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Top two keep an eye on the rest

The Knights and Mustangs are the favorites, but the matches still must be won.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

If you're River Ridge or Mitchell, the perspective from atop the standings is simple: two teams make the playoffs, and the Knights and Mustangs went 19-1 against the rest of the district.

If you're the rest of the district, there's reason for optimism this week in Tarpon Springs.

Three other teams have at least 13 wins and are fully capable of the single upset it would take to sneak into the district final.

"Not to be cliche, but we're getting ready to play Gulf on Monday night, and we're not going to take anyone lightly," said Mustangs coach Joe Dixon, whose team, seeded second, is in good position for its first region playoff berth.

"We're not going to look past (potential semifinal foes) Land O'Lakes or Tarpon Springs, but we know that if we play well, we should be able to hold our seed."

River Ridge (20-2) wants to add an exclamation point to its regular-season dominance, while Mitchell hopes to get a third shot at knocking off the Knights. And where better than a district final?

As competitive a rematch as that would be, both teams face playoff-caliber tests in the semifinals.

The Knights, ranked eighth in Class 4A, get a bye Monday and return Wednesday to face the winner of Ridgewood and Hudson.

Hudson played spoiler last year, losing twice to River Ridge during the season only to upset the top-seeded Knights in the district championship.

"You never know. What is it, the law of odds?" McQuade said. "That's what happened last year. We're going to go into district and play good."

Mitchell, too, should have a challenging semifinal match. Land O'Lakes was the first county team in two years to win a single game from River Ridge, and Tarpon Springs actually upset the Knights in a 2 1/2-hour September marathon. Mustangs junior Katelen Dixon recorded her 300th kill of the season this week in a win against Pasco.

If the seeding prevails, the Mustangs and Knights will meet on Halloween at 7 p.m., but that wouldn't necessarily end the rivalry. The region's only other ranked team is No. 3 Gainesville, meaning both teams could advance until they face each other a fourth time.

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