Streaking Stars to renew county rivalry with Mitchell for 50th anniversary

BNL junior Patric Matson and the Stars (7-2) will visit Mitchell (8-6) on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – For the 50th anniversary, gold-themed gifts are in order. The precious metal represents prosperity and strength, and the half-century mark holds special meaning.

Bedford North Lawrence and Mitchell will reach that milestone on Friday night when the streaking Stars make the short journey south to renew the county rivalry. It’s been an uneasy marriage of convenience and proximity, with little love lost, especially when the boundaries get a little blurred. It’s also been a one-sided union.

BNL holds a dominating 48-1 advantage in the series, including a current streak of 37 consecutive wins. Depending on which web site is the most accurate, according to the trusted John Harrell encyclopedia of knowledge, the longest such streak is Barr-Reeve’s current 43-game run against Shoals. Combining the Harrell information with the famous Hickory Husker record book for Hoosier Hysteria, BNL’s streak falls just behind Perry Central (39 in a row over Cannelton), Tecumseh (38 straight over poor Cannelton), Bethany Christian (38 in a row over Howe Military from 1979-2010) and Elkhart (38 straight over Goshen from 1943-61) for the longest in state history.

That’s a lot of pressure. Nobody wants to be known as the one who lets that end. That’s a lot of motivation, because the Bluejackets would love to snap this skid. They came agonizingly close just four years ago, falling 56-55 when a final shot went astray, although the gap has been widening since then.

Enough about the past. What about the present? Both teams have reason for optimism. BNL (7-2) has won its last six games to start earning notice in the state poll voting, and Mitchell (8-6) is off to its best start in five years. The Stars will be favored once again, but the Jackets have been interesting and dangerous. No lead, positive or negative, has been safe. So why should a streak be any safer.

Mitchell senior Austin Mosier leads the Bluejackets in scoring. Photo courtesy of Noah Dalton

For Mitchell coach Jackson Ryan, a BNL grad now in his fourth season with the Bluejackets, this has been an uncomfortable clash, with so many bonds of family and friendship on both sides. This will be the best team he’s assembled for this edition.

“The first thing is the job that Jackson has done is really good,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “Their improvement from last year to this year has been significant. I see a really solid team because they have size, they’re aggressive, and they can be trouble. You can see they’re growing and developing. They’re a very capable team.“

These Jackets epitomize the team concept. Austin Mosier is the scoring leader at 10.9, but four others (Ben Seitzinger, Dawson Irwin, Kale England and Gavin Robinson) are in the 6-to-7 range.

“I want it to be a team,” Ryan said. “It’s never about one guy. If you look at our stats, we do that. By no means are we a finished product, but I like where we are. When things have gone well for us, we’re moving the ball, we’re attacking. Sharing the ball is so big for us. Everything we do will be by committee. They know what we want by now, how we want to play on both ends.”

Unpredictability comes with balance. Mitchell had a 24-point halftime lead against North Knox, then had to escape with a two-point triumph. The Bluejackets trailed White River Valley by a 26-6 count before rallying to win.

“Consistency is the name of the game for us,” Ryan said, a little tongue-in-cheek critique. “We’re just right there. It’s a possession here, a possession there. There are two-minute spurts that we go through, when things snowball, and we allow a run. That ends up being the difference.”

Few teams have been hotter than BNL. The team shooting percentage (54 percent) has been extraordinary, especially when considering how many long-range or mid-range shots are included in that total. Junior wing Patric Matson leads the way at 19.4 points, while senior guard Noah Godlevske is totaling 18.0.

BNL senior Noah Godlevske is averaging 18.0 points per game.

“You have to give Coach Godlevske a ton of credit,” Ryan said. “He’s getting the absolute most out of these guys, as individuals and as a team. I don’t know how many people, outside of their locker room, would have seen this coming. Those kids are hungry, and they’ve stepped up to go above and beyond what most people would have thought they would be at this point.

“They have two phenomenal scorers. It will start with us trying to slow down Noah and Matson. Not a lot of people have done that to this point in the season. We’ll try to slow them as much as we can, not give them second looks, and we have to take care of the basketball. That’s the biggest key for us.”

Mitchell is coming off back-to-back setbacks against Paoli and South Central, while BNL extended its run of success with tough wins over Evansville Reitz (61-59 in overtime) and South Knox (55-43).

“We’re enjoying the success side of it, but you can’t get too comfortable with it,” Godlevske said. “When teams watch us, they need to think we’ve grown a bunch. We had that third quarter at South Knox that wasn’t too flashy (with more turnovers than points during some brief scuffling). We have so many areas to find on film that we can show, ‘Hey, we can’t get comfortable.’”

Last year, BNL smacked the Jackets 68-24, triggering the running clock (for the recently enacted ‘mercy rule’) for the first time in program history. Colten Leach had 15 points, Godlevske added 14, and Mitchell was guilty of 21 turnovers.

Don’t expect this one to get out of hand.

“It’s a game the students get up for, the fans in both communities look forward to it no matter what the records are,” Godlevske said. “The kids enjoy the game because of the summer banter that goes on. So it gives it more special meaning.”

Gavin Robinson is one of five Jackets averaging 6 or more points. Photo courtesy of Noah Dalton


When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 7-2; Mitchell 8-6

Sagarin ratings: BNL 81.89; Mitchell 63.01

Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Stars crushed the Bluejackets 68-24. Colten Leach had 15 points and Noah Godlevske added 14 for BNL. Gavin Robinson had 9 points for Mitchell. BNL triggered the running clock for the final 10 minutes.

Previous game story: Mercy! BNL extends streak to 37

Game notes: BNL has won 37 consecutive games in the series, dating back to Mitchell’s lone triumph in 1986. The Stars lead the overall series 48-1. Mitchell coach Jackson Ryan graduated from BNL in 2013.

Starting lineups

Bedford NL Stars

F – Patric Matson 6-3 Jr.

F – Logan Miracle 6-4 Jr.

G – Maddox Ray 5-11 Sr.

G – Noah Godlevske 5-11 Sr.

G – Trace Rynders 5-11 Sr.

Mitchell Bluejackets

F – Austin Mosier 6-2 Jr.

F – Ben Seitzinger 6-1 Sr.

F – Kale England 6-2 Sr.

G – Gavin Robinson 6-0 So.

G – Bryson Shoults 5-10 Sr.