LECANTO — This season has seen Lecanto make its return to the top of the Citrus County boys basketball ranks, and that trend continued on Friday.
The Panthers, who last month broke an 11-game losing skid against Crystal River dating back to 2015, celebrated their Senior Night by cruising past the Pirates once again, 85-34.
“We played really well. When we play that unselfish we’re really, really hard to beat,” Lecanto head coach Frank Vilardi said. “The ball was really moving. Ian (Rose) got hot and we found him. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that can score and tonight it was Ian’s night. I’m really, really happy for him as a senior.
“I thought that all four of the seniors played really, really well. I was really proud of them. We’re trying to get ready for the end of the season and this was a big game. We weren’t taking them lightly. They played Central really tough and our guys were really fired up to come out and play tonight.”
Indeed Rose, a senior guard, had the touch from beyond the 3-point line and really everywhere else on the court. He finished with 30 points, knocking down seven shots from beyond the arc, and also had four steals.
“I was just feeling that it was a pretty special night, Senior Night. My teammates were helping me out a lot, giving me open shots and that means a lot. That’s what it’s all about,” Rose said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to get any of those shots tonight.
“We played very well. We were hitting shots, moving around. We weren’t being selfish and that’s a big thing. The past two games have been a little rough, but I think we’re back on our roll. I think that if we play like we did tonight, unselfishly, I think that we’ll have a great season.”
The Panthers (14-2) were on fire out of the gate, drilling three 3-pointers while building a 27-5 edge by the end of the first quarter. They hit on 12 3-pointers in the game, including three by senior Preston Koller. One of them came with 6:25 left in the third quarter, making it 57-22 to initiate the running clock.
“The ball movement has not been that sharp lately. But we’re trying to figure things out. We’ve got kids coming in and out with all the stuff going on,” Vilardi said. “It’s hard to get that kind of rhythm when you’re missing guys constantly for the health problems we’ve been having and for other reasons.
“So it’s hard to get that rhythm, but tonight we had it and it’s good. It looked really good. This was our third game of the week, so I think that helped develop a little bit of a rhythm.”
Junior Nick Post added 23 points and six rebounds. Austin Recta, another senior, led the team with eight rebounds and four steals, and senior D.J. Smith chipped in seven points.
“We just need to continue to work hard, practice and get better every day. That’s our goal. It doesn’t change,” Vilardi said. “The winning is good tonight. We’ll enjoy it tonight. Tomorrow we’ve got to get back to work against River Ridge. We’ve got to get back to work Monday to get better.
“We want to try to peak for the districts and our district is extremely tough. We’re heading in the right direction.”
Cole Komara paced Crystal River (2-10) with nine points, making three 3-pointers. Hudson Copeland had seven points and nine rebounds.