By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – With apologies to Ray Stevens . . .
”Hello, this is your action news reporter, with all the news that is news. On the scene at BNL Fieldhouse, there seems to have been some disturbance. Yes, they call it The Streak. Fastest thing on the court. The Stars are making the news in their tennis shoes.
”Don’t look! But it was too late. Mitchell has been Star-struck.”
The rivalry still exists between Bedford North Lawrence and its county neighbor, but it’s not been a competitive one. BNL leads the series 43-1 with 32 consecutive wins. Think about that – 32 years. Less than 25 percent of marriages last that long. Any other lopsided clash would have already been stopped, the difference irreconcilable.
Time to put version 45 on the turntable, and the song remains the same. BNL (5-7) is a strong favorite to extend The Streak when the Bluejackets (6-4) make the quick trip north on Friday night.
The Stars, coming off a springboard road victory over Evansville Reitz, will not be at full strength. Senior forward Drew Shoufler, still nursing an injured left ankle and wearing a protective boot, is scheduled to make a doctor visit later this week. BNL will miss his athleticism and offensive contributions (6.5 points), although junior Trey Mollet stepped in and made two huge plays late in the fourth quarter to swing the Reitz decision in BNL’s favor.
“I don’t know that it changes anything except it gives other kids an opportunity,” BNL coach Matt Seifers said. “There will be more minutes to see what they can do. It’s the next-kid-up scenario.”
Mitchell has two main weapons. Senior guard Peyton Moore, who erupted for 34 points against South Central, is averaging 21.0, while junior forward Jarrett Phillips is totaling 13.9. They will attract the most defensive attention. Moore has been the catalyst.
“He’s aggressive, for sure,” Mitchell coach Doug Thomas said. “He’s always been a guy that can score. He’s really talented. This being his senior year, it’s big for him. He realizes for us to be successful he has to go out and have the big nights.
“He’s unselfish and creates for other guys. He’s stepping up. His focus has been really good, his effort has been really good. He’s looking to attack.”
Mitchell lost its first two games (Class A No.11 Springs Valley and Class 2A No.10 Crawford County), then ripped off four straight wins to turn the season in the right direction. The Bluejackets, solidified by four seniors in the lineup, fell to 3A No.11 Brownstown and dropped a 74-58 decision to Paoli (9-3) in their last outing.
“We’ve played at a good pace for us,” Thomas said. “We’re small so we’ve tried to run and use our speed to our advantage. The guys got rolling. We’re accepting roles, and that’s been the key.
“The losses we’ve had have all been to really good teams. You never want to lose, but they challenged us. We knew we had guys with some experience. They played a lot of varsity minutes last year. We’ve had so many contributions from everybody.”
BNL will feature its double-digit trio of Brayton Bailey (16.5 points), Jathan Ritter (14.2 after scoring 20 at Reitz), and McCall Ray (12.6). The Stars got a jolt of momentum with the Reitz win that ended a three-game skid.
“It was big, it was needed, almost necessary,’ Seifers said.
“Their record has nothing to do with how good they are,” Thomas said. “They’re really good. It’s going to be a challenge. They’re the best team we’ve played so far and we have our work cut out for us, playing a team with as much athleticism as they have.”
BNL, according to the Sagarin ratings and the Indiana Boys Basketball website, is a 26-point favorite. What would a Mitchell upset be like?
“Once again, your action news reporter, in the booth at gym. Covering the disturbance at the basketball playoff. Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?”
“Yeah, I did. Right down in the middle of the court. Made a hook shot and got out through the concessions stands. I hollered ‘Don’t look!’ But it was too late. Mitchell would be grandstandin’, right there in front of the home team.”
MITCHELL at BNL
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Mitchell 6-4; BNL 5-7
Sagarin ratings: Mitchell 63.16; BNL 81.31
Last meeting: Last year at Mitchell, the Stars cruised to a 78-51 victory. Brayton Bailey had 21 points while Isaiah Stockman added 19 points and 9 rebounds for BNL. Jarrett Phillips had 16 points for the Bluejackets.
Game notes: BNL leads the series 43-1 and has won 32 straight since Mitchell’s only victory in 1986. Mitchell has come within single digits only once in the last 11 meetings.
F – Jarrett Phillips 6-2 Jr.
F – Thomas Symcox 6-2 Sr.
G – Peyton Moore 6-1 Sr.
G – Tyson James 6-0 Sr.
G – Drew Simpson 5-9 Sr.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Jathan Ritter 6-4 Sr.
C – Cale Bunch 6-3 Jr.
G – McCall Ray 6-1 Sr.
G – Brayton Bailey 6-2 Jr.
G – Trey Mollet 5-11 JR.