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Jordan Mitchell's free throws clinch Cibola's win over Kofa
After the final buzzer sounded, Paul Mitchell had his arms wrapped around his younger brother, Jordan Mitchell.
As they walked toward the team's bench, Paul Mitchell had a message for his sibling.
“I said that even though we struggled a little bit, he kept his head and he kept up his good work,” the older brother said. “And that's what helped us finish the game with those two clutch free throws that he hit.”
Those two free throws with 21 seconds left were the only points Jordan Mitchell scored, but they represented the winning points as Cibola slipped past Kofa 39-37 in a Gila Valley Region contest Tuesday at Ernest F. Rillos Gym.
For the Raiders (6-1 overall, 2-1 GVR), it was a much needed victory considering they are on the outside looking in for a potential playoff spot while Kofa was ranked No. 14 in the AIA Power Rankings. The top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs.
“We were really pressing for that win more than they were, I think, because when it comes down to the power points, we needed a region win,” Cibola coach Tim Keller said. “This is a huge win for us to come on their floor and take the game from them.”
After Stephen Johnson's lay-up with 31 seconds remaining tied the game at 37, Cibola broke Kofa's full-court press with a couple of deft passes, the last of which found a streaking Jordan Mitchell heading to the hoop. Jordan Mitchell caught the pass in stride and was fouled by Vitor Malagutti near the basket area.
As Jordan Mitchell headed to the charity stripe, he admitted he had butterflies.
“I was kind of nervous because I didn't want to miss them and let my team down,” said Jordan Mitchell, a sophomore. “But I pulled away with it.”
Kofa (7-3 overall, 2-1 GVR) had two chances to send the game into overtime, but Johnson missed a mid-range jumper from the left wing and when Jorge Barreda tracked down the offensive rebound, he stepped out of bounds on his way to the hoop.
Paul Mitchell and Marcus Harris led Cibola with 12 points each.
Kofa's Charles Weekly led all scorers with 14 points, all but one of which came in the second half.
Cibola jumped out to a 12-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Raiders maintained their lead between six and 12 points until midway through the third quarter. That's when Kofa coach Danilo Montialli, who said his team was flat in the first half, decided to employ the full-court press.
“I wanted to change the pace of the game,” Montialli said. “Cibola started holding the ball and slowing down the game, I wanted us to get a higher number of possessions.”
Montialli's ploy worked as Kofa went on a 15-4 run capped off by Weekly's 3-pointer to take a short-lived 30-29 lead. About a minute later, Harris nailed a trey from the left wing to give Cibola the lead back for good.
Cheng Sio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6866.