Mitch Ganote won’t hide his disappointment with the Lambert boys basketball team’s 2018-19 season. The Longhorns lost in the semifinals of the region tournament and then broke their streak of consecutive state playoff wins, losing to Newton in the first round.
But that doesn’t quite overshadow the individual brilliance that Ganote again showed this past season, packing the state sheet as usual and pulling off some of the most memorable plays of his career to earn All-County Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight time.
“I thought I did a good job of every day coming out and doing the best that I could to help my team win,” Ganote said.
That much is undebatable. Ganote came as close as anyone in the county to averaging a triple-double – he had three during the season – with 19 points, seven rebounds, eight assists per game. His unmistakable combination of aggressiveness, quickness and innate positioning was on display in the vast majority of games.
Getting to know...
Favorite social media platform: Twitter
Favorite non-social media app: Spotify
Typical breakfast: Pop-Tarts
Main sport of choice, if not basketball: Football
Favorite school subject: Math
Go-to Netflix show: Breaking Bad
But what made this season a bit different for Ganote was that none of that was news to anyone. He was much more of an unknown quantity heading into his junior season, whereas this year, his accolades and standout performances made him a target.
“I think last year, more or less, I showed myself as a force in the state of Georgia,” Ganote said. “And then this year, everybody expected more from me, other teams especially … I felt like a couple games I didn’t play great, (and) the pressure got to me, but for the most part, I thought I did a good job with it.”
He certainly had a few unforgettable showings. In the Longhorns’ overtime win over Peachtree Ridge during the non-region slate, Ganote sent the game past regulation by missing a free throw, pulling down his own rebound, and then putting a layup back up and in. And what Ganote called his favorite memory from high school basketball came towards the end of the Longhorns’ 71-66 overtime win over Milton, when he hit a three-pointer off the dribble to tie the game late in regulation, sending the close-to-packed gym into a frenzy.
“It was such a hyped-up game,” Ganote said.
Ganote’s college recruitment was subject to much local interest, but it recently reached an end when he committed to Southwest Baptist, a Division II school in Bolivar, Missouri. Ganote had drawn interest from Division I schools and had done plenty of research there himself, at times holding out on offers from lower-level schools while waiting for the big one.
But he eventually realized that doing so wasn’t necessarily the best move for his future. Division I was more of an expectation from outsiders than one from Ganote himself, and he had a strong offer from Southwest Baptist and a good relationship with the Bearcats’ coaching staff. And the school will give Ganote an opportunity for what he wants to do the most: play basketball.
“At the end of the day, I want to go to a place where I’m wanted and I think I can play, where I think I can contribute right out of high school,” Ganote said.