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CRYSTAL RIVER — Lecanto looked much better. Crystal River didn’t.
Odd summaries were supplied by each team’s coach, particularly considering it was the Crystal River girls basketball side that came away with a 20-point victory, 55-35, Friday at Crystal River. The Pirates improved to 15-3 overall, 4-1 in 5A-6. Lecanto slipped to 4-14 overall, 0-5 in 5A-6.
The Panthers’ DeeAnna Moehring led all scorers with 22 points, including all 11 of her team’s fourth-quarter points. But that couldn’t offset the Pirate onslaught, which numbered two players in double figures in scoring, Kiersten Croyle with 17 and Katelyn Hannigan with 10, and two more with nine each, Jasmyne Eason and Megan Wells.
“We played really well defensively,” Crystal River coach Jason Rodgers said. “We gave up some shots we probably shouldn’t have, but overall we played well defensively.
“But offensively, we didn’t execute. We won by 20 and we scored 55, but how many should we have scored? Bottom line is, our defense bailed us out.”
That defense was certainly the difference as the Pirates outscored Lecanto 19-11 in the fourth quarter after getting outscored 11-7 in the third. The Panthers narrowed a 15-point halftime deficit to 12 going into the final period. It was the defense that led to a seven-point run early in the fourth and, after two Moehring baskets, Crystal River assured the win by scoring nine consecutive points to go up 50-30.
“We’ve been working hard and gradually we’re trying to improve, aiming for that game at the end of the season,” Lecanto coach Brittany Szunko said, referring to the 5A-6 tournament. “We’re looking to be more of an offensive threat.
“Tonight I think we were resilient, and we were competitive to the end. We didn’t play real well defensively and we had too many fouls. We got into foul trouble real early, and we had two starters foul out.”
On a team that isn’t particularly deep, that was indeed a problem. The Pirates made 15 of 31 free throws to seven of 11 for Lecanto. Crystal River also scored 15 of the final 20 points in the game’s last five minutes.
Those scoring streaks, and a defense that forced 35 Lecanto turnovers, were what separated these two teams. Crystal River never did trail in the game, scoring the first six points in the contest before five Moehring points made it a one-point game. After an Eason free throw, a basket by Lecanto’s Cheyenne Biggs tied it at 7-all; it was 8-7 going into the second period mainly because Crystal River made just two of 19 first-quarter shots.
It was much better for the Pirates in the second. They scored the first 10 points of the quarter to go up by 11 and led 29-14 at the half, thanks to a 10-2 run to end the quarter that included eight Panther turnovers in a 4:40 span.
Eason also had 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks to go with her nine points. Hannigan collected eight boards, three assists and three steals, Croyle contributed five rebounds and four steals, and Wells finished with five rebounds and four steals.
Moehring totaled four boards and four steals for Lecanto, with Taylor Mitchell grabbing nine rebounds and Savaunghna Hopkins getting seven boards.