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Mitchell finishes off Zephyrhills

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2003

TRINITY -- Two teams raced to the halfway point Thursday night, trading baskets and the lead in a non-district Sunshine Athletic Conference battle.

But only one sprinted to the finish. The wheels came off for the other.

Mitchell overcame a two-point halftime deficit to rout Zephyrhills in the second half in a 52-35 win.

Everything fell apart for the Bulldogs (7-8, 4-5) in that second half, as the Mustangs (6-9, 5-5) swept the Bulldogs for the season by pounding them in the paint and on the boards and outhustling and out-executing them.

Zephyrhills was outscored 18-3 in the third quarter and was scoreless during a seven-minute stretch from the third to the fourth.

Amanda Casler's basket at the start of the third tied the game at 22. Then with 3:48 left Casler's basket gave Mitchell a 28-25 lead and sparked a 16-0 run that didn't end until Chemeka Amos made one of two free throws with 6:34 left in the fourth. Casler scored six during the run, and senior Megan Witkowski had four.

"They were executing well on offense, they were rebounding well, they played a really good game and I'm proud of them because they've been working hard," said Mitchell first-year coach Stephanie Baldwin. "(Zephyrhills) has a lot of quickness and they can rebound. We had a nice halftime talk about how that was hurting us. They were getting second and third chances out there, and I told them "You can't let them do it, you need to box them out.'

"We're coming off a bad loss, by 31 to Ridgewood, so it's nice to see them come out and play like that."

Mitchell took a double-digit lead in the last minute of the third and led by as many as 20. Casler led the Mustangs with 16, scoring 10 in the third. Witkowski scored 10, going 5-of-8 at the line, and Sarah Kelly had eight.

Amos led the Bulldogs with nine points. She scored six in the first quarter but was held to one in the second. Freshman Santana Lennon scored seven.

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