Reitz’s roaring inferno engulfs BNL as Panthers shoot to 66-52 win

BNL’s Brayton Bailey drives against Evansville Reitz star Khristian Lander. Bailey scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but Lander had 25 points while leading Reitz to a 66-52 win on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – Those Australian wildfires spread to BNL Fieldhouse. Nothing could douse the roaring Reitz inferno that burned down Bedford North Lawrence.

Swish, swish, swish. The net on the south end of the court had scorch marks from all the shots that zinged through it during the first half. The Panthers were old-school, NBA Jam video game hot: they were all on fire.

Reitz, with sensational point guard Khristian Lander burying five first-half 3-pointers, shot down the Stars 66-52 on Friday night. Lander, the nation’s top-rated guard in the junior class, scored 25 points and Owen Dease added 15 as Evansville Reitz left a smoke trail with its first victory on Damon Bailey Court.

Reitz, not known for its amazing ability from long distance, was superb from the line, connecting on 11 of 13 treys in the first half while blasting to a 42-32 lead. When BNL (6-7) scored only 3 third-quarter points, the blaze was out of control as Reitz rolled to a 20-point lead and cruised.

Lander, the recruiting target of every major college program in the Midwest and beyond, was as good as advertised. He didn’t miss from the perimeter in the first half, and he didn’t miss from inside the arc in the second. What do you do about that? Not much.

”His strength is off the dribble,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “If he shoots the three like that, he’s tough to guard. He’s good. He showed again he’s the real deal. There’s a reason he’s getting recruited as heavily as he is.”

BNL’s Ben Cosner waits for defenders to descend in the lane. Cosner scored 7 points off the bench.

Reitz (7-3 with three straight wins) lit the fuse from the first possession as Logan Martin buried back-to-back bombs. Lander followed with a pair, and the margin was 20-10, then 27-10 when the Panthers opened the second quarter with more heat, before BNL could find a fire hose. The Stars were engulfed.

BNL did not go quietly. Brayton Bailey, as usual, was a force and Ben Cosner came off the bench for 7 points, including a trey to get BNL within range at intermission. But then, on the same end of the floor that Reitz found so welcoming, BNL went into freezer mode, scoring 3 points in the third quarter (similar to the same dooming frame in the opener at Bloomington North) as Reitz went to a triangle defense and caused the Stars to stall in flat-footed puzzlement.

“We have to find a way to score against a variety of defenses,” Hein said. “Not just man-to-man. We were trying to hit shots, the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket.”

Bailey was hard to handle as he scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds. Kooper Staley added 10 points. But everyone else combined to hit only 8 of 30 shots.

Brayton Bailey soars to the rim for a layup.

“Brayton battles every night,” Hein said. “No change. He plays his tail off and does everything he can to help his team win.”

Reitz came in shooting 35 percent as a team from 3-point range, which is certainly respectable. Lander had hit only 16 treys in 10 games. The explosion was uncontainable.

“We shot it well,” Reitz coach Michael Adams said. “Sometimes it can be fool’s gold, but we’re set up well against zone. We were able to knock them down, so it was good. Any time you can go on the road and get a W, you’ll take it, no matter the situation.”

BNL freshman Colten Leach looks for an opening against Reitz’s Logan Martin.

The scary part is Reitz was not at full strength. The Panthers left a player at home with an illness, and Dease had battled sickness all week. So that makes the Lander leadership and production even more noteworthy.

“It was like having an AAU team, we showed up to play with what we’ve got,” Adams said. “It’s a great win. Survive is a good way to say it.

“With all the attention, Lander is a true point guard and he really is unselfish. He’s not afraid to give it up and make people better. It’s pretty remarkable what he’s capable of doing.”

Lander went over the 1,000-point mark for his career with his fourth trey of the first half. He’ll score much more. He also went head-to-head with Bailey on multiple occasions.

“I respect him a lot,” Lander said. “It was a good matchup.”

BNL will look for some aloe vera to soothe the burn marks as it regroups to face county rival Mitchell next week.

Reitz coach Michael Adams directs the action from the sideline.

EVANSVILLE REITZ PANTHERS (66)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

32 Ethan Higgs, f 0-1 2-5 2-2 3 1 6

12 Owen Dease, f 3-4 6-8 0-0 3 2 15

4 Khristian Lander, g 5-9 10-17 0-0 5 4 25

11 Mar’Quon Givens, g 1-2 2-8 1-2 8 0 6

3 Logan Martin, g 3-4 3-4 0-0 1 2 9

5 Jadyn McHugh 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 2 0

33 Isaac Higgs 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 3

23 K.T. Tinson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

21 Harrison Raisor 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 1 0

55 Jonathan Stumpf 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 2

Totals 13-21 25-45 3-4 25 13 66

BEDFORD NL STARS (52)

3s FGs FT R F Pts

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 1-5 0-0 0 0 2

13 Kooper Staley, g 2-4 3-6 2-2 2 3 10

22 Brayton Bailey, g 1-2 6-11 9-12 12 2 22

1 Trey Mollet, g 0-5 0-5 0-0 2 0 0

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

11 Ben Cosner 1-3 3-7 0-0 2 1 7

20 Colton Staggs 1-4 1-5 0-0 0 0 3

12 Kaedyn Bennett 2-3 2-3 0-0 0 1 6

21 Zach Sasser 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

5 Dylan Nikirk 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

25 Josh Blunk 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 7-24 17-47 11-14 25 10 52

Evan. Reitz 20 22 13 11 – 66

Bedford NL 10 22 3 17 – 52

Turnovers – Reitz 9, BNL 8

Field goal percentage – Reitz 25-45 (.556); BNL 17-47 (.362)

Free throw percentage – Reitz 3-4 (.750); BNL 11-14 (.786)

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