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Mustangs top Knights for first playoff berth

Published February 19, 2004

TRINITY - Sophomore D.J. Crosby knows what is missing for Mitchell.

"We do not have a banner in our gym that's basketball," Crosby said. "It's golf or swimming or something else. All the sports that don't even use the gym."

Thanks largely to its point guard, Mitchell (15-10) is one victory from completing that mission.

Crosby's 19 points paced four Mustangs in double figures to pull away from River Ridge 73-62 on Wednesday.

The victory earned the school's first playoff berth and set up a third meeting between Mitchell and Land O' Lakes with the district title at stake Saturday on the Mustangs' home court. The Gators swept both meetings this season to claim the top seed in the three-team district.

"Tears almost come to my eyes when you talk about the Land O'Lakes games," Crosby said. "In Coach's office, we have two trophies - one second place, one first place. We don't want the second place."

The Knights (3-21) didn't let the Mustangs walk into the finals, as Shawn Murphy's fourth 3-pointer of the first half and a layup by Phil Petrini lifted River Ridge 27-22 with 3:42 left in the second quarter. Then Mitchell stunned the Knights with a 12-0 run during the next 2:24, keyed by two Ron Lafleur 3s.

Mitchell finished the half ahead by seven and followed it by scoring the first five points of the third quarter to lead 43-31 before Alex Pasquine's spinning layup. Pasquine finished with 13 points and 21 rebounds.

River Ridge cut the margin to 45-40 with three minutes to go in the third, but Crosby gave his team its biggest lead at 57-43 with a 3 early in the fourth. After 14 points in the first half, Murphy finally scored again with his fifth 3 of the game at the 2:25 mark of the fourth. That brought the game within 10. Murphy tied Crosby with a game-high 19 points.

"The first half, I didn't guard him," Crosby said. "We went into the locker room and Coach told me we don't want any more shooting attempts from him. So I had to talk to him and get in his head a little bit."

Crosby got under the Knights' skin, hitting 5 of 5 free throws in the final minutes.

[Last modified February 19, 2004, 02:00:25]


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