The SAC boys tournament will have a new champion for the first time in four years thanks to senior Justin Mitchell and the host Wayne Generals.
Mitchell bounced back from first-half foul trouble in the second half and led the Generals to a 55-47 win Thursday over three-time defending champion Northrop at Wayne.
We are obviously better when he is in the game, Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer said of Mitchell. Justin is our best player. In the second half, we dumbed it down a little and gave him the ball in the middle and let him attack. It worked out well for us.
The third-seeded Generals outscored the No. 6 Bruins 19-9 in the third quarter with Mitchell getting eight points and six rebounds as Wayne led 40-32 to start the fourth and held on for the same margin of victory.
Mitchell, a Wright State recruit, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, all in the second half.
I just wanted to keep a positive attitude and lead my team, Mitchell said of the second half. I know that’s my team out there, and I have to lead them in the right direction.
I was hungry after not scoring in the first half. My teammates were like it’s your half, so go out there and prove it.
Mitchell’s twin brother, Jescus Mitchell, led the Generals with 18 points, while Cameron LeShore added 11.
Northrop (4-5) beat Wayne (5-1) 67-58 on Dec. 13.
We out-toughed them this time, Justin Mitchell said of the rematch. We just have to play hard.
Rehrer said the difference this time was better rebounding and a better attitude, like not duplicating the five technical fouls last time against the Bruins.
We kept our heads, Rehrer said. We didn’t have five technicals. When things weren’t going our way, we stuck together and made better decisions.
Wayne plays second-seeded Snider, an 88-50 win over No. 7 South Side, at 8:15 p.m. today in the SAC tourney semifinals.
The Bruins had won the last three SAC tournament titles, but graduated a lot of talent from those teams, including Bryson and Brenton Scott.
It’s definitely disappointing, Northrop coach Barak Coolman said. You have to give Wayne a lot of credit. They fixed some things they didn’t do well against us the first time. Obviously we are disappointed to lose the game because we know we are capable of beating Wayne, but also the bigger picture it is disappointing not to continue what we have started (in the SAC tourney).
Jacoby Claypool led Northrop with 15 points.
Northrop led 23-21 at halftime as Justin Mitchell picked up his second foul midway through the first quarter and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.
We didn’t play good offense for a few possessions, Coolman said. Our defense was good, but obviously you have to build a little bit of a lead when he’s not in there. It just didn’t happen. It was the biggest game a majority of our guys have played in, and it showed.
The SAC tournament is sponsored by SportONE Ortho Northeast.