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Hustle carries Durant to win

CLASS 5A: The smaller Cougars beat King on the boards in a 50-31 win.

By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2003

TAMPA -- The King Lions could block, steal, run and, for the most part, pass the ball just fine. They didn't come close, though, to matching Durant's adeptness in the scoring and rebounding departments.

The Cougars beat the Lions 50-31 in a quarterfinal that boiled down to who was better at the basics. In King's gym, the Cougars came out with a fiery intensity that didn't cool down even after a 27-9 first half.

King (20-5) used a little more muscle in the lane in the third quarter and outscored the Cougars 12-8 in an attempt to catch up. But Durant took advantage of King's eight fouls in the second half and finished 15-of-18 from the line.

The Cougars (25-3), who feature no post players and were considerably outsized by the Lions, had a simple explanation for their win.

"We wanted it more," Durant point guard Precious Lippett said. "We rebounded well and we outhustled them."

Keeping the Lions from crashing the boards and capitalizing on putbacks was one of Durant's toughest jobs. Durant coach Jeff Shotwell said it was the focus of the defense all night.

Lippett credited the Lions for aggressive blocking, which may have kept the Cougars from running away with the score. King's Erin Clark (14 points) had eight blocks.

"She definitely did her job," Lippett said.

It wasn't enough to snuff the Cougars' comfortable lead, and Durant replaced its starters before the game ended.

"What really hurt us is that we didn't get any offense going," King coach Eric Brooks said. "We didn't get any scoring until it was desperation scoring."

The Cougars had three players in double digits, Shay Mackey with 16 points, Danielle Herndon with 15 and Courtney Chasten with 11. Herndon had nine rebounds and Mackey eight.

Brooks said King's starting lineup of mostly seniors had a good run, winning its district and ending with a strong record.

Durant hosts New Smyrna Beach (19-8), which beat Winter Springs 44-37, in the region semifinal Feb.25 at 7:30 p.m.

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