Sixth-seeded Sharks ride outside-inside punch of Crima, Lee past third-seeded Leopards, 59-47

Hernando High Coach Dominique Jacobs goes over a play during the game versus Nature Coast in the 6A-7 Tournament Tuesday night at Nature Coast Technical High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Nature Coast’s Jiena Carrera shoots while guarded by Hernando High’s Nakayla Roberts Tuesday night in Brooksville. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


Citrus High survives

1-of-16 fourth quarter

to edge Lecanto, 43-40


BROOKSVILLE – Riding the outside-inside contributions of Danielle Crima and Heaven Lee, host and sixth-seeded Nature Coast Technical upended third-seeded Hernando, 59-47.

In the first of two Class 6A, District 7 quarterfinals on Tuesday, try as they might to give a game away – fourth-seeded Citrus misfired on 15-of-16 fourth quarter field goal attempts, yet still managed to edge fifth-seeded Lecanto, 43-40.

In Wednesday’s 6A-7 semifinals, top-seeded Weeki Wachee (21-4) tackles Citrus (8-13) at 6 p.m. while second-seeded Crystal River faces NCT at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday night’s winners will clash at 7 p.m. Friday for the championship.

Crima power

Crima, a senior guard, who pumped in a season high 23 points seven weeks ago in the 47-46 loss to Springstead was better this time.

The 5-foot-5 perimeter shooter, who walked in with 58 treys, poured in a career-best 24 points, highlighted by canning six three-pointers.

From inside the paint, 5-foot-9 freshman center Heaven Lee just missed duplicating her career best.

Lee, who torched Gulf for 18 points on Jan. 3, tallied six field goals – all layups – and canned 4-of-10 free throws for 16 points to compliment Crima.

Splendid all-around athlete, HHS senior Nakayla Roberts, led all scorers with 27 points.

Nakayla Roberts
Hayden Kimbrough

HHS sophomore shooting guard Hayden Kimbrough also finished in double figures with 12 markers.

All told, NCT converted 19-of-53 FG attempts (36 percent) while Hernando sank 19-of-67 (28 percent).

When Roberts sank the first two foul shot attempts with 1:20 left in the first quarter, HHS equaled its biggest lead, 8-6.

Lee’s first layup with a second left in the period tied the score, 8-all.

With 3:53 left before the intermission, HHS’ Maddie Tyler converted a layup for the Leopards’ final lead, 14-13.

From there, NCT went on a 6-0 run and never again trailed.

Post-game chatter

Heaven Lee

“I had a good game. I rebounded well, went up aggressive and hit a lot of layups,” recalled the 15-year-old Lee.

On the win’s significance, “This is my first year with the varsity. This was a big win,” added Lee. “To me, this was the best game we’ve played all season.“

On what has to happen Wednesday for the Sharks to play for the district championship, “We have to hit a good percentage of our shots. We have to break the press and play with a lot of intensity.”

Danielle Crima. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

For her part, Crima was still glowing after her career-best effort.

“We had great energy tonight,” pointed out the 18-year-old Crima. “I thought we came in ready to play hard.”

On what the difference was between Tuesday and other two losses to Hernando, “I think it was because this was districts,” replied Crima.

“It was a much bigger game.”

On squaring off against CRHS, “We need to stay focused and play our hardest,” chimed Crima. ’”Everyone has to give 100 percent.”

Emily Gore

Ninth-year NCT skipper Emily Gore savored the team’s initial win against archrival Hernando.

“I thought Crima gave us a huge third quarter (11 points). It gave us a little bit of momentum which carried us the rest of the way. Roberts got hot late and you could feel them coming back.”

The biggest difference, “I thought we rebounded better this time,” noted Gore. “Hernando probably still got more rebounds, but we did a much better job.”

In facing the same team that eliminated NCT last year on Wednesday, “Crystal River is a great team. We have to find a way to handle their press,” Gore said without wavering. “They’re very deep and come out you in waves.”

’Canes hold on (barely)

Despite entering the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead Tuesday night over fifth-seeded Lecanto, fourth-seeded Citrus barely avoided a gag reflex.

Inverness-Citrus Golden Hurricanes

The Hurricanes (8-13) misfired on its first 10 field goal attempts of the final stanza and converted just one of its last 16 attempts.

