By Noah Dalton
Mitchell High School played their last regular season game of the year on Thursday, a Patoka Lake Athletic Conference matchup just down the road in Orleans.
The past month or so has seen some fairly high points for the Bluejackets, such as their Senior Night win on Jan. 23 against conference opponent West Washington, as well as some disappointing moments, like losing four close games over that span, all by a margin of four points.
Thursday night’s game against the Bulldogs was yet another game played until the final buzzer, with Orleans’ Callie Alston connecting on a shot inside to give her team a two-point lead with 4.3 seconds to go.
Mitchell had one final opportunity, inbounding the ball to senior Mylea Slone, who dribbled up the floor as the clock ticked down. She was met just inside the arc by two Bulldogs’ defenders, who contested her midrange shot attempt that did not fall as time expired. Despite some contact on the play, no foul was called and the game ended 46-44 in favor of Orleans.
Bluejackets’ head coach Tim Haworth felt that his team executed well at times throughout the game, obtaining good looks even down to the final play, but ultimately left too many points at the free-throw line, missing nine of 16 total attempts in the game to come out on top against a rival team.
“It comes down to missed free throws and some opportunities once again. But, we also executed, got some good looks at the basket. That last play for example worked to perfection, a lot of contact but apparently the referees thought not enough,” said Haworth. “But, the bottom line is it’s 32-minute game, so what happens from the very tip off to the end, everything comes into play. And we had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. It was just a hard fought game rival game that we know that no matter what the records are, everybody’s gonna play hard.”
After a strong start from Mitchell, who jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the game, Orleans began to put points on the board, nearly evening the score in those final three minutes to end the first down by only one, 12-11.
From there, it was back-and-forth all game with nine lead changes and eight ties throughout.
The largest lead achieved by either team was six points, the margin the Bluejackets got ahead by to start and the lead for Orleans near the end of the third.
Mitchell began the third quarter down by three but were able to tie things up with six minutes left to play, thanks to two quick layups from Zoey Smith. Orleans took the lead again 30 seconds later after a basket from Emily DeWitt but the Bluejackets answered shortly after with a three from Briley Dicks, giving them a one point advantage and their first lead since the beginning of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs took the lead back again with 4:40 left on the clock, going up by one after a layup from Alston. With points from Smith and Jillian Bond, Mitchell was able to regain control of the game late, this time with a three-point advantage with just over three minutes left to play.
Both teams were scoreless until there was 1:50 left on the clock when Orleans’ Jill Salmon drained a clutch three to tie things up yet again. Alston scored next, giving the Bulldogs a two-point lead with 35 seconds to go. The Bluejackets final points of the game came from Bond, who scored with 25 seconds left to tie things up one final time before Alston’s eventual game-winner.
Haworth commended his team’s effort, not just on the night, but over the course of this recent stretch of close games.
“Once again, it’s never about our effort. It never is about effort. Our kids were working hard. They tried hard and got on the floor when they needed to get on the floor,” Haworth said. “It was a game of missed opportunities for us but starting again, going back to the last seven or eight games, every game kind of come down to this. So, it’s a hard one to swallow because I thought that at times we played really well, but for whatever reason it got away from us.”
Though this is the end of the regular season for Mitchell, they’ve got to turn around and get ready for sectionals, where they’ll face North Knox, who are 23-1 on the season.
With that game just around the corner, Wednesday night at the neutral site of Eastern Greene High School, Haworth said the team will take the coming days to prepare and clear their mind after this tough loss, knowing they’ve got a strong matchup waiting for them in the first round.
“We’ve got to clear (our heads) out after this game. But we’ve got tomorrow, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday,” he said. “Just right now, trying to get over this game and the disappointment, but I’m not disappointed in our efforts. And I’m never disappointed in that because I know we’re always going to get that. It’s just that I thought that we had some opportunities that probably should have got rewarded but didn’t and that’s disappointing.”
- Mylea Slone – 14 points, 5/11 shooting, 2/2 FT, 2 rebounds
- Brooklyn Peterson – 5 points, 2/8 shooting, 1/3 FT, 6 rebounds
- Jillian Bond – 10 points, 4/7 shooting, 2/9 FT, 3 rebounds
- Zoey Smith – 8 points, 3/5 shooting, 2/2 FT, 5 rebounds
- Briley Dicks – 5 points, 2/7 shooting, 0/0 FT, 3 rebounds
- Grace Thompson – 2 points, 1/1 shooting, 0/0 FT, 1 rebound
- Allison Hughett – 0 points, 0/2 shooting, 0/0 FT, 2 rebounds
- Emily DeWitt – 5 points, 2/6 shooting, 0/0 FT, 4 rebounds
- Devanee Gehl – 2 points, 1/3 shooting, 0/0 FT, 0 rebounds
- Jill Salmon – 5 points, 2/3 shooting, 0/0 FT, 1 rebound
- Adrian Abel – 2 points, 1/4 shooting, 0/0 FT, 1 rebound
- Cambree Cline – 3 points, 1/3 shooting, 0/2 FT, 0 rebounds
- Mylie Knight – 15 points, 6/11 shooting, 2/2 FT, 5 rebounds
- Callie Alston – 14 points, 5/8 shooting, 4/7 FT, 2 rebounds