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Local Sports

  • Lightning ice Panthers

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov had two goals and the Tampa Bay Lightning extended a season-high winning streak to five games by beating the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers 3-1 on Sunday night.

    Andrej Sustr had the other Tampa Bay goal and Ben Bishop made 26 saves to help the Lightning move within five points of Florida. Bishop is 7-1-1 against the Panthers.

  • 5th straight

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots’ late-season slump didn’t mean much when the playoffs came to New England. Kansas City’s 11-game winning streak mattered even less.

    With Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman coming back from injuries to help Tom Brady return to his Super Bowl MVP form, the Patriots earned a spot in the AFC title game for the fifth year in a row, beating the Chiefs 27-20 on Saturday.

  • Local sports briefs

    Panthers pound pair of overmatched opponents

    The Lecanto girls basketball team hammered Weeki Wachee on the road Friday night to close out district play, 78-13.

    Jaziana Mathis scored 31, DeeAnna Moehring added 28 and Selah Young added six in the victory.

    The Panthers traveled to The Villages on Thursday and posted a 49-30 victory.

    Moehring scored 24 and Mathis added 17.

  • Koetter new Bucs coach

    TAMPA — Dirk Koetter is confident the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the verge of becoming relevant again.

    The long-time NFL assistant became the team’s fifth coach in eight years Friday, assuming the task of transforming a team that has finished last in its division five consecutive seasons into playoff contenders.

    Koetter, an offensive coordinator for three clubs over the past nine years, succeeds Lovie Smith, who was fired last week after going 8-24 in two seasons.

  • ’Canes are champs

    C.J. Risak

    Correspondent

    CRYSTAL RIVER — A couple of key factors favored Citrus when the Hurricanes tangled with Crystal River in a decisive 5A-7 girls basketball contest Friday.

    First, Citrus had the experience of playing in big games — six of its eight available players are seniors, while the Pirates don’t have any. And the Hurricanes have several capable long-range shooters.

  • Pirates pick up district road win at Citrus

    INVERNESS — After holding a double- digit lead for most of 2 1/2 quarters, the Crystal River boys’ hoops squad had to endure a late Citrus rally in Friday’s county and district rivalry showdown.

    But it was too little, too late for the Hurricanes, as the Pirates held on in the final moments for a 64-60 victory in Inverness, putting them in contention to secure either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in District 5A-7.

  • An emotional victory

    Days after dealing with the loss of a close family member, Crystal River wrestler Chase Bunts honored his grandfather’s memory the best way he knew how — by claiming his first-ever tournament championship.

    The junior Pirate 113-pounder went 3-0 with a trio of first-period falls to win the Corey Hill Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Springstead High School in Spring Hill.

  • Trust among teammates

    Being an effective leader among teammates doesn’t require being a leading scorer.

    That’s what Lecanto senior guard Matteo Loiero has learned this season as he’s strengthened his defensive play and learned to trust those around him.

  • Graham delivers

    CRYSTAL RIVER — The fans who turned out for Wednesday night’s county wrestling meet between Crystal River and Citrus were treated to a thrilling dual that came down to the very last match.

    After falling into an early 21-6 hole, the visiting Hurricanes rallied to tie the meet 36-36 heading into the heavyweight match.

    Pirate big man Jason Graham sent the hometown fans away happy with a first-period pin over Steven Mackey.

  • County sends a strong 28 on to regionals

    BUSHNELL — “It was a good night for Citrus County.”

    Dramatic too. Those words spoken by Lecanto girls weightlifitng coach Bob LeCours came after his team took second place in the nine-team Class 1A-District 10 meet at South Sumter High School on Wednesday evening.