LAND O'LAKES — For the second straight game since returning from the holiday break, Jake Driscoll was absent from Mitchell's lineup with symptoms reminiscent of mononucleosis.
Driscoll, an early season MVP candidate on the North Suncoast, started feeling ill during the Mustangs' 13-point win over Sunlake on Dec. 22 and hasn't been able to practice regularly since. The Mustangs won't know how many games Driscoll will miss until a full diagnosis can be made.
Until his return, Mitchell will have to rely on other offensive options to replace Driscoll's 24 points a game, which is tops on the North Suncoast.
Friday against Land O'Lakes, Mitchell looked like a team still adjusting to life without Driscoll.
Fortunately for the Mustangs, Land O'Lakes had its own scoring problems.
Without much offense to rely on, Mitchell clamped down on Land O'Lakes, holding the Gators to 2-of-21 shooting and 12 points in the second half for a 37-32 road victory.
"It's not totally for sure (he has mono). We haven't gotten the blood work back yet," Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles said.
"At this point in time, we're not exactly sure where he's at."
Mitchell (9-4) shot almost as poorly as Land O'Lakes in the second half but was able to make plays down the stretch to stay in front.
The Mustangs took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter. But the Gators (8-6) cut the advantage to two with 1:41 to go after a technical foul on the Mustangs' Joey Powers led to two free throws and a Darrell Warren basket on the ensuing possession.
Land O'Lakes had a chance to tie or take the lead after getting the ball with 32 seconds left in the game, but Jackson Cannon's contested layup in the lane was too strong.
Mitchell's Cody Giambrone made 1 of 2 free throws on the other end to push the lead to three.
The Gators' Mike Morrow missed a good look at a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go, and Austin Sharpe made both free throws after grabbing the rebound to seal the win.
"This is a confidence-builder for those guys right now," St. Charles said.
"And when (Driscoll) comes back, it just makes us all the more better.
Sharpe went 9-of-13 from the free-throw line and led all scorers with 11 points. Mitchell's Jordan Dong, who had a team-high 19 points a day earlier in a rout of Central, scored nine.
Land O'Lakes, which made 9 of 50 field goals for the game, was paced by Warren's 10 points.
"When you don't make shots," Land O'Lakes coach David Puhalski said, "you're not going to beat anybody, no matter who you're playing."