Left-handed buzzer-beater from Mitchell sinks Ashwaubenon
By Greg Bates
ASHWAUBENON – Chris Mitchell is naturally a right-handed shooter, but Friday night he proved he can be ambidextrous on the basketball court.
The Notre Dame Academy boys’ basketball player hit a number of clutch shots against rival Ashwaubenon.
However, it was the senior’s left-handed runner that bounced in at the buzzer to help Notre Dame pull off an upset 74-72 in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) action.
Undefeated Ashwaubenon, ranked No. 5 in Division 2, had tied the game moments earlier as standout Marcus Tomashek hit a shot with 22.5 seconds remaining.
With two timeouts at his disposal, first-year Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Bobinski opted to let his guys play through and set up a game-winning shot.
“I was looking for anything that was open, honestly,” Mitchell said. “We ran that play at the end, and there’s lots of looks and passes out of it — options for other guys. They switched the screen, so it opened up lanes for me. Then (Ashwaubenon’s Boone Kirst) jumped on the fake, so I had the lane with the left hand.”
Mitchell released the shot in the lane at 1.8 seconds, it hit the back of the rim, bounced up high and went in.
“It felt good, yeah,” Mitchell said. “Then I saw it go up off the rim, and I saw it stay on line. I was starting to get happy. It felt like slo-mo, to be honest. It hung up there for a long time.”
After the ball went through the hoop, Mitchell was immediately mobbed by his teammates as he raced toward the bench.
Notre Dame’s student section soon followed the celebration.
“We were all excited,” Mitchell, who finished with a team-high 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting, said. “This is a team we lost to three times last year.”
The victory was the first for Bobinski.
He said he was thrilled Mitchell was rewarded with the game-winning basket.
“I was at De Pere for seven years, and I’ve been around lots of good players who work hard,” Bobinski said. “Chris works as hard as any of them. I was impressed when I started working with these guys on how hard he works. He’s good at shooting pull-up jump shots. He spends a ton of time doing it, and it showed. He was hitting huge shots all night, but the one at the end we needed, he made it.”
It was an important victory for the Tritons after they dropped their first two games of the season — also to state-ranked teams.
“We had two tough games to start the season, played two good teams,” Bobinski said. “We were short-handed at times, and it would have been easy for (my guys) during this game to get down about circumstances, but they never did. We went down one point, and they never hung their heads or gave up. They kept competing, and that’s what got us through the day.”
Notre Dame was in control of much of the game thanks in large part to shooting 62% (30-for-48) from the field.
There were only three ties, and Ashwaubenon led twice, each time by one point.
The Tritons (1-2 overall, 1-0 FRCC) jumped out to a 19-7 lead as Mitchell scored seven early points.
Ashwaubenon (2-1, 0-1) answered with a 14-4 run to pull within two, 29-27.
The Jaguars got a basket late from Marcus Tomashek to take its first lead of the game into the half, 34-33.
In the second half, Notre Dame broke a 36-all tie with an 11-3 run, but again, Ashwaubenon bounced back, this time a 15-7 spurt tied it at 54-54.
The Tritons, who scored 15 second-chance points, led 71-70 after Ashwaubenon’s Jayden Schoen drained a 3-pointer with 1:30 left on the clock.
Notre Dame’s Wall-Atim hit one of two free throws to put his team up 72-70 with 1:16 remaining.
The Jaguars took a timeout to set up their game-tying shot by Tomashek, who finished with a game-high 32 points on 13-for-22 shooting.
Ashwaubenon Head Coach Mark Tomashek said he knows his team’s slow start doomed them and they had to play catch up the whole game.
“We spotted them 12 or 14 points to start the game,” he said. “After that, we outscored them by 15 points, basically the rest of the game. You can’t give up that to a good team. They’re a good team and were hungry.”
The Tritons got nice games from junior Emmett Lawton, who had 21 points, and senior Keegan King, who finished with 20 points.
The Jaguars, who shot 51% (24-for-47), got 19 points from Matt Imig.
Notre Dame continues its difficult early-season schedule with Sheboygan North coming to town Dec. 14.
It will be the Tritons’ first home game of the year.
Mitchell said he’s hoping the team’s last-second victory Friday will help carry over and build momentum.
“We can’t look ahead for anything,” he said. “It’s our next practice and game Tuesday. Day by day. Present moment.”