Springstead 59, Pasco 53
Unbeaten Springstead faced its sternest challenge Tuesday and came out on top. The Eagles staved off a late run by Class 4A, District 8 rival Pasco in their closest game so far, a 59-53 win.
"That was definitely the closest game we've played this year," Springstead coach Craig Swartout said. "They play tenacious defense. They really get up and down the floor well."
Springstead (5-0, 4-0) snapped a halftime tie at 26 with a 7-2 run to start the third quarter, but Pasco (3-3, 2-2) rallied to tie it at 36 on Demetrious Larry's reverse layup and two free throws.
Then came the game's decisive basket, a thunderous dunk by Ethan Selph on a rebound. Selph passed to Tim Hennigan for an easy layup on the Eagles' next possession.
Hennigan led Springstead with 17 points and Selph had 10 as the towering forwards controlled the boards most of the second half.
"Our bread and butter is defense and rebounding," Swartout said. "When we get second chances we're a tough team."
Larry, whose 3-pointer tied it at 26 four seconds before halftime, had a game-high 20 points. Teammate Jeremy Davidson added 12, his last basket a lay-up off a Charles Williams steal to pull the Pirates within 53-51 in the game's final minute.
Nehemiah Mason hit three of the Eagles' four free throws down the stretch to clinch it.
Citrus 57, Crystal River 55
'Canes squeak by
CRYSTAL RIVER - A shot at the buzzer. An ejection. A comeback. Rival fans trying to outdo each other.
Citrus's 57-55 thrilling win over Crystal River had it all Tuesday night.
Trailing 55-54, Trent Shelton drove to the basket. A reach-in call on Crystal River's Jay Winborne gave him two free throws. He made the first, tying the score. Shelton missed the second, starting a mad scramble for the rebound. When it was all over, Craig Augustine had tipped the ball in to give Citrus the edge.
It didn't look like it would be that close in the first quarter. Crystal River (4-1, 2-1) opened a 20-4 lead, not allowing a basket for the first four minutes of the game. Citrus' Duwant Ross picked up two technical fouls for flagrant elbows and was ejected.
Citrus (2-3, 1-2) climbed back in the second quarter, closing the gap to four by halftime.
"I didn't have to tell them much," Citrus coach Tom Densmore said. "I knew we'd fight back."
Augustine had 12 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks. He almost did not have the chance to be the hero. With 52.2 seconds remaining, Augustine was forced to come off the court as an elbow to the nose left him bleeding. He returned shortly.
"I just followed up Andy Rouse's miss," Augustine said. "We really needed that win (after losing three games last week)."
Crystal River coach Justin Orosz took responsibility for his team's loss.
"We got good looks, they just weren't falling," Orosz said. "We have to pick it up on the defensive end when that happens.
"We lost composure. This one's on me."
Phil Kegler, Times correspondent