WESLEY CHAPEL — Planted on the perimeter, Wesley Chapel's freshman guard took the ball and fired.
Christian Parra didn't hesitate taking — and sinking — the biggest 3-pointer of his career with 13 seconds left Tuesday for a two-point lead.
Ultimately, it proved the difference in a 73-69 win against district rival Mitchell.
Afterward, coach Doug Greseth — the often fiery, unforgiving tower of muscle — gave his young guard a bear hug.
"It's the first time he hugged me like that," Parra said. "It meant a lot. He said, 'Perfect time. We needed the 3 right there.' "
The loss was crushing for a Mitchell team held in the locker room long after fans had cleared the gymnasium. The Mustangs (10-7, 6-3 in 4A-7) were coming off an emotional 63-61 loss to Class 4A, District 7 leader Ridgewood last week. Now, they face a critical matchup Friday with Hudson to maintain the No. 2 seed.
Mitchell first-year coach Jared St. Charles cautioned of a potential upset before Tuesday's game.
"You almost beat Ridgewood and people start to think maybe you don't need to play as hard against these other teams," St. Charles said. "… I warned them it could be upset city."
Mitchell got its boost from Jake Driscoll, who led all scorers with 23 points. In one second-quarter stretch, he outscored the Wildcats 13-3 for a 29-24 lead before Greseth called timeout.
Despite the barrage, Wesley Chapel exited for halftime with a 30-29 lead.
The Wildcats led by as many as six in the third quarter when freshman Sam Henninger scored to make it 48-42. Mitchell played nip-tuck with the Wildcats the final four minutes.
Wesley Chapel (10-7, 4-3) stayed strong thanks to sharp free-throw shooting — 16-for-18 for the game — making all 14 attempts in the final three quarters.
That took Parra, who led the Wildcats with 20, to his crowning moment after scoring seven of Wesley Chapel's 21 in the fourth.
"I've got a lot of young kids and they're just really starting to mature," Greseth said. "They did a good job. We're kind of inconsistent, but tonight was a really good effort."
Izzy Gould can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 421-3886.