TRINITY — Host Mitchell won its first district title, riding Ryan Doherty’s hot hand to a 64-40 victory over Land O’Lakes in the Class 6A, District 10 final.
Never has the Mustangs’ scoring depth been put on display better than in their two tournament games. Doherty scored 23 after he was shut out in the semifinals against River Ridge. And the leading scorer from that game, Bernie Conley, finished with zero points Friday.
For good measure Mitchell’s leading scorer for the year, Lawrence Watt, was held to two points. Yet the Mustangs’ offense worked like a machine, connecting on more than half its shots outside a cold third quarter.
“We can go 10-deep sometimes,” said Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles. “Things are going well for us right now. It’s very emotional because these kids really work so hard.”
A young Gators team will still make the playoffs despite a losing record (11-12). Poor shooting hampered their efforts; Land O’Lakes hit a shade under 25 percent on the night. Doherty had the same number of made field goals (six) as the entire Gator team in the first half.
It was a tight game for five minutes then Doherty came off the bench. He hit a 3, the first of his five, to make the score 12-7 and added the final basket of the first quarter for a 16-9 lead.
Mitchell (20-7) poured it on in the second with Doherty scoring 11 capped by a long 3 that put his team ahead 33-16.
“I’ve had some off nights this year, but I decided this was not going to be one of those games where I lose my confidence,” Doherty said. “It helps when you have a bunch of great teammates who can handle the ball, and it’s not like there’s pressure on me to do the majority of the scoring.”
After trailing by as many as 18 Land O’Lakes got the margin down to 42-32 early in the fourth quarter. But Mitchell ripped off an impressive 13-0 run that took just 21/2 minutes. Doherty started it by firing a pass to Sean Thompson for a layup then Thompson hit a 3 as part of his 17-point night. A steal led to Doherty’s layup and Zach Rapaport’s dunk on a Conley feed provided the big highlight.
Rapaport had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Mike Obi paced the visitors with 11 points; he was the only Gator with more than one second-half field goal. Justin Forchion added six points, all in the first half.
Nine Mustangs tallied, with little-used senior Bret Johnson giving the crowd a rise with his late 3. Mitchell made 10 total.
As happy as he was for the district title, St. Charles was just as pleased about a bonus benefit.
“It means we don’t have to travel to Polk County. We get to host — not saying it’s going to be easy because it will be super difficult.”
5A-7: Nature Coast pulls out a thriller in OT
EUSTIS — Nature Coast won its second straight Class 5A, District 7 title and third in the past four years on senior point guard Vic Davila’s 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in overtime for a 58-56 victory Friday night.
“The game was all over the place, both up and down,” Sharks coach Dave Pisarcik said. “We got down, and we responded, and then the wheels came off. But credit Eustis — they came out and battled.”
In the fourth quarter, after a Rohan Blackwood basket, the Sharks (24-3) built a 45-31 lead with 7:06 remaining.
From there, the second-seeded Panthers (17-10) went on a 17-3 run to send it to overtime tied at 48. Dustin Dunham (eight points) and Anthony Allen (17) had 10 points combined during the spurt.
In overtime, Allen converted three free throws after Nature Coast fouls to give the Panthers a 51-48 lead.
Sharks center Sam Mazzia had another solid outing with eight points off the bench, including four in overtime. A Mazzia basket put the Sharks up 54-53, then the Panthers’ KC Coleman hit a wild shot off the backboard to give Eustis the lead. Eustis had a chance to close it out, but missed three of the next four free throws, which set up Davila’s 3 for a 57-56 lead. Wyatt Hessler stole the Panthers’ inbound pass and was fouled with 1.5 seconds left, converting one of the free throws to cap scoring.
“It happened in a snap,” Davila said. “As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was good.”
Carlos Clemente, who had 21 points and hit five 3s, fed the pass to Davila for the winner.
7A-9: Bulls flatfooted in final minutes
LUTZ — When sleep does come to Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeremy Calzone, and those visions of Chamberlain senior Reggie Hart materialize, a skinny sophomore named Rashawn Fredericks may be lurking in the nocturnal backdrop.
A year after scoring 40 on the Bulls in the Class 7A, District 9 final, Hart went for 35 in Friday’s sequel. Yet it was Fredericks’ low-post assertion down the stretch that propelled Chamberlain to a 66-56 triumph at Steinbrenner High.
