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March 10, 2013Mitty knocked off Newark Memorial 63-51 in the opening round of the Open Division playoffs behind a huge second half on Saturday night.
Newark Memorial was in control early behind the stellar play of junior Joey Frenchwood, who had the first 14 points for the Cougars. The point guard knocked down his first four three-point attempts and a pair of free throws as Newark Memorial led 14-5. By the end of the first quarter, Newark was in control with a 18-7 lead.
The Monarchs cut into the lead in the second quarter, but still trailed 29-26. Frenchwood had another trey in the quarter as he was 5-for-5 from behind the arc. He led all scorers headed into the locker room with 17 points.
But it was a different Mitty team in the second half. The Monarchs opened with a 15-0 run and never looked back.
"We were in attack mode," Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy said of his squad. "Some of the rebounds we weren't going after like we did in the second half. Taking care of the ball was huge. When we take care of the ball, we're a better team, like any other team. Defensively, we were able to get the ball out of Frenchwood's hand, who was killing us in the first half. We slowed him down and then offensively we had better movement, better spacing, and we crashed the heck out of the boards."
Mitty had trouble in the first half controlling the tempo and had 15 turnovers. In the second half, junior guard Connor Peterson slowed the pace and played within his role. After a scoreless first half, Peterson finished with 10 points and five assists.
"Connor just kept it simple," Kennedy added. "He came to jump stops and was under control. I thought we did a much better job just taking care of the ball and being solid."
The Monarchs also did a better job containing Frenchwood in the second half. He only had a pair of free throws and was 0-for-4 from three-point range. Nevertheless, it was Frechwood who kept the Cougars in the game early and should be among the top returning seniors next season. He has been in contact with Portland, UC Santa Barbara, Utah State, and Weber State.
"We made sure we didn't give him any open looks," Kennedy said of controlling Frenchwood. "On pick-and-rolls we were able to blitz him and get the ball out of his hands. We were playing him out to NBA range because that's where he was hitting from. We gave him no space, that was the biggest thing. We even put Aaron [Gordon] on him for a little bit to have him see some length."
Chandler Rockwell was the only other Cougar in double figures with 10 points.
Then, of course, Aaron Gordon had another double-double for the Monarchs. He finished with 14 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists despite a scoreless first quarter. Davis Messer was the second leading scorer with 11 points.
Mitty will now play Modesto Christian in the semi-finals. Modesto Christian advanced after a 57-42 win over Bishop O'Dowd on Friday.
Regarding the upcoming game, Kennedy finished, "We have to take care of the ball and play our defense. If we take care of that, we'll be OK. Then we have to match up with their personnel."