North’s Second-Half Surge Clamps Down Stars in Opener

BLOOMINGTON – BNL senior Brayton Bailey drives to the basket. Bailey scored 19 points, but Bloomington North powered to a 59-44 win in the season opener on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

(BLOOMINGTON) – The shakiness was the difference. Early nerves during a miserable starting drought, unsure hands during a third-quarter breakdown. Those two stretches cost Bedford North Lawrence in its season debut.

With only one returning starter, the anxious moments could be expected. Bloomington North probably didn’t expect BNL’s gritty answer to its opening bobbles. Alas, the Stars could not duplicate that when the Cougars started to claw a little harder.

North viced down BNL’s offense, allowing only three points during a mistake-prone third quarter, and a 17-3 blast to open the second half was the main key as the Cougars scratched out a 59-44 victory on Tuesday night.

Jeremiah Blair scored 16 points as North spoiled the BNL coaching debut of Jeff Hein. Brayton Bailey had a powerful double-double for the Stars (19 points, 10 rebounds) but the most pressing stat was the turnovers against North’s harassment.

BNL had five turnovers while falling behind early, then none during its excellent second-quarter surge to the halftime lead. Six more errors in the third proved fatal.

“Our game plan was to handle the basketball, slow the tempo,” Hein said. “We stuck to that for a long time. To slow the tempo, you have to handle the ball. When that (the turnover leakage) happens, the floodgates opened a little bit. That was the difference in the game.”

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Kooper Staley drives against North’s Isaac Vencel. Staley scored 13 points.

North had balance that was difficult to defend. Nick Klaiber had 12 points, talented freshman JaQualon Roberts added 11, and veteran Isaac Vencel totaled 10. The Stars couldn’t plug all the hole all the time.

Yet there they were, in position for a road upset. After the 0-for-8 opening, with Bailey finally converting a baseline drive at 3:06, the Stars shot back as Kooper Staley drained two treys (giving BNL a 21-20 lead), Bailey and Trey Mollet added two more. When Bailey slashed the lane for a bucket with 4 seconds left in the half, and Staley stole the lazy inbound pass for a last-second bucket, BNL had a 25-23 lead to chew on.

“Just keep shooting,” was Hein’s advice. “We were getting good looks. Those are shots you make every day. Probably a little nerves.”

North coach Jason Speer demanded more attention to detail in the second half.

“We had to do a better job guarding the 3-point line,” he said. “That puts you on an island against their drivers, and we were able to do both in the second half.

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Zach Sasser absorbs contact from North’s Nick Klaiber.

“We have to learn to win games when we’re not playing great. That’s our goal, to be a great team, and sometimes you have to win not being great. The guys responded in the second half.”

Staley finished with 13 points and Mollet added 10. BNL had 16 turnovers total, too many in a slower approach, and North had a 20-4 edge at the foul line, most of that coming late.

“I’m proud of our effort,” Hein said. “I thought we played hard, hung in the game for a long time.”

The Stars, thanks to Evansville Memorial football success and the postponement of the BNL original home opener on Nov. 30, will return to action against Bloomington South on Dec. 6.

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Trey Mollet turns the corner against North’s Tim Brewster. Mollet had 10 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (46)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 0-1 0-2 0-0 0 5 0

21 Zach Sasser, c 0-0 2-4 0-2 3 1 4

22 Brayton Bailey, g 1-3 7-16 4-6 10 4 19

1 Trey Mollet, g 2-5 4-14 0-0 4 2 10

13 Kooper Staley, g 3-8 5-12 0-0 1 3 13

31 Jackson Miracle 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 4 0

24 Colten Leach 0-0 0-0 0-0 3 0 0

20 Colton Staggs 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 6-17 18-48 4-8 24 19 46

BLOOMINGTON NORTH COUGARS (59)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

13 JaQualon Roberts, f 1-2 4-5 2-3 5 1 11

23 Jeremiah Blair, f 2-4 5-8 4-5 7 2 16

1 Tim Brewster, g 0-4 1-8 4-4 6 1 8

11 Nick Klaiber, g 0-2 4-10 4-4 6 1 12

22 Isaac Vencel, g 0-0 3-6 4-6 4 3 10

10 Marco Fitch 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

24 Cade Laughman 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 1 2

12 Nate Toohill 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 3-12 18-38 20-24 29 12 59

Bedford NL 7 18 3 18 – 44

Bl. North 14 9 11 25 – 59

Turnovers – BNL 16; North 14

Field goal percentage – BNL 18-48 (.375); North 18-38 (.474)

Free throw percentage – BNL 4-8 (.500); North 20-24 (.833)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email