By Noah Dalton
Mitchell High School made the trip to Elnora on Saturday morning to participate in this year’s North Daviess Girls Basketball Invitational, a four team tournament where they competed against North Daviess, Rock Creek Academy and Clay City.
After a strong showing in their first matchup against Clay City, where the Bluejackets cruised past the Eels, they were defeated in a close finals matchup by Rock Creek, leaving them with a second place finish.
Despite not leaving the event with some new hardware to add to the school’s trophy case, Mitchell head coach Tim Haworth was proud of the performance of his team, who he felt played some of their best ball of the season on the day.
“These kids I thought showed a lot of character,” Haworth said. “Very proud of their effort. That’s why I tell him absolutely nothing to hang our head about. So we were proud of that, of that effort.”
In their opening matchup against Clay City, the Bluejackets jumped out to an early lead in the game and were able to maintain it throughout the entire game, eventually winning 39-26.
The biggest key to Mitchell’s victory in the game was their defense and their ability to force turnovers, ripping the ball away from the Eels offense 24 times over the course of the game, 13 of which were in the second half where the defense held Clay City to just 10 points over 12 minutes of play.
With the Eels coming off a dominant 19-point victory over Riverton Parke on Thursday night, they were bringing a good amount of momentum into the matchup, particularly in comparison to the Bluejackets, who were defeated on Tuesday by Brown County and had their Thursday evening matchup against West Washington cancelled.
“They had a little momentum coming their way after they got a win Thursday night. Of course, we didn’t get to play because our game got canceled and moved,” Haworth said. “So hopefully, again, seems like some hard knocks for us, but these girls are resilient and I love the way they bounced back today. I’m very, very proud of our ballclub,” he continued.
As that game was going on, Rock Creek took on North Daviess in a separate gym at the schoo, where the Lions were victorious 39-36, setting up the final.
After a 30-minute intermission between games, Mitchell took the floor against Rock Creek and tipped off with the gold on the line.
The Bluejackets got out to an early advantage, outscoring the Lions 14-11 in the first quarter behind a big start from guard Mylea Slone, who scored eight in the period, including two triples.
Mitchell grew their lead in the second quarter to five, heading into the half up 24-19. Malaya Tanglao shouldered the bulk of the Bluejackets’ offense in the period, scoring 7 of their 10 points, the other three coming from another Slone three-pointer.
Mitchell was able make numerous plays on defense in the first half causing issues for Rock Creek that led to 11 turnovers. Haworth felt that his team’s defensive performance in the first half against the Lions was some of the best play he has seen from them all season on that side of the ball.
“I thought that first half might have been our best first half defensively all year, against a very athletic team,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Bluejackets, Rock Creek’s offense hit their stride at the perfect time, scoring 18 points in a huge third quarter explosion. After six consecutive quarters of some of their best play on the year, Mitchell now found themselves trailing 37-30 heading into the final quarter after scoring just six in the third.
The Bluejackets were able to make their way back in to the game late in the fourth quarter, eventually reducing the Lions’ lead to just one point with around three minutes left. A Rock Creek bucket with just under a minute left would extend their lead to three, which was ultimately the final margin of the game, with Mitchell going down 45-42 at the final buzzer.
Though they lost in the end, Haworth felt his team played their best two games of the season on Saturday.
“I thought, considering our situation, I thought that back back to back, these were our best two ball games. Even though we got beat that second one, against a very athletic team, we gave ourselves an opportunity to win a ball game. The start of that third quarter was definitely not how we wanted to start a quarter, but again our kids sucked it up,” he said.
“After a timeout, we were down seven and we came back and made it a one possession game from there on out. So, I think that showed a lot of character and what kind of growth we’ve had this year,” Haworth added.
After these games, the Bluejackets are now 3-7 on the season, with their overall Patoka Lake Athletic Conference Record remaining at 1-1. Their next matchup is schedlued for Tuesday, when they are set to take on Eastern (5-3), who are coming off a 1-point loss to Brownstown Central on Saturday.
Tournament stats (both games combined)
- Mylea Slone – 24 points, 8/19 shooting, 6/9 FT, 6 rebounds
- Jillian Bond – 17 points, 5/19 shooting, 7/9 FT, 17 rebounds
- Brooklyn Peterson – 19 points, 7/22 shooting, 5/11 FT, 12 rebounds
- Malaya Tanglao – 12 points, 4/12 shooting, 3/4 FT, 1 rebound
- Briley Dicks – 6 points, 3/4 shooting, 0/0 FT, 5 rebounds
- Taylor Lee – 2 points, 1/2 shooting, 0/0 FT, 3 rebounds
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