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Pine Tree’s Abby Mitchell Signs with Panola College

Pine Tree’s Abby Mitchell signed Wednesday with Panola College. (Matthew Hogan Photography)

A season-ending knee injury early in her senior campaign will not stop Abby Mitchell from signing to play college basketball.

Pine Tree’s point guard signed with Panola College in Carthage during a Wednesday afternoon ceremony at PT’s Pirate Center.

“When I tore my ACL this year I felt as though years and years of preparation for my senior year had vanished in a single moment and there was not a thing I could do to convince any college that I was best for their program,” Mitchell told ETSN.fm. “I was blessed to have met (Panola) coach (Tracey) Stellato my senior year before I tore my ACL and I knew even before my injury that Panola was pulling at my heart and that is what God had planned for me all along.”

Mitchell was a first-team all-district selection as a junior, when she averaged 10 points, five assists, and four steals per game. She spent all four years of high school career on Pine Tree’s varsity squad, helping the Lady Pirates to a 24-8 record and the Class 4A Region II second round in 2012.

Pine Tree coach Robin Herber believes Mitchell’s savvy point guard play will translate well to the Region XIV Conference, which has a reputation as one of the nation’s toughest junior college basketball leagues.

“Abby understands the game and understands how it works. That is why she is so successful at getting the ball to the open girl or knowing where the ball will be so that she can steal or defend,” Herber said. “Besides Abby’s great passing ability, she also has an incredible work ethic as well as great leadership abilities.”

Playing in college has been a longtime dream for Mitchell.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to and that hard work pays off, so that is exactly what I expected my entire life,” Mitchell said. “I was introduced to basketball when I was 8 years old and have stuck with it ever since, but it wasn’t until my junior year I fully believed in my potential to advance to the next level. Coach Herber always pushed me to be my best throughout high school and I am extremely grateful for the time and effort she has put into my game as an individual. To know I will play basketball at the next level means more to me than I could ever describe and I will be sure to play with all of the passion and intensity that I could not play with my senior year of high school.”

Herber and sophomore post Sky Holmes led Pine Tree to the playoffs in 2013 despite Mitchell’s injury-caused absence. Pine Tree’s coach looks forward to seeing Mitchell return to the court, even if it’s for a different team.

“I am extremely proud of her. We have all known she would play at the next level since she was a seventh grader,” Herber said. “I will miss her terribly but I cannot wait to see her in a Panola Fillies uniform next year, either.”

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