Mitty won its West Catholic Athletic League opener with a thrilling 65-63 victory over league rival Bellarmine.
There were 11 lead changes and eight ties throughout the night and the game was tied at 59-59 with 1:17 left in the contest. After Mitty senior Brandon Abajelo knocked down a three-pointer on the following possession, the Monarchs were in control and never surrendered the lead. Bellarmine had a chance to win it or tie at the buzzer with four seconds left, but the Bells were unable to get a shot off.
"That's the way to start the season and set the tone," said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy. "It shows all the weaknesses we have and what we need to get better at. But to get a win when you don't play your best is always a good thing."
Mitty was once again led by senior Aaron Gordon. The five-star prospect had 28 points and 23 rebounds for the Monarchs, including 10 fourth quarter points. Gordon was able to score consistently from all over the floor despite being double and triple teamed throughout the night. He also used his length to grab rebounds and block shots on the defensive end. The one area where he can improve is at the free throw line as he was 6-of-13 from the line.
"It's a typical night for AG right there," Kennedy added. "You expect so much from him, he fills out the stat sheet, and he keeps performing night in and night out for us. He's starting to trust his teammates and once he starts to knock down those free throws it's going to be tough to stop him."
The only other double-digit scorer for the Monarchs was senior Brandon Farrell. The 6-foot-6 post had 17 points along with three rebounds. After an injury slowed him down early in the season, Farrell has provided another scoring option for the Monarchs.
For Bellarmine, Navy signee Grant Vermeer led the way. Vermeer again displayed his scoring ability, highlighted by a step-back three in the fourth quarter. He finished with 18 points and three rebounds.
Point guard Blair Mendy also had a solid performance for the Bells. He scored 11 points and affected the game on the defensive end with his lengthy frame.
The Bells lost their first game of the season, but still showed that they can compete in the tough WCAL. They drop to 10-1 and will go on the road to play Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday.
As for Mitty, it improves to 7-3 on the season. The Monarchs will face St. Ignatius at home on Friday.
"Overall, I thought we showed some mental toughness by closing out a tough game," said Kennedy. "I think it's going to help as the games we've gone through up in Oregon and the preseason got us ready for this league where it's going to be tough games night in and night out."
The Monarchs showed that they are still the WCAL favorites, but the road to a league title should be much tougher this season.