The victory gave Chamberlain (20-5) its third consecutive district title.
“Although Reggie scored 35,” Chiefs coach Christopher Snyder said, “Quick glance, without watching the tape, Rashawn Fredericks is the MVP of this game.”
A 6-foot-4, 150-pounder, Fredericks (16 points) converted three entry passes into six points and pinned a Bulls layup attempt against the glass during a 10-0 Chiefs run to close out the game. Hart had the other four points, converting all four his free throws in the final 1:34.
“(Fredericks) was the recipient because we were bringing so much attention to Reggie,” Calzone said.
The late spurt capped a dominant second half by the Chiefs, who opted to utilize their post advantage in the second half after trying to match jump shots with Wiregrass Ranch early on and paying for it.
A 12-0 third-quarter run, capped by Fredericks’ basket off a Hart alley-oop, gave Chamberlain a 48-43 lead.
“Settling for jump shots is not our game,” Hart said. “Attacking the basket is what we’re way more successful at, so that’s why (Snyder) got mad at us.”
The Bulls tied the score at 50 on Elijah Blackman’s 3-pointer, then tied it again at 56-all on Ricky Ramirez’s inside basket before going scoreless the last 2 1/2 minutes.
The end stood in stark contrast to the outset, when the Bulls flourished in their quick-shot tempo and drained five of their nine 3-pointers in the first quarter. Senior Chris Parra (17 points) had five treys before fouling out in the waning moments — when nothing would fall for the Bulls.
Senior Rico Kerney added 14 for Wiregrass Ranch (20-7).
“I thought we did everything right tonight, we played great defense,” Calzone said. “Unfortunately, we just stopped making shots.”
5A-8: Anclote finally gets over the hump
WESLEY CHAPEL — Anclote avenged two earlier losses to Hudson and clinched the first playoff berth in its four-year history with a 53-30 win in Friday’s Class 5A, District 8 semifinal.
“It’s been a long four years to try to get here,” Anclote coach Jason Szymanski said. “Every year, we’ve gotten to the second round and we’ve always come up short. I told them, ‘Make history.’ ”
The Sharks take on host Wesley Chapel in tonight’s district final. The Wildcats, district runners-up last year and seeking their first district title since the 2005-06 season, defeated Ridgewood 75-59.
Trailing 9-6, Anclote (17-8) broke open a close game with an 18-2 run in the second quarter. Then things got worse for Hudson (12-15), which lost starting guard Bryce Durham to a gash on his forehead after a collision with Dylan Walsh midway through the third quarter. Walsh suffered a split lip, but returned to the court.
Anclote’s Shy Carter led a balanced attack with 19 points. Drew Driscoll added 14 and Ty Carter had 12.
“They wanted revenge,” Szymanski said. “They know they didn’t play well in those two games (against Hudson). They wanted it.”
A strong second quarter also made the difference for Wesley Chapel, with the Wildcats (23-4) outscoring Ridgewood 19-9 in that frame. The Rams (15-11) did, however, pull within 10 points late in the game on back-to-back 3s by Adam Ibrahim and Brandon Green before Wesley Chapel hit some clutch free throws.
“It was not our best performance, but I think that had a lot to do with Ridgewood,” Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth said. “I thought we did a good job there down the stretch.”
Erik Thomas, who entered the tournament with a 33.5 scoring average, led four Wildcats in double figures with 36 points. Brian Rodriguez and Carson Emery each had 11, and Marcus Hayne added 10. Tristan Ficarro and Green each scored 17 for the Rams.
2A-8: Tampa Bay Christian 78, Academy at the Lakes 40: The Rams (20-1) dominated all night to roll to a 38-point and claim the championship Friday night at Citrus Park Christian.
The first two meetings were relatively close, but TBC steam-rolled the Wildcats (14-12) from the start and held AATL to 20 percent shooting.
“We just couldn’t get anything to go right,” AATL coach Tom Haslam said. “Defensive lapses. Missed assignments. You name it. Everything went wrong. Bad night for that to happen.”
TBC’s standout junior forward, Dan Manzi, led the Rams’ ownership of the boards and finished with a game-high 19 points. Ethan Haslam led AATL with 12 points, and Evan Gordy chipped in six.
Staff writer Joey Knight and correspondents Steve Lee and Joe Kornecki III contributed to this report.