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Mitchell's last-second effort lifts East Boston over O'Bryant

Posted by Metro Desk  January 31, 2014 09:52 PM

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With just seconds to play in Friday’s Boston City League battle between O’Bryant and East Boston, Jets junior forward John Mitchell brought the home crowd to its feet as he collected an offensive rebound, scored, and drew a foul. The bucket broke a 59-59 tie and crushed the Tigers’ hopes for a comeback.

Mitchell sank the free throw to complete the 3-point play and seal the 62-59 win for East Boston.

“I had to get the rebound and finish and that’s what I had to do,” Mitchell said. “It was a great team effort from everybody.”

Mitchell finished with 10 points in the winning effort. Jets coach Shawn Brown said he was proud of Mitchell for his play in the game’s final minutes after struggling in the first half.

“In the second half John came out and played better,” Brown said. “And you can see his passion down that stretch was huge for us. He came up with the big rebound, and-1, and that’s what the kid’s capable of when he plays and plays with heart.”

East Boston junior guard Dion Knight and O’Bryant senior center Ben Lawler each scored 22 points. Jets junior forward Kevin Sinatra chipped in 9.

“He’s a 6-5 post player who can also shoot,” O’Bryant coach Drew Brock said of Lawler. “He’s a five-tool athlete. He can post up, he can shoot, he can shoot threes, he makes free throws. He plays with a little bit of a chip, which I kinda like. It kinda makes him good that he plays with that edge.”

The Jets held a 15-9 lead after the first quarter. Solid defense from East Boston held O’Bryant’s usually stellar shooters at bay, but the Tigers began to claw their way back in the second frame.

Two 3s from senior forward Joseph Farrell and another from freshman guard Romario Ebanks helped O’Bryant cut into the Jets’ lead.

East Boston led, 32-27, at halftime.

O’Bryant opened the second half with a layup from Lawler. Strong team defense and 8 combined points from Farrell and Tigers senior guard Ricardo Ortiz tied the game at 37 apiece.

The was knotted once again midway through the third quarter when Sinatra scored to put East Boston back on top, 43-41.

“Kevin Sinatra is one of the toughest kids on the team and he always gives it his all,” Brown said. “I thought he was big for us. Got in some foul trouble, picked up his fourth in the third quarter, played the whole fourth quarter with four fouls and was smart. He’s a smart player and a smart kid.”

East Boston pulled ahead but the Tigers refused to back down. At the end of three quarters, O’Bryant trailed by just 2 points.

“Heading up to the fourth quarter, we just had to play hard,” Mitchell said. “They came up, knocked down some big shots. So coach called a timeout, got us in there and he just said ‘let’s go. Gotta get it.’”

O’Bryant’s defense came up with a crucial stop to open the final frame. Buckets from Lawler and Farrell gave O’Bryant the advantage, but East Boston fought back and regained the lead after a 3-pointer from Sinatra.

East Boston senior guard Marcus Shaw nailed a 3 with less than two minutes to go in the game to give the Jets a 59-56 lead, but Lawler answered on the following possession with a 3 of his own from the top of the key.

With the game tied and time running off the clock, East Boston pushed the ball up the court. Knight’s attempt at a layup bounced off the rim, but Mitchell corralled the ball and put it in to give the Jets the lead.

“Big shot,” Sinatra said of Mitchell’s last-second effort. “We win games when he comes in big.”

Brown said he was proud of his team’s performance in the fourth quarter.

“You know playing against a little adversity,” Brown said. “These guys came, made a little run, actually took the lead and we just fought through it, weathered the storm and came up with some big plays down the stretch.”

With Friday’s victory, East Boston improved to 8-5 on the season. The Jets need two more wins to qualify for the state tournament, and with four games remaining on the schedule, a postseason berth is not out of the question.

“Coach Brown’s just been saying the whole season — I mean we started off a little rough — he told us, ‘you guys play together, good things will happen,’” Sinatra said. “We control our own destiny. He’s been saying that all year.”

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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