Published: February 11, 2014
Mitchell stole a three-point win just three days ago at Sierra, and Tuesday night, the Stallions returned the favor on the Marauders' home floor.
The game was almost identical to the previous contest, but this time Sierra did enough down the stretch to come away with a 36-33 win - its biggest of the season.
"We knew this was a game we had to have, and it's definitely the biggest win we've had so far," Sierra big man Michael Jordan said. "We just had to calm down and stay focused and not let the crowd or anything else bother us."
The game didn't start well for Sierra (8-11, 6-4 4A Colorado Springs Metro League), as it got behind 13-3 after the first quarter. From there, the Stallions controlled every aspect of the game, including building a 28-20 lead in the third quarter and never letting Mitchell (10-10, 7-2) regain the lead.
Sierra clung to a 34-33 advantage with 30 seconds left in the game, when Tevion Thompson made two key plays to clinch it. The junior first stole the ball when Mitchell tried to throw it into the post. He then calmly sank two free throws to give Sierra a three-point lead.
"We brought more intensity and we were hungrier than them tonight," said Thompson, who led Sierra with nine points. "Saturday was a disappointing night, and we wanted this game."
Sierra coach Terry Dunn was beyond pleased with the fight his team showed.
"Mitchell is a very good team, and to come in here and win a game is huge for us," Dunn said. "When you're rebuilding and have a young team, every road win is big. I thought we did some good things tonight, and to be able to get defensive stops and convert on the free-throw line was huge."
Mitchell felt the same sting of a close loss at home that Sierra suffered three days ago. The Marauders saw their six-game winning streak snapped due to poor execution and costly turnovers.
"We got out-toughed for every loose ball and they outrebounded us; it was just bad," Mitchell coach Jarris Krapcha said. "The main point going forward is if we want to have success down the road we have to get a lot tougher. There's a lesson to be learned tonight, and while you never want to lose, sometimes it takes a loss to get refocused."
It wasn't all bad for Mitchell. The Marauders received some help from Coronado, which beat Mesa Ridge and kept Mitchell tied in the loss column in the league standings with the Grizzlies (12-9, 8-2).
Still, Mitchell guard David Perea wasn't thrilled with the performance his squad put forth.
"This is the kind of loss we probably needed, because we were slacking off in practice and not taking it as seriously as we should have," said Perea, who scored five points in the final two minutes to keep Mitchell close. "I knew Sierra was going to come out hard, and this type of game will toughen us up for the playoffs."