LAND O’LAKES — It has been 18 contests since Mitchell has allowed more than 50 points in a game.
Until Thursday night, that is.
Land O’Lakes put on a clinic in forcing turnovers and getting out on the break, as the Gators forced the Mustangs into 30 turnovers and behind a 14-point, 14-rebound effort from forward Simone Brown rolled in a Class 4A region quarterfinal.
“I haven’t really been worried about our defense,” Land O’Lakes coach Laurie Tyszko said. “As a team, they all played really well together. We haven’t played many good teams until districts. (Shanel) Sweet is hurt again, with a sprained thumb. She hasn’t wanted to shoot, but I’ve been telling her she has to shoot because against Gulf were going to need her and Simone and the whole team to beat them.”
Land O’Lakes (23-2) went into halftime with a 25-5 lead after holding Mitchell (16-13) to shooting 2-of-22 from the field in the first half.
Mitchell would stay within about 15 points of the Gators for most of the third quarter, but in the last period the Mustangs turned over the ball 12 times and were outscored 22-2.
The unexpected fourth-quarter outburst was led by Brown and senior center Nicole Woodard, who scored only six but contributed in every other facet, including five blocks, eight rebounds and 10 steals.
The Gators’ win sets up a long-awaited and highly anticipated bout versus Gulf, which defeated Citrus 44-31 in its region quarterfinal. Land O’Lakes has not faced the Buccaneers this season.
“The whole season I’ve been waiting for Gulf,” Sweet said.