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Wayne senior Justin Mitchell was not supposed to be aware of just how close he was to the all-time program scoring record.
But someone let him in on the secret.
“I knew I was close,” Mitchell said. “Coaches wanted to surprise me. The principal wasn't supposed to say anything to me about it, but did (Friday after school).”
The secret was out, but Mitchell did not let it affect him much. In Saturday's 55-29 victory over Jay County, Mitchell surpassed Roosevelt Barnes' career record of 1,304 points set from 1974-77.
Mitchell is now at 1,311 points over four years for the Generals.
“I actually didn't know I would have the record, ever,” Mitchell said. “Coaches would always hear me say to people, 'I can't win the scoring record it's like 2,000 points'.
“It means a lot because my dream was always to be one of the best to come out of high school. And I have a record? Yeah, it means a lot.”
Mitchell looks forward to coming back to Wayne as the all-time leading scorer and being looked upon as one of the best players to ever come through the program.
“A lot of people have set records and a lot of talent has come through Wayne basketball-wise,” Mitchell said. “And I outscored them, it's an honor.”
Mitchell also knows his biggest fan is thrilled with his accomplishment.
“It really means a lot to me and I know that my dad is looking down on me,” said Mitchell about his late father. “He is smiling and bragging on me up there!”
With the program's first sectional crown since 2008 captured last Saturday, Carroll completed an improbable run to a title after entering the postseason with a 7-12 record.
For Coach Mark Redding, who led Elmhurst to a state championship in 2009, nothing drastic changed within the program leading to this recent run of five straight victories, including a 65-49 win over East Noble for the sectional title.
“You got to have luck on your side when you win championships,” Redding said. “Our shots are falling (right now).”
Carroll had not tasted a postseason title since 2008, but the team is familiar with winning in the playoffs.
“The great thing is with these girls, they may not have been successful in basketball, but they have been in volleyball, they have been in softball,” Redding said. “It is nice they understand what to do for regional. They have been there in those sports, they can use that experience.”
The Chargers will play Class 4A No. 11 Logansport (22-2) on Saturday at noon at Kokomo.
Eric Thornton is no rookie when it comes to coaching the Norwell basketball program. For 17 years he has patrolled the sidelines for the Knights, one of the most-tenured coaches in the area.
He has led the program to success, but nothing matches the last few seasons that has seen Norwell win four straight sectional titles.
So how does a program get to the point where it is having such sustained success?
“Our feeder program has been the biggest part,” Thornton said. “All (our) kids have come through the Norwell system; they haven't come from other programs.
“When you have those kids playing together from an early age … it's a huge part of it.”
The Knights (19-4) lost four players to graduation last season, but have replaced that production with youngsters, including a solid sophomore class.
The mark of a truly solid program that can compete year in and year out for championships is one that does not rely on just one class to carry them for multiple seasons, but replaces talent with more talent.
“The commitment has been outstanding, we have a record number (of players) in our in-house league,” said Thornton. “We don't want that to slip.”
The next step is a regional crown, something Norwell has not won since 1977. But the Knights' Class 3A regional has not been easy in past seasons, with Concordia Lutheran, NorthWood and Hamilton Heights some of the recent teams in the field.
“It's tough because our regional has been brutal,” Thornton said. “We're right there, we're knocking the door. Maybe it happens when we don't expect it to happen.”
Norwell will take on No. 11 NorthWood (19-5) at noon Saturday at Bellmont.
* Canterbury senior Kindell Fincher surpassed 2,000 career points in Friday's sectional win over Churubusco.
* At 18-1, North Side is tied with Greensburg for the best record in the state.
* With 387 victories, New Haven coach Al Gooden is the winningest area coach in boys' basketball.
*With 562 wins, Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger is the winningest area coach in girls' basketball and is also the No. 4 all-time winningest coach in the state.
* The Bishop Luers girls' basketball team holds the best area postseason record since the adoption of class basketball at 75-11 (.872).
Remember to keep in mind that this poll is not based on what a team has done the entire season, but rather how the teams rank in terms of their play right now.
Boys Area Top 10
1. North Side
3. New Haven
9. Blackhawk Christian