NEW PORT RICHEY — State 3-point leader Katie Horan of Osceola burned Mitchell for 34 points less than three weeks ago, so defending her was a top priority for the Mustangs in Wednesday's Class 6A, District 10 semifinal.
They probably overshot their goal. Horan only scored six and Mitchell held Osceola without a point for more than 14 minutes in the Mustangs' 38-25 victory that ensured a fourth straight trip to the postseason.
"I really don't keep track of the points, but six? That's some defense right there," said Mitchell center Ashley Lewis, who had a lot of the responsibility to defend Horan, who recently made 10 3-pointers in a game and had 91.
Mitchell (14-10) will visit top-seeded Dixie Hollins (15-5) in Friday's championship game.
Osceola (13-15) was seeking its first trip to the playoffs since 1986. With only five teams in 6A-10 and having beaten Mitchell in overtime three weeks ago, the odds weren't bad.
But the Warriors were simply off, making just 4 of 21 from long distance. They were shut out in the second quarter. Mitchell wasn't doing much better until it scored five points late in the half to lead 14-6.
"It's hard not to look at the scoreboard and go 'Yeesh, we only have 14.' But they only had six," Mitchell coach Jacob Tavo said. "I think we wore them down on defense."
Lewis had more points in the first half (eight) than Osceola and finished with a team-high 14. She added seven rebounds, five of them on the offensive glass in the first half. Alani Alexander contributed 10 rebounds, eight after halftime, along with scoring six points. Sophomore guard Mickey Sherrill came off the bench to score six and relieved Lewis in guarding Horan.
Brooke Sponheimer battled through injuries to lead Osceola with 15 points.
For a game that lacked offense much of the night, the Mustangs needed just one spurt to put it away. That stretch came after Horan had a steal and layup to make it 21-12 with two minutes left in the third quarter. But Sherrill and Alexander made back-to-back baskets and Lewis blocked Horan, then scored on the other end to make it 27-12 with 12 seconds left.
In the other semifinal, Dixie Hollins' Meagan Thomas scored 34 in leading the Rebels to a 65-51 win over Largo.