One brother watched from the bench, healing up from injury.
His twin struggled from time to time, collecting fouls instead of rebounds and points. When Makhel Mitchell racked up the PFs (personal fouls) in the semifinal round and the tough Lions of Fairfax nearly rallied from a 20-point deficit. Montverde, the nation’s No. 1 team — or No. 2, depending on the poll — emerged stronger.
Mitchell heard the words of his brother, Makhi: “Run the floor. Dominate inside.”
Makhel Mitchell also knew he had to stay on the floor.
“I just tried not to block every shot because I know I’m not a shot blocker. I just tried to move my feet,” said Mitchell, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds to help Montverde take the ‘Iolani Classic championship with a 71-43 victory over Jefferson (Ore.) on Wednesday night.
He was just one major weapon on a squad filled to the gills with future college and NBA talent.
Mitchell didn’t make the all-tourney team, but on championship night, he was relentless, teaming with Filip Petrusev to overpower the Democrats in the key. Petrusev, at 6-10, was a floor spacer as a stretch 4, or 5, and Jefferson’s man-to-man defense was often unable to stop the two of them in the paint, let alone the high-flying RJ Barrett and their tall guards. At 6-4, guards Michael Devoe and Andrew Nembhard were dominant on both ends.
Both drove past Jefferson’s normally lockdown-defensive guards, using spin moves to create space for buckets. They both also blanketed the Demos’ shooters. Jefferson shot 29 percent from the field, including 1-for-16 from the 3-point arc.
A lot of that comes right from the top, where coach Kevin Boyle never takes a break. From the sideline, he is in verbal machine-gun mode, calling out opposing shooters for his defenders to cover, reminding them of every possible nuance that makes the Eagles defense dominate. Jefferson averaged nearly 80 points per game in the Classic until Montverde crossed its path.
“He doesn’t play around, for sure. It really took me to the end of (sophomore) year getting used to a different type of system,” Barrett said of his coach. “Coach wants us to play great defense.”
Kamaka Hepa of Jefferson, most outstanding player
RJ Barrett of Montverde, most valuable player
Filip Petrusev, Michael Devoe, Andrew Nembhard of Montverde
Marcus Tsohonis, Jalen Brown of Jefferson
Isiah Gelacio, Maryknoll
Kihei Clark, Makani Whiteside of Taft Charter
Trevante Anderson, Rainier Beach
Will Dillard, John Newman of Greensboro Day
Kobe Young, Kamehameha
Kawika Lee, ‘Iolani
Ethan Anderson, Jamal Hartwell of Fairfax
Elijah Hardy, Naseem Gaskin of Bishop O’Dowd