Bluejackets fall to Orleans on senior night 56-25

By Noah Dalton

MITCHELL – It was senior night at The Hive on Thursday night, as Mitchell High School played host to Patoka Lake Athletic Conference opponent Orleans.

Prior to the game, the Bluejackets honored their roster’s two senior players, Jillian Bond and Briley Dicks.

The pair have played an key role on the team’s young roster, which includes six freshman and sophomores.

Mitchell head coach Dakota Brasher, who is in his first year with the program, spoke highly of both players, their contributions to the team, as well as their character off the court.

Senior Briley Dicks drives past an Orleans defender

“We’ve got two unbelievable seniors. When I took the job, my first meeting, I said, I want good people around my program, I want good human beings around my program and I don’t know if you can find two better human beings and the Jillian Bond and Briley Dicks,” he said.

“They have done everything I’ve asked of them, and more and credit to them. We have faced some adversity, I’ve challenged them and they have responded and they’ve both gotten significantly better, not just as basketball players, but as young adults. It was a pleasure coaching them and it’s a sad moment, but at the same time, I’m happy for them to go on. They’re going to do amazing things.”

Following the senior night festivities, Mitchell took the court to battle the Bulldogs, who entered the matchup with an impressive 18-3 record on the year.

The two sides battled, though Orleans ultimately came out with the win on the night, besting the Bluejackets 56-25.

Senior Jillian Bond looks to score against Orleans

Mitchell struggled from the field, particularly in the first half, where they only connected on 2/20 shot attempts to score just five points. Both baskets came in the second quarter after a scoreless first, with a Paisley Modglin on their opening possession of the quarter serving as the Bluejackets’ first points on the board. The other first half basket came courtesy of Bond, who scored inside near the end of the half.

Brasher said the height of Orleans’ defenders likely bothered his team’s shooters, causing them to miss attempts that they’d otherwise hit at a higher percentage.

“They’re really, really big. You can scout it, you can try to emulate it and practice that, but It’s not like seeing the real thing. “Credit to them. They’re really, really big, they’re athletic, they’re strong. Their length I think bothered some shots that we normally hit,” he said. “They track every statistic in the NBA and it’s the taller the person is guarding you, the more your field goal percentage goes down, and I think you saw that. Just those hands up bothered them, being active. Across the board from them, they really bothered us offensively”

Mitchell found a better rhythm in the second half, knocking down 7/24 attempts, though the struggles still ensued. That paired with a 21-point deficit after the first half largely spelled their fate.

With the support of Mitchell’s student section behind her, Paisley Modglin fires a three

“They took the pressure off a little bit there, but eventually they’re gonna start falling. At halftime, I told them, I trust you to make shots. We’re gonna make shots in the second half. We’re not changing what we do. You want to throw it inside, but for Jill to be effective, they’ve got to honor the outside shot. And we had some really wide open looks as well. It just wasn’t our night from the three point line,” said Brasher.

With that loss, the Bluejackets close their regular season with a final record of 1-21, with their lone win coming on Dec. 2 against Clay City, 52-34.

They now look ahead towards the postseason and the first round of 2A sectionals.

Mitchell’s bracket, 47, features some of the toughest opponents at the 2A level in Indiana, those being #2 ranked South Knox (22-1) and the top ranked team in 2A, North Knox (23-1).

Mitchell’s Anna Sowders surveys the floor for an open teammate

Though either side potentially looms as a potential group finals matchup for Mitchell, should they advance to that point, they’ll face a more familiar opponent in the opening round, Paoli (10-12).

The Bluejackets took on the Rams earlier this season on Jan. 16, falling 49-38. The difference in that game was a huge third quarter from Paoli, where they were able to outscore Mitchell 15-4.

Now, the Bluejackets will have a shot at redemption, as well as a chance to win the team’s first postseason game since the 2012-13 season, when they advanced to the group finals before ultimately losing to Jasper 66-53.

“It’s good to play an opponent that you’re familiar with, and that you’ve been able to see up close and personal. They do a really good job. They’ve got some players that really really bothered us the first time around and I think we’re coming in and it’s gonna be a dogfight. It’s gonna be a battle from the opening possession and we’ll be ready to play on Tuesday night,” Brasher said of the matchup with Paoli.

This year, the games will be hosted at North Knox, with the battle between Mitchell and the Rams set to tip-off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30.