Splash Man and the Stars Douse South Knox’s Homecoming

VINCENNES – BNL’s Jackson Miracle gathers for an interior basket during Saturday night’s clash with South Knox. The Stars won the series debut 57-44.

By Justin Sokeland

(VINCENNES) – Kooper Staley’s main job is simple. Shoot it. Oh yeah, he has to defend, handle the ball, some other mundane, demanded basketball stuff. But he’s Bedford North Lawrence’s best perimeter threat. And he showed why.

After a tepid start to his junior season, Staley displayed that sniper’s mentality, swishing and swooshing his way to a career-high 17 points as Bedford North Lawrence stopped South Knox 57-44 on Saturday night.

Staley buried 4 treys, three during a sensational start, to make the Spartans (2-2) pay for packing the lane in wait against Brayton Bailey’s power drives, spins and slashing penetration. The quiet assassin was a pedestrian 5-of-16 in the first four games. He was honed in this time.

The Splash Man left the Spartans all wet, dousing the Homecoming festivities as the Stars (3-2) cruised to their third consecutive win.

“It was a big relief,” Staley said. “I haven’t shot the ball that well, so I’m just glad we got a win.”

His perimeter damage, and Jackson Miracle’s three layups, blasted BNL to a 21-9 lead before Garrett Holscher’s midcourt bomb at the first-quarter buzzer saved the Spartans from an early demise. And Staley’s last, a clutch jumper after South Knox had scrambled within 47-42 with 3 minutes left, saved BNL from a late collapse.

“That was a huge one,” Staley said. “It just lifted us up. It helped our confidence go up so we could finish the game strong.”

VINCENNES – BNL’s Kooper Staley looks for an opening. Staley scored a career-high 17 points and hit four 3-pointers.

BNL’s best moments, after the hot opening, were the final stages of the third and first three minutes of the fourth. South Knox was breathing down BNL’s neck, a possession away at 36-33, when Miracle wormed free for a layup off an inbound set and freshman Colten Leach scored on the fast end of a fast break.

Staley started the fourth with a drive for a 3-point play, Leach turned a steal into a breakaway, and Trey Mollet cashed in on transition as the Stars bolted to a 47-35 lead.

“When you get an environment like this, you have to be able to grind it out,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “You’re going to see their best on Homecoming. We did a good job of getting stops at crucial times. Our defense has gotten a lot better. Those type of numbers (40.7 points allowed the last three games) will keep you in the game. It was a good, quality win.”

BNL was nicely balanced as Mollet totaled 11, Leach added 9 (on 4-of-4 shooting, plus 7 rebounds) and Miracle added 8. “They were really packing the middle on Brayton,” Hein said. “We had to have some guys knock some in.”

VINCENNES – BNL’s Brayton Bailey attracts attention in the lane. Bailey scored 12 points.

South Knox might have dared someone other than Bailey to produce, but the intention was not to leave shooters so alone. BNL shot 60 percent.

“Yes, we wanted somebody other than Brayton to beat us,” SK coach David Burkett said. “But we don’t want to give up four 3s in the first quarter, either. We did a poor job of help-and-recover.”

Justin Fickling paced the Spartans with 22 points while Garrett Holscher totaled 14 (hitting 4 treys in the first three quarters to keep SK within range). Brennon Robinson came off the beach to contribute 8 points. That was it for the Spartans.

“If we can’t play inside-out, we have problems,” Burkett said. “If we can’t throw the ball inside and collapse the defense, we’re in trouble.”

BNL won the series opener and established momentum for the week ahead.

“It feels like we have a better mindset,” Staley said. “We just needed to work harder and be more prepared, especially on the road.”

BNL will visit Madison (4-1) on Friday night before challenging Class 3A No.1 Silver Creek the following night.

VINCENNES – BNL’s Trey Mollet glides under the bucket for a point-blank shot. Mollet scored 11 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (57)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 4-6 0-0 2 1 8

13 Kooper Staley, g 4-6 6-8 1-1 3 0 17

22 Brayton Bailey, g 0-1 4-8 4-5 7 2 12

1 Trey Mollet, g 1-3 5-10 0-0 2 1 11

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 4-4 1-3 7 2 9

21 Zach Sasser 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

11 Ben Cosner 0-1 0-2 0-0 1 1 0

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

Totals 5-11 23-38 6-9 25 7 57

SOUTH KNOX SPARTANS (44)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

25 Logan Anthis, f 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 3 0

10 Justin Fickling, f 1-3 9-17 3-4 3 3 22

44 Walker McCrary, c 0-1 0-3 0-0 0 1 0

3 Garrett Holscher, g 4-9 5-13 0-0 1 2 14

4 Dylan Maeder, g 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

15 Brennon Robinson 2-2 3-4 0-0 5 1 8

14 Tristian Wirth 0-0 0-1 0-0 2 2 0

34 Cody Dawson 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Totals 7-15 17-40 3-4 16 13 44

Bedford NL 21 9 10 17 – 57

South Knox 12 14 7 11 – 44

Turnovers – BNL 14, South Knox 12

Field goal percentage – BNL 23-38 (.605); South Knox 17-40 (.425)

Free throw percentage – BNL 6-9 (.667); South Knox 3-4 (.750)

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