FORT WAYNE – Senior Oosha Mitchell completed North Side’s turnaround with a turnaround game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer Saturday.
With the seconds ticking away, Tre’Vion Crews passed to Mitchell, who spun around and put up a shot from just beyond the arc as the buzzer sounded and the Redskins won the 2013 SAC championship with a 54-51 win over Snider at Wayne.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to get the shot off in time, but fortunately I did,” Mitchell said. “I said I would pop out, and I will hit it. I got the ball, and I just threw it up.”
The top-seeded Redskins (8-0) called a pair of timeouts with under 18 seconds left, and then got the ball in Crews’ hands. When the anticipated double-team happened, Crews got the ball to the 6-foot-5 Mitchell, who hit the shot to lift North Side to its first SAC tournament title since 2006.
“We were hoping Tre could turn the corner, and if they double, which we anticipated, we wanted Oosha to pop for a 3,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “Tre’s our best player, and Oosha had it going tonight, so we thought we would ride those two players and look at the results. They followed him all the way out and Tre found him, and the prayer was answered. Merry Christmas for Oosha.”
Mitchell led the Redskins with 21 points.
“He’s had a great tournament,” Khaliq said of Mitchell. “Ever since we went down and played Horizon Christian, he has been a different player. He has been aggressive on the glass and a lot more active. He’s able to hit his mid-range shot and stretch the defense. He has done a better job of knowing when to go down low, and when to step outside. That’s a big part of who he is.”
Crews added 17 points.
“I had a feeling they were going to double me but I wasn’t sure, and when they did, I looked for Oosha,” Crews said of the final play. “He told me before that he would knock it down, and it happened.”
The Redskins are the defending regular season conference champions, but hadn’t fared too well recently in the SAC tournament and with one shot, they seemed to exercise some of those demons.
“We are more mature now, and we know what Coach Baz expects from us,” Crews said. “We go out and play 110 percent every game.”
Second-seeded Snider (5-4) got 18 points from Trey’von Covington.
The Panthers led 29-25 at halftime and extended the margin to 42-34 with 1:18 left in the third. North Side outscored Snider 16-7 in the fourth.
“We just had to go back to being ourselves,” Mitchell said of the comeback. “In the first half, we didn’t play right.”
North Side went on a 9-2 run to open the fourth to tie the score at 47 and get back into it.
“It’s important for our guys to understand that no matter the situation we are in a good position because we have guys who can make plays,” Khaliq said. “Our guys just stepped up the intensity in the fourth quarter.”
Snider lost 68-46 to North Side on Dec. 13, but led almost the entire way for three-plus quarters.
“We knew Snider wasn’t going to lay down,” Khaliq said. “You have to give them credit. But we kept battling, missed some free throws and we kept playing hard and at the end we were able to hit a shot fortunately.”