SARASOTA -- Ryan McMahon showed why Louisville head coach Rick Pitino sees him as a point guard, and Mitch Arimura showed a packed house at Cardinal Mooney what they've been missing.
Their efforts were good enough to spark the host Cougars to a 64-61 triumph over Clearwater Calvary Christian on Tuesday night in Class 3A-Region 3 boys basketball semifinal.
The victory propels the Cougars (25-3) into the region final Friday night at Naples First Baptist.
Arimura scored a career-high 21 points and pulled in eight rebounds. McMahon hit for 22 points and dished out six assists that knifed their way through the teeth of the Calvary defense and enabled the Cougars to score much-needed points down the stretch.
On a night when he was getting double- and triple-teamed, McMahon showed he can break up a defense with his penetration and passing.
After struggling from the free-throw line the previous game, the 6-foot-4 Arimura dropped in 7 of 9 from the charity stripe and converted four straight in the last two minutes of the game.
"We had two days to get some good work in, and I shot about 150 free throws each day and stayed after practice," Arimura said. "Last week, I was finishing my layups and when I do that, they have faith in me and kept passing me the ball."
Mooney looked to be coming unraveled when it was hit with a technical foul in the fourth quarter. Calvary used it to take 54-47 lead and led 56-51 with 2 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the game.
McMahon dished off
to Blair Perry for a layup, Arimura converted two free throws, and McMahon hit a medium-range jumper to give the Cougars a 57-56 lead with 1:25 remaining.
The teams then traded the lead four times. Two free throws by Arimura pushed Mooney ahead 59-58. Calvary Christian (20-10) responded with a baseline drive by Danny Neugebauer, but then McMahon did what he does best, burying a shot from deep behind the arc to put the Cougars ahead 62-60 with 39 seconds left.
Calvary hit a free throw to close to within 62-61 with 27.8 seconds on the clock.
The second foul shot missed, and Arimura got the rebound. Perry was fouled and dropped in two straight free throws for a 64-61 lead with 14.7 seconds left. Calvary had an open look at a trey from the corner but missed, and Arimura got the rebound.
"They started double-teaming on the pick and roll, and all we had to do is roll to the basket. I was making routine passes and my teammates finished," McMahon said. "Basically the coaches put the ball in my hands. Mitch lived up to his name tonight. He is 'Mitch Do Work,'" McMahon said.
The Cougars converted their last six free throws of the game and were 15-of-22 for the game. McMahon was 7-of-13 from the field, 5-of-8 on treys and had six assists and six rebounds. Justin Najmy had 12 points and three steals, and Perry contributed nine points and three rebounds.
Mooney shot 21-of-40 from the field and 7-of-17 on treys with 22 rebounds (four offensive). Calvary shot 18-of-46 (5-of-25 treys) and 20-of-29 from the free-throw line with 24 rebounds (nine offensive).