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Preps

Mitchell tops district rival River Ridge

ANDY VILLAMARZO Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 03:13 AM

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NEW PORT RICHEY -

Class 6A-District 10 has become a very competitive district, to say the least.

With River Ridge, which was recently ranked No. 9 in Class 6A by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches, seemingly the favorite in the district along with Tarpon Springs, many weren't sure if Mitchell was ready to concede to its neighboring rivals just yet.

Tuesday night, the Mustangs flexed their rebounding muscles in the second half and outrebounded the Royal Knights 23-13 en route to a 39-34 victory against River Ridge.

"Hopefully come February we can continue to build off of this," Mitchell coach Jacob Tavo said. "Its a tough district. Tarpon springs has a lot of skill amongst its squad, and Land O' Lakes defeated River Ridge the other day. Hopefully, this just builds confidence."

In the first half, it looked like both teams were feeling it offensively, and River Ridge's Leah Ford (14 points, five rebounds) scored seven points in the opening period. The Royal Knights (4-3) carried a 19-14 lead into halftime and were shooting 7 of 21 from the field with only four turnovers.

The second half, though, played out differently for River Ridge, with the team turning over the ball seven times, and Ford was a non-factor for the most part down the stretch. Mitchell's Ashley Lewis was a force in the final period, as the junior forward scored six of her team-high 12 points and had a double-double by adding 11 rebounds.

Five lead changes occurred in the fourth quarter, but Lewis' two go-ahead free throws with 1:08 left helped give Mitchell (4-2) a key district victory.

"Our coach told us to always have heart and soul down the stretch," Lewis said. "We just really wanted this win and we knew it was a big district matchup heading in."

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