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LECANTO — The first boys Hoops Link All-Star Game provided Citrus and Hernando County seniors one more opportunity to put on a show. They followed through with an entertaining exhibition that — led by Lecanto guard Mikey Makros’ eight 3-pointers and game-high 36 points — produced 192 points between the two squads in 40 minutes of regulation.
But despite Makros’ outburst, Hernando boasted a double-digit advantage for most of the game in winning the State Farm-sponsored event, 110-82, in the Panthers’ gym on Thursday.
“We just wanted kids to come out and have a good time and that’s what happened,” Lecanto boys head coach Frank Vilardi said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Hernando. They’ve got a good group of seniors and they really moved it around well and made a lot of shots. It was a lot of fun having the seniors compete one last time.”
Vilardi helped initiate and organize the event and served as Citrus County head coach, with Citrus High School head coach Tom Densmore as an assistant.
Hernando grabbed a 6-3 edge on a 3 by Nature Coast guard Victor Davila (19 points, eight boards) two minutes into the game and never relinquished the lead.
Hernando High School guard Giovanni Perez (10 rebounds) paced his squad with 28 points and fellow Leopard guard Jeffrey Velasquez added 20 points. Nature Coast forward Wyatt Hessler chipped in 16 points for the Hernando group, while Sharks forward Yamil Marrero had game-highs of 12 boards and four steals.
Hurricanes forward Abe Juste scored 15 points and grabbed nine boards for the Citrus team and Panthers center Geoffrey Ruiz also had nine rebounds to go along with his 11 points.
Hernando extended its lead in the first half in spite of missing 17 more field goals than Citrus during the span. Makros (six rebounds) narrowed the margin back to three points with four consecutive 3-pointers during a 1:25 stretch near the end of the opening half.
The Panther senior launched two of those 3’s a couple steps in front of the half-court line and another against double-
coverage in the right corner near the baseline. A minute later, he added his seventh 3 of the half after brushing off a defender with a pump fake.
“We only had a couple practices, but I guess I’m still hot from the Weeki Wachee game,” Makros jokingly said in reference to his record-breaking dozen 3-pointers against the Hornets in late January. “It was definitely a good experience to play with everyone again. Hernando was a really good team.”
In its waning minutes, the game turned into a display of alley-oop attempts and fierce shot-blocks, with Central center Troy Stewart punctuating the night on a dunk with 25 seconds remaining.
Central guard Joey Stokes connected on eight 3-pointers in 10 attempts in the
3-point contest to prevail in the halftime event.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in Hernando County so it was fun to put these kids together after they’ve battled one another for years,” said Central head boys basketball coach Matt Zandecki, who was helming the Hernando team Thursday. “It was a good time and a lot of fun to coach.”