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Ridgewood, Citrus gain semifinals of 3A-7 tourney

There were no surprises in the Class 3A, District 7 high school boys basketball tournament Thursday at the Marion Bowman Activities Center. Ridgewood _ the tournament's No. 1 seed _ handled Hernando 59-36 in the evening's final game. Earlier, second-seeded Citrus outlasted Hudson 76-62; Gulf defeated short-handed Zephyrhills 72-48; and Pasco eliminated Springstead 54-40.

Citrus (22-6) will play Gulf (12-16) tonight at 6. Ridgewood (22-4) plays Pasco (15-9) at 8.

The Rams were bothered by a sluggish start, due mostly to the Leopards' patience on offense. But despite stall tactics by Hernando, Ridgewood forged an early 10-5 lead.

By halftime, Ridgewood had built a 15-point lead _ 25-10 _ and never looked back. The Rams were led by Tony Bego (19 points) and Jay Scott (11 points).

Hernando, which finished the season 8-20, got 13 points from Chris Taylor.

Pasco, thanks to aggressive defense, provided spectators with plenty of excitement in the tournament's first game.

From the opening tipoff, the Pirates used full-court pressure against the Eagles. Pasco held Springstead's Ryan O'Connell to 12 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field. The Pirates also forced Springstead into commiting numerous turnovers.

After a close first half, the Pirates outscored the Eagles 16-4 in the third quarter on the strength of their transition game. By the fourth quarter, the Pirates led by as many as 20 points.

"The third quarter this year, we've had our ups and downs," said Pasco coach Willie Broner. "But they kept up the intensity. We were able to work the ball inside to (center) Bernard (Marshall)."

Springstead finished 15-12.

Gulf _ the lowest seeded team _ scored the first 18 points of the second game to thwart Zephyrhills early.

Due to dismissals of five players (three starters) last week, the Bulldogs (18-11) had only seven players in uniform.

In the third game, Citrus used its depth to outlast a scrappy Hudson team.

Although the Hurricanes led throughout, the Cobras did threaten. In the third quarter, Chris Edmondson's jumper closed Hudson to within 41-40. Citrus, however, responded with a decisive 9-2 run to finish off the Cobras.

Hudson, which finished 6-16, was led by Carlos Ortiz's 19 points.