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Seniors rescue Leopards

Carmen Byrd and Stephanie Freeman combine for eight points late in the title game, helping hold off North Marion.

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- Junior Bernice Mosby always is Hernando's primary scoring threat, but late in Saturday's game against North Marion, her misses almost were as deadly as her swishes.

Seniors Carmen Byrd and Stephanie Freeman combined for eight points in the final two minutes -- all following rebounds of shots missed by Mosby -- to lead the Leopards to their third consecutive district title in a 55-49 victory.

"They just took it to them -- they rebounded like nothing else," said coach Rodney Byrd, whose team will play host to District 8 runner-up Pasco on Thursday in a regional quarterfinal. "It's exceptional -- they busted their butts to get those rebounds."

Father and daughter went face-to-face during an emotional time out in the third quarter after North Marion went on a 12-1 run to take a 35-33 lead. Carmen Byrd picked up her fourth foul as the third quarter ended with the Leopards up 37-36. She not only played the entire final quarter with four fouls, but she had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the fourth.

"These are our two seniors, it's their last year, so they know they have to go all out," said Mosby, who finished with a game-high 21 points, along with 14 rebounds and 6 blocks.

Freeman, within 1 percent of finishing as Hernando's most accurate free-throw shooter, went 7-for-8 at the line and had 13 points, including four off offensive rebounds down the stretch.

"We just could not get a defensive rebound," Colts coach Pam Plumlee said. "At key opportune times, we could not get the rebounds. Tonight, the better team won. They outworked us, outhustled us."

North Marion (14-11) got 11 points from Erika Smith, but the Colts went 6-for-15 on free throws, including a 1-for-5 effort in the fourth quarter. They will travel to Hudson to face the District 8 champion on Thursday.

Mosby, Byrd and Freeman combined to score Hernando's final 46 points after guard Ellen Widboom gave the Leopards their first nine on three straight three-pointers.

Hernando, 21-3 and ranked seventh in the Times Tampa Bay Top 10, beat Pasco twice this year, including a 51-30 decision in Dade City on Monday.

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