6A Girls: Winter Haven Starts Slow, Finishes Strong; Kathleen Advances
Fri. February 08, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. | By Mike Cobb
Winter Haven's Cynkeria Mobley maneuvers around River Ridge's Kayle Stark during Thursday's 6A regional quarterfinal. (Photo by PAUL CRATE | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP)
By MIKE COBB
WINTER HAVEN | It took Winter Haven a little while to get cranked up Thursday night in the Class 6A girls basketball regional quarterfinals.
But once the Blue Devils did, they took off, rolling to a 66-27 win over River Ridge at Winter Haven High School.
Winter Haven will host district-foe Kathleen Tuesday night in the regional semifinals. Kathleen defeated Mitchell, 55-24.
Winter Haven trailed 9-7 after the first quarter, and the game was tied at 12 midway through the second quarter when the Blue Devils picked up their defensive pressure and began turning steals into points.
The Blue Devils (20-8) outscored River Ridge 12-2, with Cynkeria Mobley turning five steals into points, to give Winter Haven a 26-16 halftime lead.
"The intensity wasn't there (at the start). I was very displeased with Mobley and (Zeneka) Willix," Winter Haven coach Johnnie Lawson said about his team's slow start.
"I had to get them over and give them a piece of my mind. After that, I think they understood."
Mobley scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the second quarter.
"We tried to come in intense, but I don't know what got to us," Mobley said. "He (Lawson) gave us a little talk and we ended up bringing it on defense."
Zeneka Willix scored 10 points during a 25-point third quarter that saw Winter Haven extend its 10-point halftime lead to 51-20 after three quarters. Willix finished with 18.
Lawson, whose team has been to the FHSAA Final Four 11 of the past 13 years, said he liked the way his team responded after the slow start ... and his talk.
"We have to play intense defense and rebound. That's how we get back to Lakeland (for the FHSAA Final Four). If not, we go home early," Lawson said.
RIVER RIDGE (27): Celeste Pinto 2, Carly Wallace 0, Jessica McCann 0, Justine Vega 2, Jalynn Hoolihan 2, Kayle Stark 2, Emily Corbitt 0, Mackenzie Corbitt 0, Leah Ford 12, Eve Hay 3, Brittany Klinger 2, Shayla Bell-Francis 0, Hannah Grant 2. Totals 12 0-0 27.
WINTER HAVEN (66): Tekera Henderson 0, Ta'Lena Freeney 3, Ly'Na Battles 5, Shantrice Solomon 7, Chrisana Scott 5, Khadijah Howell 4, Shaterrika O'Neal 5, Cynkeria Mobley 19, Zeneka Willix 18. Totals 26 12-24 66.
River Ridge 9 7 4 7 — 27
Winter Haven 7 19 25 15 — 66
Records: Winter Haven 20-8, River Ridge 16-12.
Kathleen 55, Mitchell 24
NEW PORT RICHEY | Kathleen's defense clamped down in the second half, allowing just five points to pick up the win and set up another game against Winter Haven.
Christin Strawbridge led the Red Devils with 15 points.
KATHLEEN (55): Kiara Abrams 7, Jasmine Holmes 8, Mercedes Sirmons 5, Anaya Thomas 5, Destiney Small 14, Christin Strawbridge 15, Tommy'chia Larry 1. Totals 21 12-21 55.
MITCHELL (24): K. Knudsen 3, H. Criston 19, A. Alexander 2. Totals 7 4-6 24.
KHS 14 11 18 12 — 55
MTC 5 14 2 3 — 24
Record: Kathleen 17-8.