TRINITY — For a while in Tuesday night’s matchup between Mitchell and Hudson, it seemed like the Jake Driscoll-Jamal Branco show.
The guards know each other well from playing together in AAU basketball during the summer and are friends off the court. Both battled almost basket-for-basket, assist-for-assist in the second half, with Driscoll ending up the upper hand. The junior went off for a season-high 35 points, including the go-ahead basket in Mitchell’s thrilling 67-64 win over Hudson.
“I think the win is important because it shows we can be the dominant team in Pasco County,” Driscoll said. “(Branco) and I have known each other for a long time now, and every time we play each other it’s very competitive. I’ll text him later about the game.”
They might be texting about the second half, which included six lead changes and some unexpected clutch free-throw shooting from Mitchell guard Jordan Dong (10 points). He made four crucial foul shots in the final 1:05 to help lift the Mustangs (5-3) past Class 4A-7 leader Hudson.
Hudson (6-3) held a 64-61 lead with 1:42 remaining after Driscoll missed two putbacks, but less than a minute later Branco (23 points) fouled out with 1:11 left.
That set the stage for Driscoll, as the junior knocked home the go-ahead baseline jumper with 37.5 seconds remaining. The Cobras’ next attempted shot rimmed out, and Mitchell escaped with an important victory.
“We had a rough start to the season,” Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles said. “But we’re starting to get our chemistry together, making plays, and I couldn’t be prouder. Fortunately for us Branco fouled out and we made our free throws down the stretch.
“Hopefully we can use this win as a springboard and keep us going.”