By Justin Sokeland
(MADISON) – Sherron Wilkerson, a teammate of Damon Bailey for one season at Indiana University, dared to compare the next generation Bailey to his legendary father. And he had reason.
Brayton Bailey, for this night, for this performance, was a clone of Indiana’s greatest, scoring at will and finding open teammates when Madison defenders, in frantic desperation to stop The Kid from his relentless attack, abandoned their post and got shot down anyway.
Wilkerson could only admire it. His Cubs were tormented as Bailey scored 27 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 6 assists while powering Bedford North Lawrence to an impressive 64-55 victory on Friday night.
Jackson Miracle, the target of so many Bailey passes, added a career-high 14 points as BNL (4-2, 2-0 in the Hoosier Hills Conference) won its fourth straight game and its first league road test. The Stars also ended Madison’s four-game streak to dampen Madison’s best start in five years.
With his father on the BNL sideline, Bailey the Younger put on a vintage show. He found open space in the lane and converted, he crashed through the lane and dished off to Miracle and other open teammates for point-blank baskets. Wonder why the Stars shot a blistering 66 percent? Easy answer.
“We shot a lot of layups,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said, spoiling the quiz. “The reason we shot layups was we were unselfish. We didn’t take bad shots. We took what they gave us, the way we shared it.
“Brayton had a heck of a game. They tried everything. I thought that was his best offensive game of the year, not only scoring but making good decisions.”
Wilkerson defended his statement, although it was unnecessary. Comparing the son to the greatest scorer in state history is often unfair and almost sacrilege to the old-timers. This time it was deserved. With BNL trailing midway through the third quarter, he was at his best, sparking a 12-1 run that flipped the scoreboard and changed the outcome.
“Man, he may be tougher than Damon,” Wilkerson said. “I’m not kidding when I say that. Damon was a very tough player, tough kid, but man, that kid is unreal. His mental toughness is second to none. And I mean no disrespect to his dad. That’s as close to Damon as you can get.”
The key moments were the late stages of the third quarter. The Cubs owned a 39-33 lead when Bailey took over, scoring in the post, spinning through the lane for another, and gathering from close range for a third straight basket. Miracle scored twice, and Bailey ended the period with a buzzer-beater from the left wing for a 45-40 advantage.
Miracle opened the fourth with two more buckets, both on Bailey feeds, and the Stars had double-digit command. By the way, Madison went almost 8 minutes without a field goal during that storm.
“Our defense was its best in that span,” Hein said. “We challenged a couple of kids to get out and defend those guys better, and they came back to play better. We stayed patient on defense. That’s what we have to do, make them force up some bad shots. We really defended hard.”
Bailey was 13 of 17 from the floor, only a few from more than 6 feet. Miracle was 7 of 8. All from touch-the-rim range.
“I get my hands ready for the ball,” Miracle said. “I know it’s going to come. I trust my teammates.”
Trey Mollet added 13 points, including a steal for a 3-point play to clinch it.
“We all shared the ball pretty well,” Bailey said, whose main objective is still looking for the center on the move in the paint when he curls into the lane. “We tried to hit the open man and make the best decisions.”
Mason Welsh, who was responsible for the early Madison lead with 13 first-half points, totaled 19 while Luke Miller added 13. Luke Ommen, one of the main Madison threats, had only one basket. Bailey had that assignment most of the night.
“He was the utility man,” Wilkerson said. “He made the right passes when he needed to, made the right decisions.”
The Stars will host Class 3A No.1 Silver Creek on Saturday night. The Dragons (6-0) edged Jeffersonville 53-52 on Friday night.
BEDFORD NL STARS (64)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 7-8 0-0 4 1 14
13 Kooper Staley, g 0-4 1-5 0-0 2 5 2
22 Brayton Bailey, g 0-1 13-17 1-3 8 2 27
1 Trey Mollet, g 1-4 4-8 4-5 3 1 13
24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 4-7 0-0 6 3 8
20 Colton Staggs 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Totals 1-9 29-44 5-8 24 13 64
MADISON CUBS (55)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
24 Mason Welsh, f 3-4 6-11 4-4 4 5 19
34 Nick Center, f 0-0 1-1 0-0 0 0 2
14 Luke Ommen, g 1-1 1-4 1-2 3 3 4
12 Luke Miller, g 3-5 4-9 2-5 3 2 13
1 Kaden Oliver, g 1-3 4-10 2-2 2 2 11
23 Jackson Falconberry 0-0 2-6 0-0 4 0 4
42 Jared Ferguson 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 1 2
5 Colin Yancey 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 8-13 19-42 9-13 18 13 55
Bedford NL 16 10 19 19 – 64
Madison 14 16 10 15 – 55
Turnovers – BNL 7, Madison 7
Field goal percentage – BNL 29-44 (.659); Madison 19-42 (.452)
Free throw percentage – BNL 5-8 (.625); Madison 9-13 (.692)