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"Go strong or go home."

_ BRIAN TOMLIN

Pasco senior forward encouraging his teammates during boys basketball practice.

WRESTLING

Gator tears ACL, out

for rest of season

Land O'Lakes' Ron Crotty is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to coach Ed Goodpaster.

"It's a big blow," Goodpaster said. "He's very good.

"I would say he probably could have been a state qualifier this year."

Crotty, the Gators' 135-pounder and one of their top lightweights, injured his knee during the first round of Saturday's Land O'Lakes Invitational.

The junior is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday to repair the ligament, and Goodpaster said his recuperation could take six to nine months.

Crotty injured his neck during a Dec. 4 tournament at Land O'Lakes when he landed on his head awkwardly. He momentarily lost consciousness and had to be flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

Crotty's lengthy comeback was almost completed _ he had a 24-6 record this season _ until Saturday.

"We're going to miss him," Goodpaster said.

Short-handed Rams

take third at Gateway

Ridgewood took third at Saturday's Gateway Invitational in Kissimmee, just days after the team lost six varsity starters.

"We didn't do too bad," coach Vincent Lowe said.

"We finished behind Gateway and St. Thomas Aquinas, which are both ranked teams."

The Rams also won three weight classes. Joe Mendoza went 2-0 to claim the 119-pound division.

Anthony DeSantis was the surprise of the team, winning at 140 with a 3-0 record, and 152-pounder Russell Giresi went 2-0 to win his weight class.

"Anthony winning was a real nice surprise for us coming into the end of the year," Lowe said. "Anthony is one of our hardest working kids, and it's really starting to pay off."

Lowe dismissed five varsity starters last week for missing too many practices, and another varsity starter quit the team. So Ridgewood entered the Gateway Invitational with just 11 wrestlers and had to forfeit three weight classes.

Yet all 11 Rams placed at the tourney.

"It was a little past our expectations," Lowe said. "Without three weight classes, to come out of there with third made us very happy."

Richard Shields (112) and Jaime Legrand (130) took second. Sean Byrne (135), Ricardo Diez (189) and Rudy Arce (275) took fourth. Andy Butler(125) and Bobby Shields (160) took fifth, and Andy Poligo (171) finished sixth.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Wildcats' last chance for win comes today

Wesley Chapel coach Richard Pokorny surely knows by now how difficult starting a high school program from scratch can be.

In his and the program's first season, the Wildcats are 0-22 with one regular-season game remaining.

Wesley Chapel plays at 7 p.m. today at Zephyrhills.

The Bulldogs (14-8) beat the Wildcats 61-15 on Jan. 11 and have won 10 of their past 12 games.

Wesley Chapel will be the fifth seed in the Class 3A, District 6 tournament and plays No. 4 seed Dunnellon (2-6) at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9.

_ Compiled by Kevin Kelly and Jamal Thalji.

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