All year, fans have been asking Ted Mitchell to dunk it. On Tuesday, the senior gave the fans what they wantedâ€”and more. He dunked the ball twice in his last regular-season home game at Wildcat Arena.
It was a dramatic finish in a high school career that included trips last year to the state championship game in basketball and the state quarterfinal game in football. The Wildcats’ basketball team finished first in District 3-AAA this year and will advance to the playoffs.
Mitchell, who has plans to play football in college, was the only senior to play for the Wildcats on either the boys’ or girls’ team at home on Senior Night against the Gibbs Eagles on Tuesday.
Here’s more on those games from freelance contributor Trenton Duffer:
Oak Ridge celebrates Senior Night with two victories over Gibbs
Tuesday night, the Oak Ridge Wildcats and Lady Wildcats celebrated Senior Night in the home finale at Wildcat Arena. However, only one senior would be playing his last game in the arena: Ted Mitchell. In some ways, it seemed like â€œTed Mitchell Night,â€ as both sets of Wildcats rolled to easy victories over the Gibbs Eagles and Lady Eagles. Neither set of Eagles had the lead the entire night.
Lady Wildcats Stomp Lady Eagles
The Lady Wildcats (17-9, 12-3 District 3-AAA) were the first up to play, and they did not disappoint. The Lady Wildcats would go on to crush the Gibbs Lady Eagles (6-18, 5-10) by a score of 65-29. A one-two punch of offense and defense helped the Lady Wildcats walk away with this victory unscathed.
The first quarter was actually very close. Within the first 1:30, Oak Ridge jumped out to an 11-2 lead before the Lady Eagles came storming back, making it 18-14 after one quarter.
However, from the second quarter one, it was all Lady Wildcats. Oak Ridge doubled their first-quarter points in the second quarter, while Gibbs only put up eight points in the second quarter. After the first half, it was 36-22.
The second half is where the Lady Wildcatsâ€™ defense shined the brightest. Throughout the entire second half, Gibbs only scored seven points. The Lady Wildcats allowed only three attempts from the field to fall. In fact, Gibbs scored a meager two points in the third quarter, and it was 55-24.
The fourth quarter wasnâ€™t any better for the Lady Eagles, as they scored only five points. The final was 65-29 Oak Ridge, and the Lady Wildcats went on to have one of their largest wins of the season.
â€œWe addressed that (our defensive effort) at halftime,â€ head coach David Scott said. â€œWe were in the right place, but we werenâ€™t pressuring the ball.â€
Mykia Dowdell was surprisingly the only Lady Wildcat in double figures last night. Dowdell scored 15 points. Courtney Ellison had nine, Jasmine Hembry and Caelyn Thompson had 8, and Princess Bates had seven.
Only four players from Gibbs registered any points last night, and 21 of the teamâ€™s 29 total points came from Haley Cavalaris. Cavalaris knocked down two threes in this game and had 14 points after the first half.
The Lady Wildcats next game will be at Karns High School this Friday at 6 p.m.
Ted Mitchell honored as Wildcats handle Eagles
Before the game, senior Ted Mitchell was honored as the only senior to be playing his or her last game in Wildcat Arena.
The Eagles gave the Wildcats headaches throughout the game, as it seemed that Gibbs simply would not go away. However, Oak Ridge went on to win this game 82-66 and finish the season undefeated at home.
Oak Ridge (23-2, 15-0) came out the first quarter on fire, going up 19-7 after the first eight minutes, and it looked as if the Wildcats were going to walk away with an easy victory.
But the Eagles (11-14, 7-8) had other plans. After the Wildcats jumped out to a 25-7 lead, the Eagles relied on multiple three-pointers to edge closer and closer to the Wildcats. The score after the first half was 35-28 Oak Ridge, and Gibbs was hungry to complete the comeback.
At halftime, it was announced that Autism Awareness Night last Friday was a huge success. Hoops for Autism presented Lady Wildcats coach David Scott with a check for $1,157.56 for his son. The Lady Wildcats team also signed an Autism Awareness basketball and gave it to their coach.
â€œThe best part of it is that itâ€™s going to Linden School to Nancy Anderson. She does speech therapy, and itâ€™ll go to directly help Daniel and other kidsâ€¦Even after Daniel leaves, sheâ€™ll be able to use some of those things and help kids,â€ Scott said.
The Wildcats came out in the second half and started a dunk fest. Javien Johnson started off the fun with a jam in the third. Then, Ted Mitchell broke away for a two-handed slam that got the crowd on its feet in the third, and the Wildcats had a 65-46 lead.
Mitchell would go on to have yet another dunk in the fourth quarter, this time slamming it home with one hand. The student section went crazy after Mitchell dunked it the second time, as the senior has not dunked it at all this season. The Wildcats went on to win the game 82-66.
â€œEverybody has been telling me all year to dunk it, and it was my last game in here this year, so I had to try something,â€ Mitchell said after the game. â€œLuckily, I got me two of em.â€
Head coach Aaron Green says his team canâ€™t relax now, even though they have first place in district wrapped up.
â€œWe focus on the process and not the end result,â€ Green said. â€œThereâ€™s an expectation for us to play a certain way every second that clock ticksâ€¦You gotta play to a standard.â€
Javien Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points. Geevanty Gee had 15 points, and Tee Higgins had 11. Anthony Gibson and Darel Middleton both contributed with 10 points each.
In his last game at Wildcat Arena, Ted Mitchell had nine points, including two stellar dunks in the second half.
Mitchell talked after the game how it felt to play his last game in Wildcat Arena.
â€œIâ€™m going to college for football, so, after this year, I wonâ€™t be playing basketball anymore,â€ Mitchell said. â€œBut, wow, it felt good tonight.â€
After he graduates from Oak Ridge, Mitchell has agreed to play football for Carson-Newman University.
Meanwhile, Gibbs shot the lights out from beyond the arc. The Eagles hit 13 three-pointers in this game alone. Five of those threes came from Tyler Mullins, who had 21 for the Eagles.
The Wildcats next game will be at Karns High School this Friday immediately following the Lady Wildcatsâ€™ game, which begins at 6 p.m.
Trenton Duffer is a sports writer at the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon and a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.
Mitchell and Oak Ridge High School cheerleaders were recognized on Senior Night. Here are two pictures by Luther Simmons.
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