NEW PORT RICHEY — Mitchell fought off a fourth-quarter rally by Anclote to move on in the 4A-7 district tournament Friday. The Mustangs were nearly perfect from the line in the final minutes, beating the Sharks 53-48.
"We missed some early on in the half that if we had hit those, it would have made it a little more comfortable," Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles said.
Mitchell consistently kept creeping ahead. The Mustangs were up by four at the end of the first quarter, nine at the end of the second and 10 at the end of the third.
The Sharks opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run and stifling defense, cutting the deficit to two with only two minutes to play.
"They did a great job with the press," St. Charles said. "I was really upset with the way our guys handled it. I thought we should have done a better job."
Mitchell responded with a 5-0 run before the Sharks narrowed it back to a four-point lead with 1:11 left. On the next possession the Mustangs widened the lead to six and Anclote started sending them to the line.
In double bonus most of the fourth quarter, the Mustangs had to stave off the Sharks from the line, which they did, going 4-of-5 in the final minutes. Mike Francis and Austin Sharpe split the four clutch free throws, but Chad Jeckel led the scoring with 27.
Mitchell will be competing for the crown with Ridgewood, which slowly broke down Wesley Chapel, topping the Wildcats 68-50.
Although the opening minutes were tight, the Rams eventually turned on the heat and stepped in front of Wesley Chapel by eight at the end of the first quarter.
Up 32-15 at the end of the first half, the Rams were outscored 19-13 in the third quarter, only to come back and score 22 to put the game out of reach.
The Rams' leading scorer was Charles Jones who posted 21, including three baskets from behind the arc.