WHITEMARSH — "Coach D was saying in the locker room that it's not many times you have a do-over in life and this was the perfect opportunity,' said Plymouth Whitemarsh guard Andre Mitchell after the Colonials handily defeated the Dobbins Mustangs on Friday night. "We had the same situation, coming into the second half on top, probably the same exact score, and this time we were able to put it away.'
The Colonials started the 2013-14 season as many teams would like, with a win. Their 71-49 victory over the visiting Mustangs came without ever trailing in the game. Andre Mitchell, playing from the point and later shifting to shooting guard, lit up the court with 35 points with four three-pointers and 8-for-10 from the line.
"It felt good to have my first chance to be a big part of the team,' Mitchell said. "I took advantage of the opportunity.'
Good perimeter shooting gave the Colonials the advantage on Friday night and from the get-go it was Mitchell who led the charge. Throwing his body into harm's way in the lane, he earned early two trips to the line and capped off an 8-0 start with a steal, a layup and an and-one.
Defensively, the Colonials shifted between man-to-man defensive and various zone looks with a full-court trap set to hinder the Mustangs' fast break. Three full minutes passed until the Mustang put points on the board, but then with a bit of a run of their own — bringing the score back to 13-9 — the game was on.
"Dobbins is really going to be a north-south team, so we didn't want to do anything other [avoid] making dumb bump fouls,' said Colonials head coach Jim Donofrio. "Of course they were there, but that's a first game thing. We were a little undisciplined at times, but that's fixable.'
Fouls became an issue after the first quarter for the Colonials. Chippy reaching calls, charges and blocks were abundant, as the Colonials sent the Mustangs to the line five times in the second quarter. Dobbins meanwhile, tightened up and sent the Colonials to the stripe just twice in the second quarter.
PW chose often to swing the ball around the perimeter to look for open jump shots. The inside presence they established early went by the wayside as Mitchell, Jimmy Murray and Manuel ' JR' Herezi hit outside shots with ease. Forward TJ Minetola, who had 8 points, was money with the baseline jumper.
"We share the ball a lot, we like to make the extra pass,' Minetola said. "We're smaller so we definitely need to do some post-work in practice, and we've been working on that.'
In last year's season opener, PW led Dobbins at the half only to suffer a 61-50 loss, but this year, with a 34-25 lead at the break, PW doubled their lead in the third quarter. The Colonials started with a freebie technical at the beginning of the third due to a Dobbin's player dunking the ball during warmups, and then hit four three-pointers in the quarter. At one point, Mitchell scored all 12 points on a 12-2 run with two three-pointers and a three-point-play in quick succession.
"[Andre] is a gamer and that's a huge sign for us,' Donofrio said.
"He definitely put the team on his back and pulled us through,' Minetola said.
Mitchell's career-high performance will certain be a huge benefit to the Colonial squad, which coming into the season had a glaring hole in the go-to scorer position. His ability to both run the point and also switch to the two-guard position while Brett Paul and Herezi run the show will give the Colonials a boost late in games. Plus, he's a physical player who isn't afraid to body up in the post and drive hard into the lane. But, the core of the team's identity will be sharing the ball.
"We try to view our team as the San Antonio Spurs — an old-school team, pass first, shoot second, pass to the best shot, not a good shot,' Mitchell said. "That's what we pride ourselves on.'
The Colonials won't always be able to rely on the outside shot, however. The inside presence of Minetola, Cameron Johnson and Mike Loltito will be key to the Colonials' success this season, and their front court will be put to the test next week against the Archbishop Carroll Patriots.
"There's no pressure on us in that game,' Donofrio said. "But, we've got to see how hard we play, we have to learn what gear we have.'
the Colonials will play next Wednesday at the Archbishop Carroll home opener at 7 p.m.
Plymouth Whitemarsh (71) — Andre Mitchell 10 6-8 30; Manuel Herezi 4 0-0 9; TJ Minetola 4 0-0 8; Jimmy Murray 2 2-2 8; Alex Williams 2 3-3 7; Cameron Johnson 1 1-1 3; Brett Paul 1 0-2 1; Mike Lotito 1 0-0 2.
Dobbins (49) — Tyron Roberson 6 2-3 14; Andre Cannedy 5 2-6 13; Kahlil Parker 3 5-8 11; Davante Laws 1 3-3 6; Jarelle Pinckney 1 0-0 2; Nizja Laison 1 0-0 2; Lamar Parker 0 1-2 1; Dashawn Gindraw 0 0-2 0.
Three-point points: Mitchell (3), Jimmy Murray (2), Herezi, Laws, Cannedy.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 17 17 21 16—71
Dobbins 11 14 15 9—49