LAND O' LAKES – Most of Mitchell's 6-0 start has come on the heels of blowout victories. In Friday's key Class 6A-10 district match-up at Sunlake, the Mustangs proved they could win the close ones, too.
Despite playing with foul trouble, Jake Driscoll scored a team-high 28 points and the Mustangs, nursing a four-point lead, bled nearly all of the final 1:36 off the clock to hold on for a 60-53 victory.
"That's something we've been working on in practice," Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles said of his team's ability to protect the ball late, "because we know we're going to need to win games in the fourth quarter. It shows the maturity of this team and will give us a lot of experience so we know what we're doing come district playoff time."
With Driscoll sitting early in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs actually extended their six-point lead. Jordan Dong chipped in 10 points for Mitchell, while Freddie Jones and Ryan Doherty each had eight.
The balanced attack helped the Mustangs overcome a brilliant effort from Pedro Pabon, who led all scorers with 31 points for Sunlake. Time and again Pabon would drive the middle of the Mitchell defense and either score off jumpers in the paint or pass to open teammates for easy layups.
Mitchell led 45-41 after three quarters and led by as many as 10 on three separate occasions in the fourth before the Seahawks (2-1, 0-1) made one last comeback bid. A Jonuel Martinez layup off a turnover and Brenden Huynh's basket inside pulled Sunlake within 57-53. But from there, Mitchell played keep away without taking a shot until Driscoll was finally fouled with 15 seconds remaining. His two free throws and another from Jones sealed what has been a surprising undefeated start for the Mustangs.
"To win on the road and to do it in a close game is only going to help us down the road," St. Charles said. "It wasn't always pretty and there wasn't a lot of rhythm at times, but we found a way to win and proved that we're a lot more than just Jake Driscoll."
MITCHELL 60, SUNLAKE 53
MITCHELL (60)—Jones 2 2-4 8, Watt 0 0-2 0, Conley 2 1-2 5, Dong 2 2-3 10, Devereaux 0 1-2 1, Johnson 0 0-1 0, Doherty 3 0-0 8, Pack 0 0-0 0, Driscoll 6 13-14 28. Totals— 17 17-23 60.
SUNLAKE (53)—Martinez 1 0-0 2, Pabon 10 7-11 31, Bragg 0 0-2 0, Tabais 2 2-3 6, Huynh 4 2-3 10, Ramirez 0 1-4 1, Doyel 1 0-0 2. Totals—17 12-21 53.
Mitchell 12 18 15 15 - 60
Sunlake 15 11 15 12 - 53
3-point goals—Jones 2; Jordan Dong 2; Ryan Doherty 2; Driscoll (M); Pabon 4 (S). Records—M 6-0, 1-0, S 2-1, 0-1.