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Top seeds play on in 3A-9

The top three seeds in the Class 3A, District 9 girls basketball tournament advanced Thursday to the semifinals, but only No.

2 seed and host Zephyrhills made its first-round work look easy.

The Bulldogs dismissed Ridgewood 60-24, No.

1 Citrus topped Central 48-38, and No.

3 Hernando outlasted Pasco 47-38. No.

5 seed Land O'Lakes defeated No.

4 Gulf 41-39.

"These opening rounds are so hard," Zephyrhills coach Ernie Pittman said of Thursday's games, which pitted the strongest teams against the weakest. "You say, "I should win,' but that's what you hate. The other team knows they have to play their very best, and if you don't think you do, you're going to get surprised."

Zephyrhills (23-5) took a 15-3 lead after one quarter and never was tested by the seventh-seeded Rams (8-13).

Nine Bulldogs scored points, and three reached double figures _ Tawnya Booker 19, Jill Sanders 14 and Penny Hierlihy 10.

Citrus and Hernando played much closer contests.

"We were sloppy, but we played well enough to win," Citrus coach Bruce Nelson said. "Hopefully we'll be a little more intense (tonight)."

In today's semifinals, Citrus plays Land O'Lakes at 6 p.m. and host Zephyrhills plays Hernando at 8 p.m.

Citrus (19-3) built a 10-point lead over No.

8 Central (9-14) early in the second quarter, then rested its starters for the rest of the half. The Hurricanes still had a 10-point lead at halftime, 26-16.

Tara Vlasewich scored seven of Central's 11 points in the third quarter, and the Bears drew within five points. Citrus' lead was back to double figures, 38-27, less than a minute into the final quarter.

Citrus forward Joy Porter led all scorers in the game, netting 18 points. Central's Vlasewich finished with 14.

Hernando's Leopards (20-6) took an 8-3 lead against Pasco, but the Pirates' quickness caused turnovers by Hernando and second-shot opportunities for themselves. Pasco fought back to take a 20-18 halftime lead, outscoring Hernando 15-6 in the second quarter.

The Pirates (11-13) never trailed until Hernando's Kolleen Colburn scored with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter to give the Leopards a 35-34 lead.

With Pasco clinging to a 36-35 lead with less than three minutes to play, the tournament's official scorer miscounted Pasco's seventh team foul. Hernando inbounded the ball before the scorer notified officials of the one-and-one situation.

Hernando's Leslie Pingley converted the bonus to give the Leopards a one-point lead, and Hernando retained possession as play continued from the point of interruption.

Pingley quickly scored again, and the Leopards hit six of six free-throw attempts in the final 2:30 to stretch the final margin to nine points.

Pasco guard Myra Lopey led all scorers with 21 points, including three three-pointers.

In the day's closest game, Land O'Lakes (17-9) led Gulf 36-31 going into the final period, but the Buccaneers (17-5) scored the quarter's first six points to take a 37-36 lead with 3:42 to play. The one-point lead changed hands twice before Land O'Lakes went ahead for good on a jumper by Stephanie Barry with 1:24 to go.

The Gators' Kristy Jones added one of two free throws with 12 seconds left, and Gulf's last-second attempt to tie the game missed.