By Noah Dalton
LEOPOLD – Mitchell High School fell to 0-2 on the year on Friday, falling to Patoka Lake Athletic Conference opponent Perry Central by a final score of 57-22.
The Commodores’ defense was able to smother the Bluejackets early, holding them scoreless for much of the first quarter, and jumping out to a 19-5 lead by the end of the period. They went on to outscore Mitchell 49-7 in the first half.
Similar issues plagued the Bluejackets in their season-opener against Lanesville, where they trailed 43-5 at the end of the first half against the defending 1A state champion Eagles.
Despite a similar result in both games, Mitchell head coach Dakota Brasher continues to see the progress made by his young team, though he said they’ve still got plenty of work to do.
“We are making strides. I thought we had a really good week of practice. Credit to Perry Central, they’re, they’re long, they’re athletic, they’re physical. They’re a good basketball team and they’re well-coached,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve got to keep our heads down and we’ve got to keep getting better every day. That’s our message, that’s our mission.”
Some of that improvement was evident in the second half, where the Bluejackets managed to outscore Perry Central 15-8, with senior Jillian Bond scoring 13 of the team’s points in the half. She managed to make it to the free throw line 17 times in the game, cashing 10 of her attempts, on her way to scoring 18 on the night.
“We played harder. We played with more emotion in the second half. We played harder. We played tougher. I thought Leighann Thompson came out and she was a totally different player in the second half, she was aggressive. Jill Bond was leading our defense in the second half. We seemed more connected in the second half,” Brasher said of his team’s performance to close the game against the Commodores.
“We kind of spread them out more in a second half. In the first half, we had trouble handling the pressure, we couldn’t get down there in half-court. In the second half, we handled the pressure a little bit better. We got into some things where we could spread the floor and let Jill be the playmaker that she is. “Offensively we’ve improved tremendously from game one to game two. I think we took a step back a little bit defensively, but again, I don’t know if that’s necessarily something that we did. I think Perry did some things really, really well that bothered us, so credit to them.”
Things won’t get any easier for Mitchell, at least in the immediate future, as they’ll travel to Bedford the following night to take on the reigning 4A state champions Bedford North-Lawrence (2-0).
The Stars are led by senior guard Chloe Spreen, the 2023 MaxPreps Indiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year, who is averaging 24.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game through the team’s first two matchups.