With 1:55 remaining, clinging to 39-38 cushion, CHS freshman Jasmin Henry converted a clutch layup to help build a 41-38 lead.

On a night when the ’Canes could have created space – it clanked 21-of-29 free throw attempts.

Fortunately, senior Zarrie’ Washington connected on the first of two from the charity stripe with five seconds remaining to help seal an uneasy 43-40 6A-7 quarterfinal win.

Sophomore and foreign exchange student Andrea Palazon paced the Hurricanes with 15 points, though she did not score in the fourth quarter.

Washington added 10 markers while senior Aarriol Stevens led LHS (13-11 overall) with 13 points.

The Panthers misfired on 44-of-61 field attempts and committed 27 turnovers.

The Canes survived despite committing 22 turnovers and misfiring on 44-of-60 FG tries.

Palazon admitted it was gut check time late in the fourth.

“They (Lecanto) started scoring and getting closer,” admitted Palazon, with a thick Spanish accent. “The key was we had to pass the ball better.

“… This was a big win because it was districts and Lecanto is one of our rivals.”

“We were really tired in the fourth quarter,” added Washington, 17. “We pushed hard, but they (LHS) pushed harder. Our free throw shooting was horrible. It didn’t have to be that close.”

On what needs to occur to reach the finals, “We have to have good passes,” declared Washington. “And our defense has to be on point.”

Coaches’ corner

CHS’ third-third skipper July Bryant thought her team survived.

“We had the lead going in, but we lost the fourth quarter,” she said. “Had we hit half of the free throws we missed, it wouldn’t have been that close. We’ve been improving every year since I took over; I’m very proud of these girls.”

To reach Friday’s finals, “We need to hit some put backs. We didn‘t make many tonight and our defense has to show up tomorrow,” noted Bryant.

LHS’ 22nd-year sipper Ron Allan shouldered the blame himself.

“I didn‘t do a good enough job of coaching when we got it close,” said Allan. “This one is on me. I thought we shot terribly for most of the game. Had we hit a couple more, it could’ve been different.” 

Class 6A, District 7 Girls Basketball Recap



@ Crystal River

Crystal River 68, Central 25



@ Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical

Citrus 43, Lecanto 40

Nature Coast Technical 59, Hernando 47



@ Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical

Citrus vs. Weeki Wachee, 6 p.m.

Crystal River vs. Nature Coast Technical, 7:30 p.m.

NCT 59,

Hernando 47























NATURE COAST TECHNICAL (59) – Carrera 1 4-6 6, Crima 8 2-2 24, Ortiz 2 2-4 6, Diaz 1 1-4 4, Lee 6 4-10 16, Delaine 1 0-0 3. Totals: 119 13-26 59.

HERNANDO (47) – Topp 0, Roberts 11 4-6 27, Kimbrough 4 1-2 12, Murwin 0, Dowdell 1 0-1 2, McFarland 0, Tyler 3 0-0 6, Jones 0 0-1 0. Totals: 28 10-14 67.

3-point goals – NCT (6): Crima (6). HER (4): Kimbrough (3), Roberts.

Total fouls: NCT: 10.HER: 22.

Fouled out – HER: Murwin.

Technical fouls – none.

Records: Nature Coast Technical (1-0 tourney, 7-16 overall), Hernando (0-1 tourney, 11-11 overall)..

Citrus 43,

Lecanto 40























LECANTO (40) – Stevens 6 1-5 13, D. Spaulding 4 0-0 8, Recta 1 0-0 3, Carbone 2 1-1 5, Keeran 2 2-2 7, Homs 2 0-0 4, Gajcowski 0. Totals: 17 4-8 40.

CITRUS (43) – Palazon 7 0-3 15, Reeves 2 0-2 6, Washington 2 6-16 10, Reneau 3 0-0 6, Harris 0 1-2 1, Henry 2 1-4 5, Vott 0 0-2 0. Totals: 16 8-29 43.

3-point goals – LEC (2): Keeran, Recta. CIT (3): Reeves (2), Palazon.

Total fouls: LEC: 19. CIT: 11.

Fouled out – none.

Technical fouls – none.

Records: Lecanto (0-1 tourney, 13-11 overall), Citrus (1-0 tourney, 8-13 overall).



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