Patience is rewarded as Stars rally to stop Evansville Harrison

BNL’s Trey Mollet absorbs a foul en route to the basket. Mollet scored 14 points as the Stars rallied past Evansville Harrison 56-49 in the second round of the BNL Holiday Tournament on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – The wait was interminable, and Jeff Hein is not a patient coach. He had pondered lineup and rotation changes after the morning meltdown against Milan. Yet he stayed the course.

His Stars rewarded him for his tolerance, which was tested to its limits as he waited for his team to surface from its day-long malaise. His trigger finger got itchy. BNL finally, thankfully, fired.

Down 9 in the third quarter, the Stars rallied for a 56-49 triumph over Evansville Harrison in the second round of the BNL Holiday Tournament on Friday night. Trey Mollet and Brayton Bailey scored 14 points each as BNL (5-4) got back in position to make the championship round.

BNL will face University (7-2) in the final game of pool play on Saturday morning, and the Stars will need an impressive victory to qualify for the final. For the longest time, they were in jeopardy of a disappointing zero for the first day.

The deficit was 40-34 when BNL went on a 12-0 spurt, a span comprised of the final minutes of the third quarter and the first three of the fourth. It coincided with a switch to zone (gasp, that four-letter word) defense. And the Stars closed with 10-1 run during the final two minutes with some clutch plays to snatch a win.

“At some point, the floodgates were going to open,” Hein said. “And they finally opened, after about seven quarters of them being closed. We got going.”

The key burst came via Kooper Staley (a 3-pointer from the wing) and Bailey (a 3-point play in the paint, a lob for a basket, and a layup off a bullet pass from Mollet). The last surge was courtesy of Mollet (a trey for the lead at 49-48) and quiet freshman Colten Leach (who finally made some noise with huge free throws).

BNL’s Brayton Bailey launches a jumper over Harrison’s Terrence Ringo.

Notice all the hands doing the lifting? That wasn’t the case during the inexplicable morning loss to Milan, when Bailey exploded for a career-high 38 and everyone else was a jersey-wearing spectator. With Bailey bottled by Harrison’s zone, others got involved. And it was necessary.

“That’s what we need,” Hein said. “There’s obviously games Brayton will get a large number, but we got him some help. That’s good to see. That’s the way we have to play. We weren’t very aggressive today. We were on our heels. We finally got a little more aggressive instead of being passive.”

The Warriors (2-6) were the aggressors in the game’s midsection, getting the most from Bost as senior guard Mason Bost erupted for 21 of his game-high 24 during that span. He had 11 in the second as Harrison shot to a 24-21 halftime lead, then opened the third with consecutive treys that defied Hein’s scouting report (and Bost’s 2-for-20 start to the season from long range) and gave the Warriors their largest lead at 32-23.

BNL teetered, nearly stumbled, but gathered and charged.

Balance was critical. In addition to the Bailey-Mollet combo, Leach and Jackson Miracle had 9 points each and Staley totaled 8.

“We’ll take that any night,” Hein said. “We looked like a different team. They probably thought some lineup changes were coming. I told them I had confidence in them. But I was going to have a quick trigger if they weren’t getting it done.”

BNL freshman Colten Leach challenges a defender at the rim.

“This win was really important,” Mollet said. “We did not get off to the best start today. We came out with energy tonight.”

Harrison shook off BNL’s first surge with 8 straight points in the fourth as Kam Wilson found a hole for back-to-back buckets on the baseline and Bost boomed his final bomb. When the Warriors misfired late, Harrison coach Nathan Fleenor credited the BNL zone for its effectiveness.

“It just stymied us enough where we weren’t getting good looks,” he said.

After watching Bailey maul Milan, Fleenor wanted his zone to contain BNL’s scoring threat and force someone – anyone – to become the main option.

“It was partially to get the ball in someone else’s hands,” Fleenor said. “And we had two people to help contain him, make someone else beat us from out.”

BNL will face University at 11:45 a.m. The third- and fourth-place games will be played at 6 p.m., with the third-place battle and championship set for 7:45 p.m.

In other second-round games:

Fishers 46, Bloomington North 35 – Class 4A No.8 Fishers won a high-level clash of unbeaten teams as Jeffrey Simmons scored 17 points for the Tigers (9-0). Isaac Vencel had 13 points for the Cougars (7-1).

University 56, Milan 45 – Max Greenamoyer hit 3 3-pointers and scored 15 points while Joe Martin also totaled 15 for the Trailblazers (7-2). Carsyn Ascherman scored 14 for the Indians (3-6).

New Palestine 71, Scottsburg 59 – Maximus Gizzi had 28 points and Dawson Eastes 17 for the Dragons (2-5). Scottsburg fell to 5-4.

Brayton Bailey looks for a passing angle in the midst of Harrison’s zone.

EVANSVILLE HARRISON WARRIORS (49)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

44 Terrence Ringo, f 0-0 2-4 2-2 5 3 6

14 Kevin Langley, g 0-3 0-4 0-0 1 1 0

24 Jahni Summers, g 0-2 1-5 0-0 2 2 2

12 Mason Bost, g 4-7 9-13 2-3 3 3 24

10 Treyvone Hooks, g 1-2 2-5 2-4 2 3 7

54 Ja’Twan Watson 0-0 2-4 2-5 3 2 6

30 Jordan Hart 0-0 0-1 0-0 3 1 0

20 Kam Wilson 0-0 2-2 0-0 1 1 4

Totals. 5-13 18-38 8-14 23 16 49

BEDFORD NL STARS (56)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 3-5 3-4 6 4 9

13 Kooper Staley, g 2-8 3-9 0-0 3 3 8

22 Brayton Bailey, g 0-0 6-10 2-4 6 2 14

1 Trey Mollet, g 2-8 4-11 4-4 4 2 14

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 2-3 5-5 4 1 9

11 Ben Cosner 0-1 1-3 0-0 0 4 2

12 Kaedyn Bennett 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

20 Colton Staggs 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 4-18 19-42 14-17 25 17 56

Ev. Harrison 8 16 16 9 – 49

Bedford NL 9 12 19 16 – 56

Turnovers – Harrison 8, BNL 7

Field goal percentage – Harrison 18-39 (.474); BNL 19-42 (.452)

Free throw percentage – Harrison 8-14 (.571); BNL 14-17 (.824)

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