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Haines City outmuscles Ridgewood in 3A-IV

Ridgewood High School's girls tried to play high-percentage basketball Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Rams, Haines City wasn't in a cooperative mood. The Hornets defeated Ridgewood 59-37 in the Class 3A, Region IV playoff game.

Haines City (28-4) will play for the Class 3A, Section II title Saturday against either Sanford Seminole or Gainesville Bucholz.

In the first half, Haines City was able to get several shots underneath the basket, but the Rams stayed close. By the third quarter, the Hornets got second, third and even fourth attempts at the basket.

Latoya Johnson's layup _ off a fourth try _ in the third quarter illustrated Haines City's muscle in the second half. It gave the Hornets a 31-18 lead.

By the end of the third quarter, Haines City led 45-24.

"They wore us down," said Ridgewood coach Jim Bavetta. "They went through their district easily, while we had to battle our way through."

Hornets coach David Mead complimented his team's ability to get the ball inside.

"That's our game plan _ we like to get it inside _ and we did a good job of that tonight," Mead said. "They gave us trouble in the first half, but I think it was a matter of just settling down."

Of Haines City's 26 baskets, 21 resulted from strong, interior offense.

Four of the Hornets' starting five scored in double figures, led by Vernocia Bell's 14 points. Ridgewood was paced by Rachel Parker and Chrissy Mourtakos, who scored nine points each.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak by the Rams. Ridgewood finished at 14-11.