Strong first half not enough to push Bluejackets over Salem

Dawson Irwin (3) rises for a deep three against Salem

by Noah Dalton

Saturday’s matchup on the road against Salem High School was all too familiar a situation for Mitchell High School.

For the fourth time this season in six games, The Bluejackets entered halftime with a comfortable lead, before finding themselves fighting in a one possession game near the final buzzer.

Unfortunately for Mitchell, they were unable to hold the Lions off, ultimately falling to Salem 52-48, for their fifth loss of the season, the third after leading at halftime.

“We talked before the game, they’re a very streaky team and they had players that stepped up and hit big shots, made big plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” Bluejackets’ head coach Jackson Ryan said after the game.

“I thought we had our moments and we battled back back and forth. And that was good to see, but we’ve just got to grow up. And it needs to happen fast, obviously. It’s just tough. It’s a tough pill to swallow. You know, this is three very winnable games, games that we should have won that we let slip.”

Mitchell opened the game in a big way, getting out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter before allowing the Lions their first bucket of the game with 1:48 left in the period.

Leading by 11 at the end of the quarter, the Bluejackets continued to expand upon their lead in the second, outscoring Salem again in the second to take a 13 point lead into the locker room at halftime.

Brendan Tolliver (23) defends Salem’s Jaden Cheatwood (13)

After the first two quarters, the Lions had scored 17 points as a team, the problem for them was that so had Mitchell senior Dawson Irwin, who was on fire in the first half. Irwin finished the half with 17 points, shooting 5/6 from deep to account for most of his points.

Ryan felt like Irwin’s hot hand, as well as the team’s defensive play in the half displayed some of the team’s best attributes.

“Dawson Irwin, he hit some big shots in the first half. I thought our defense led to some really good looks offensively for us. And when we can get that going, that’s when we build these leads, that’s when we’re a tough team,” he said.

The third quarter is where things went haywire for the Bluejackets.

Salem exited the locker room ready to go, chipping away at Mitchell’s lead, as the Bluejackets were unable to score for the first three minutes of the quarter.

If you blinked, you would’ve missed the Lions’ 16-3 run in the period, that ultimately propelled them to their first lead of the game with a minute left in the third. Though Mitchell was able to regain the lead heading into the fourth, it was now a one point game and anybody’s to win with just eight minutes of play remaining.

Kale England (21) rises for a layup against Salem

The fourth quarter was a back and forth battle that included seven lead changes. Basket after basket, each side was able to match the other as they trading one point leads back and forth until just over four minutes remained in the period when Lions’ senior guard Justin Stephenson knocked down a triple to give his team a two point advantage.

A 1/2 trip to the free throw line from Jackson Brough extended their lead to three, before the game was all even with 3:30 left to play, thanks to a three from Bluejackets’ guard Austin Mosier.

Mosier had a big fourth quarter, scoring eight big points for his time down the stretch, including an and-one to give Mitchell their first lead since the start of the fourth with 2:22 left to play.

Both teams missed shots, leading to the Bluejackets having possession of the ball with a one-point lead with just over a minute left. With 43 seconds remaining, Mitchell turned the ball over, leading to a three from Lions’ guard Holden Collins on the other end, putting his team up by two.

The Bluejackets had a chance to regain the lead on their final possession but turned the ball over in the final seconds to conclude the game.

Ryan felt his team’s offense slowed in the second half, in-part because they did not have as much success generating good looks for shots against the defensive sets of Salem.

“It’s when we have an empty offensive possession, they come down, you know, they have a chance to score and when they do, then they can get back and set up their defense. And it’s those situations when they’re defensive set that we have to recognize that, you know, it’s got to be a great shot,” Ryan said.

“Especially when you start the second half there and the third quarter and have three, four empty possessions. We’ve got to do a better job of recognizing, ‘hey, we have to get a great look, we have to get something going to the rim,” he added.

Austin Mosier (2) dribbles up the court defended by Jaden Cheatwood (13)

After the team’s third consecutive loss this season, Ryan identified some key areas where he felt himself as the coach, as well as the players could improve to give themselves a better chance to win some of these close games.

“Handling pressure would be a big one. Offensively and defensively, just recognizing things in the flow of the game. You know, shooters, if someone has a shot, who’s their guy who’s getting it going and adjusting to that. We looked great in the half court in the in the first half and then somebody for them gets going and we don’t adjust and I’ll take the take the blame for that, we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing that and adjusting. But just a lot to clean up,” he said.

As difficult as a loss like this may be, Ryan said his team as shown dedication and worked hard all season and will need to keep that going.

“It’s tough. At the end of the day, they’re great kids, they want to get better, they want to do right, it’s just about keeping your head up and coming in every day and getting better,” said Ryan.

“These these losses are tough to take, but as long as we’re coming in, day in and day out and working hard and we’re coachable. You know, bottom line, that’s all I can ask for. It’s tough that all the work that these kids are putting in isn’t turning into Ws. But, we’ve got to keep chipping away and coming in every day and working hard and hopefully by the end of the season, we can figure it out and pull these out,” he continued.

Mitchell’s overall record in the season is now 1-5, with a 1-1 record in PLAC play. Their next game will be on the road in Bicknell, where they will travel to take on North Knox (0-5) on Friday, set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.



  • Aiden Pridemore – 0 points, 0/3 shooting, 0/0 FT, 0 rebounds
  • Austin Mosier – 12 points, 4/11 shooting, 3/3 FT, 2 rebounds
  • Dawson Irwin – 17 points, 6/9 shooting, 0/0 FT, 3 rebounds
  • Ben Seitzinger – 5 points, 2/4 shooting, 1/2 FT, 4 rebounds
  • Bryson Shoults – 0 points, 0/1 shooting, 0/0 FT, 0 rebounds
  • Kale England – 4 points, 2/6 shooting, 0/0 FT, 6 rebounds
  • Brendan Tolliver – 10 points, 4/9 shooting, 1/2 FT, 7 rebounds


  • Justin Stephenson – 9 points, 4/6 shooting, 0/1 FT, 7 rebounds
  • Hayden Baughman – 15 points, 6/13 shooting, 2/3 FT, 5 rebounds
  • Jaden Cheatwood – 10 points, 3/6 shooting, 3/3 FT, 4 rebounds
  • Jackson Brough – 7 points, 3/3 shooting, 1/2 FT, 1 rebound
  • Kaleb Trucker – 1 point, 0/2 shooting, 1/2 FT, 3 rebounds
  • Noah Risen – 0 points, 0/1 shooting, 0/0 FT, 0 rebounds
  • Les Bowles – 7 points, 3/6 shooting, 0/0 FT, 0 rebounds
  • Holden Collins – 3 points, 1/3 shooting, 0/0 FT, 2 rebounds

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