Colby Mitchell puts up 19 points in the second half, as Mt. Hood pulls away

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Mt. Hood CC guard Brock Otis protects the ball from a Portland defender on his way to the basket during Wednesdays 13-point win over the Panthers.

The Mt. Hood Community College men’s basketball team notched its first South Region win of the season by holding off Portland CC 78-65 on Wednesday.

After Portland scored the opening basket of the contest, Mt. Hood’s Colby Mitchell made a layup and a baby-hook to put the Saints in front, and they led for the rest of the night.

In fact, it was never really close as they held at least a five-point lead for most of the first half, and they had at least a seven-point advantage for the entire second half.

“We had been struggling a little bit, so it was good to get a win like this under our belt,” Mt. Hood coach Geoff Gibor said. “We were able to keep a good cushion because we got a lot of layups and easy baskets. Anytime you do that, you’ll be in good shape.”

Mt. Hood’s offense ran smoothly, but the Saints won the game with defense. After that first Portland basket, Mt. Hood completely disrupted everything the Panthers were trying to do. Portland made countless attempts to get close-range shots in the paint, but it got no easy buckets — any Panther, who got within five feet of the hoop was immediately greeted by two or three long-armed Saints.

Portland’s only chance to break the Mt. Hood zone was to hit deep shots, and even those attempts were heavily contested. The Panthers shot just 2-for-20 (.100) from 3-point range with both makes coming within inches of being tipped at the point of release. The Saints held Portland to less than 30 percent from the field.

“We are getting a lot better in our defensive rotations,” Mitchell said. “When one guy goes out, we are staying positive and the next guy is able to pick it right back up defensively.”

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Thomas Simien drives to the basket during the Saints win over Portland CC last week.

When it became evident that the Panthers’ weren’t going to cut into the lead, they tried their luck at the free-throw line.

Because Mt. Hood was playing so aggressively on defense, it did commit a number of fouls. Portland tried to take advantage of that and got in the bonus with 12 minutes left in the game. The Panthers attempted 25 free throws in the second half. However, they couldn’t consistently knock down those foul shots and Mt. Hood maintained a comfortable lead to the finish.

With the Mt. Hood defense keeping Portland in check, Colby Mitchell went to work. The sophomore forward from Alaska had a modest four points at halftime, but he exploded for 19 in the second half to finish with 23 points. Mitchell was efficient in everything he did offensively as he went 9-for-13 (.692) from the field.

Mitchell’s success didn’t begin and end with scoring. He did a bit of everything. To go along with his 23 points, he posted 12 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.

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