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NEW PORT RICHEY — Mitchell rallied from nine points down early in the fourth quarter for a pulse-pounding 67-64 win over Ridgewood on Friday night.
“That was good to get the ol’ adrenaline back going after a week off,” Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles said.
Despite being on the wrong end of a 14-0 run, Ridgewood had a chance to win. Down 65-64 with 20 seconds left, Adam Ibrahim’s driving attempt rimmed out. Mitchell’s Brian Powers then hit two free throws.
A double foul with 13 seconds remaining saw Ibrahm, who scored 19 on the night, foul out. Ridgewood turned to Brandon Green, who had 18 points, and he was able to pump fake a defender for an open look at the top of the key. But his 3 attempt fell well short at the buzzer.
Lawrence Watt scored 17 points, Zach Rapaport added 16 and Bernie Conley 13 for the Mustangs (10-4).
After falling behind 7-0 early, Ridgewood (9-6) caught fire and led 20-11 by the end of the first quarter. But after the Rams extended the lead to 14, turnovers began creeping into their game.
“I can’t fault our effort, but we just had too many turnovers and that’s been our issue lately,” Rams coach Derek Delgardo said. “Just throwing the ball right to them.”
Still, Ridgewood fended off Mitchell’s first comeback attempt, which saw the 36-27 halftime lead reduced to two points late in the third quarter. Green hit 3s to begin and end the stretch, with the Rams up 56-47 with seven minutes to go.
“That’s what Ridgewood can do, shoot the ball. We knew we had to speed them up,” St. Charles said.
Mitchell’s 14-0 run was keyed by a Watt 3, and his free throws with 3:25 left gave the Mustangs their first lead since the early going.
A Conley shot made it 61-56, but Green got Ridgewood back in the game by forcing a turnover and hitting a 3 to make it 63-62 with 90 seconds left.
Free throws were critical for the Mustangs. They made all eight of their fourth-quarter tries and were 21 for 24 on the night. Ridgewood did not get to the line at all in the second half.