The packed Shakopee student section yelled and chanted throughout the Class 4A, Section 2 boys' basketball final, but one student held up a simple sign with three capitalized, red letters.
Junior forward Steffon Mitchell obliged, feasting with nearly half of Shakopee's point total in the 59-51 victory over Chaska on Friday at Apple Valley. The Sabers advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive year, this time with three seniors receiving significant minutes and a smaller lineup.
"It's just a crowning achievement of another hard working season by the kids, and I'm really happy for them," Shakopee head coach Bruce Kugath said.
Mitchell had a game-high 28 points, making an impact on both ends of the floor. He accounted for eight of Shakopee's points during an 11-2 stretch at the end of the first half. It gave the Sabers a 35-27 lead at halftime. Until that point, it was a tight game, with seven lead changes and a fast tempo.
The Sabers slowed the tempo in the second half, penetrating inside with their guards while trying to feed Mitchell in the paint. Chaska attempted to make Mitchell a nonfactor, but instead it was Mitchell who shut down Chaska sophomore guard Myles Hanson, who scored two of his 10 points in the second half. Hanson was aggressive until he picked up two quick fouls in the first half.
"I kind of got Myles in foul trouble, and he couldn't be as aggressive and press me," Mitchell said. "So I decided to beat him with the outside jumper and drive by him. I've played against him a lot and practiced against him [in the past]. I know his moves, he knows my moves. I just executed more today."
Senior guard Jacob Hansen led Chaska with 20 points.