That was a heck of a game. Both teams played their hearts out. We're up 15 points and we just turned the ball over too many times. But we hung, we hung, we hung, and we finally came back. I don't even want to think about the fact that we've got to come back here and play (top-seeded) Chamberlain (today)."

In the other 4A-6 first-round game, third-seeded Hillsborough used a 22-10 fourth quarter to blow past Gaither (No. 6) 63-42.

Tonight's semifinals pit second-seeded King (11-8) against Hillsborough (13-10) at 7, and Leto (10-17) against Chamberlain (24-3) at 8:30. Saturday's final is at 7:30 p.m.

In Leto's win, the Falcons outscored the Dragons 10-6 in the third overtime behind a 6-of-9 free-throw performance down the stretch. Chris Johnson and Vernon Kilpatrick hit the biggest of those foul shots, each nailing both ends of one-and-ones with 48 and 41 seconds remaining, respectively.

Duwan Lewis was also a hero for the Falcons, tying the game at 74-74 with a short corner jumper with three seconds left in regulation. Overall, seven Falcons finished in double figures, led by senior guard Rob Curry, who had 18 before fouling out with 2:40 to go in regulation. Guard Kevin Pothier added 14 for the winners, and Johnson and Kilpatrick finished with 12 each.

Fourth-seeded Jefferson (7-18), which trailed 62-47 with 1:38 to play in the third quarter, got a game-high 21 from guard Reggie Maddox, and 15 from backcourt mate Kenny Lyons. The Dragons had four players foul out in the third overtime.

In Hillsborough's rout of Gaither, the Terriers got a combined 32 points from their senior frontcourt big-man tandem of Tom Morgan (17) and Lawrence Harrold (15). Hillsborough led only 29-24 at the half, but held the Cowboys (1-22) to just 18 second-half points. CCC trounces Tampa Catholic 88-67 in 2A-11

TAMPA _ Clearwater Central Catholic, behind Mike Pennie's 24 points, had no problem disposing of Tampa Catholic 88-67 Thursday night, in the opening round of the boys Class 2A, District 11 basketball tournament.

The Marauders will now play top-seeded Sarasota-Cardinal Mooney in the semifinals tonight at 8, on Tampa Catholic's home court. That game will be preceded by Palmetto taking on Sarasota Booker at 6.

Against the Crusaders, CCC opened up an early lead by relying heavily on Pennie's drives to the basket. Facing a lethargic Tampa Catholic offense, the Marauders were able to take a 32-21 lead by half-time, with Pennie accounting for half of their points.

The only real highlight for the Crusaders came when Eric Hayes fired in a 60-foot bomb at the half-time buzzer that nearly tore the net off going through. Hayes finished with 18, tops for Tampa Catholic.

In the second half, however CCC got it's offense moving, and opened up a 19-point lead by the end of the third quarter.

Henrik Gese and John Piemonte were the main men for the Marauders, as the two combined for 23 points in the last half, and ended up with 19 each.

"Tonight wasn't that tough, but tomorrow night will be," Pennie said. "But we beat (Cardinal Mooney) once this year, and if we play smart we should be able to do it again."

CCC upped it's record to 15-12 for the year, while the Crusaders finished up at 3-24.

Newberg leads Jesuit past Bartow in 3A-8

Tony Newberg hit four three-pointers in the second half _ including two during a 26-second span near the end of the game _ to lead Jesuit to a 70-66 victory over Bartow in quarterfinal action of the Class 3A, District 8 boys basketball tournament Thursday.

Jesuit was the only Hillsborough County team to advance to tonight's semifinal round. Tampa Bay Vo-Tech and Plant lost Thursday to end their seasons.

The fourth-seeded Tigers (22-8) will play top-seeded Lakeland-Kathleen tonight at 8:30. The Red Devils (21-8) were a 108-83 winner over No.

9 seed Haines City (15-15) on Thursday night.

Tonight's semifinal game at 6 will match tournament host Lake Wales and Auburndale. Lake Wales (22-7), ranked No.

9 in the state but seeded second in the district, defeated No. 7 seed Plant 66-60 Thursday. No. 6 seed Auburndale (19-10) used a 37-point effort by Thomas McSpadden to upset third-seeded Vo-Tech 72-59. Plant's finished 8-17 and Vo-Tech finished 14-7.

Jesuit's opened up a 29-24 halftime lead over the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets (20-10), but Bartow's Ronald Sabb twice tied the game in the third quarter.

In the final period, Newberg hit a two-point shot to break a 60-60 tie with two minutes left, but Bartow's Alvin Pearsall canned a three-pointer to put the Yellow Jackets up 64-62.

Newberg answered with a three-pointer of his own that gave the Tigers a 65-64 lead with 1:07 left. Bartow's Eugene Larry then scored to put his team up by one, but Newberg connected on another three-pointer.

_ Times correspondents Rob McGinty and David Brackman contributed to this report.