By Noah Dalton
Coming off a close win at The Hive against Crawford County on Friday night, Mitchell High School played the second half of their back-to-back scheduled games on the weekend on Saturday night, this time on the road against Eastern Greene.
The Bluejackets were in a tough spot against the Wolfpack on Friday, leading the game by double digits at halftime before Crawford County made a second-half rally to bring within one possession by the final buzzer.
Against the Thunderbirds on Saturday, Mitchell was in an eerily similar position; going into the half leading 24-16 before Eastern Greene came roaring back in the second half and forcing the lead down within one possession by the game’s finale.
This time, the Bluejackets were the ones looking for an outcome altering last-second shot that they ultimately unable to find, losing in the end 46-44.
Of the four games Mitchell has played so far this year, Saturday’s was the third where the Bluejackets carried a lead into halftime of eight points or more before finding themselves in a game contested down to the final possession by the end.
“It’s very frustrating,” Mitchell head coach Jackson Ryan said after the game. “You know, this is great experience for us. Of the four games that we’ve played, three of them have come down to the wire. Unfortunately, we came up short on two of those and we’ve just got to got to execute better. We’ve got to want the ball in late game situations. Just, our execution down the stretch, not good. Just some things that we need to kind of sure up,” he continued.
In the first quarter against the Thunderbirds, the Bluejackets shot out to an early lead thanks to an efficient 5/8 shooting performance from the field, including two made triples, one each from Dawson Irwin and Ben Seitzinger. Defensively, they were able to contain Eastern Greene, holding them to just 4/12 shooting in the period, as the quarter ended with a score of 14-9.
In the second, the Thunderbirds one again fired 33% from the floor, this time only being able to get up 9 attempts. The efficiency for Mitchell steeply declined, but it did not matter as shot 26% in the quarter but still managed to outscore Eastern Greene by three, bringing their lead to eight at the half.
After struggling in the second quarter, the Bluejackets returned to the strong shooting form they brought to open the game, shooting 6/9 from the floor in the third and scoring their highest per-quarter point total of the game thus far with 15 in the period.
As nice as that was though, it was somewhat cancelled out by the fact that the Thunderbirds matched them every step of the way, also netting 15 points in the quarter on their most productive shooting of the night to that point, connecting on six of their 12 total attempts.
Eastern Greene was able to carry that momentum into the final period of the game, scoring 14 in the fourth including a big quarter from sophomore guard Will Inman, who accounted for 11 of those points himself to close out the game.
At Mitchell struggled from the field in the fourth, only converting on one field goal attempt, the Thunderbirds were able to soar into a two-point lead with just over one minute left in the game thanks to a three from Inman.
The Bluejackets had a few attempts at threes to either take the lead or tie the game in the final minute, but were unable to knock any of them down, ultimately falling in the end.
Ryan felt Eastern Greene’s effort on hustle plays helped swing the game in their favor.
“Probably the most frustrating thing right now. Number one, I felt like Eastern Greene played harder than we did on the 50/50 balls, whether it was in the air, on the ground, they came up with it. I thought those plays really changed the momentum of this basketball game, for sure,” he said.
For Mitchell to avoid another late game scramble like they have found themselves in to close their last two games, Ryan feels his team will need to improve their crunch time execution and continue to stick together in tense moments.
“The other thing is just our execution. When it’s tough and the other teams on a run and you’re on the road, you’ve got to have guys that step up, want the ball and can execute. And unfortunately, right now, we don’t have that,” said Ryan.
“So, we’ve got a lot of growing up to do and we have to do it quick. But bottom line, we’ve got to stay together. And that’s probably the second most frustrating thing is, when it’s tough, we kind of crumbled. We started barking at each other a little bit and we’ve just got to stay together. And that’s that’s how we play, that’s Mitchell basketball and we didn’t do that tonight,” he added.
Despite a tough start to their season, Ryan believes in his team and their ability to build upon the strong aspects of their play that have allowed them to generate leads consistently so far this year.
“I wouldn’t trade these kids for anybody else. So the problems that we’re facing, the answers are in that locker room. We just have to play together,” said Ryan.
With this loss, the Bluejackets’ record has fallen to 1-3 on the year. They will next take the court on Friday, when they will welcome undefeated Linton-Stockton (3-0), who was ranked No.16 in the Dec. 4 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll.
- Brendan Tolliver – 4 points, 1/7 shooting, 2/2 FT, 5 rebounds
- Kale England – 3 points, 1/2 shooting, 1/3 FT, 4 rebounds
- Ben Seitzinger – 16 points, 6/9 shooting, 3/4 FT, 3 rebounds
- Dawson Irwin – 9 points, 3/8 shooting, 1/2 FT, 7 rebounds
- Austin Mosier – 3 points, 1/3 shooting, 1/3 FT, 1 rebound
- Gavin Robinson – 4 points, 2/4 shooting, 0/0 FT, 3 rebounds
- Aiden Pridemore – 0 points, 0/3 shooting, 0/0 FT, 1 rebound
- Bryson Shoults – 5 points, 2/3 shooting, 0/0 FT 1 rebound
- Will Inman – 12 points, 4/15 shooting, 2/4 FT, 2 rebounds
- Nate Myers – 9 points, 4/5 shooting, 0/0 FT, 2 rebounds
- Ty McKnight – 0 points, 0/1 shooting, 0/0 FT, 1 rebound
- Roman Valentine – 0 points, 0/1 shooting, 0/1 FT, 1 rebound
- Jack Rees – 0 points, 0/2 shooting, 0/2 FT, 3 rebounds
- Brayden Campbell – 13 points, 5/7 shooting, 0/0 FT, 3 rebounds
- Peyton Lewis – 12 points, 6/12 shooting, 0/0 FT, 5 rebounds
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