End of halves are worst of times for Stars as Jennings spurts to 74-68 win

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Brayton Bailey attacks the defense in the lane. Bailey scored 28 points, but the Stars suffered a 74-68 loss to Jennings County on Saturday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

NORTH VERNON – It was a tale of two halves, the end of both halves, that left Bedford North Lawrence suffering through the worst of times.

Jennings County had a finishing kick, winning the race to the locker room and the victory line as the Panthers finally, after seven straight losses, found a way to conquer a nemesis.

The Panthers ended the first half with 16 consecutive points and closed out the Stars with a 10-0 burst in the final two minutes of the second, the key moments during a 74-68 win on Saturday night. Aaron Martin scored 26 points as Jennings (8-5, 1-2 in the Hoosier Hills Conference) torched BNL for the most points the Stars have surrendered this season.

Brayton Bailey, back at full strength after struggling through an illness at Mitchell the previous night, scored 28 points, but the Stars could not overcome the two Jennings runs nor stop anybody in white from making shots, either from the deep line or the free-throw line.

The Panthers drilled 10 3-pointers in the first half, and went into clutch mode at the foul line in the fourth quarter, draining all 12. Jennings was 20 of 36 overall from the field (a crisp 56 percent) and a cool 23 of 27 from the stripe.

Did they shoot that well all the time? Obviously not because they’re not undefeated. But on this night, they were almost undefeatable as the jumpers rained down.

“I think we can shoot that well consistently,” JC coach Josh Land said. “But we got good shots. That was part of it. Those were the ones we need to be taking.”

BNL coach Jeff Hein, displeased by a lot of factors, was red-faced when discussing BNL’s defense. Or lack of it.

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Trey Mollet looks for an open teammate. Mollet came off the bench for a career-high 20 points.

“We stood there, didn’t do anything to match up and defend the ball,” Hein said. “They got wide open looks and knocked them in. We didn’t guard anybody. You have to defend, I don’t care what you’re playing, man or zone. You have to be able to defend the ball. We weren’t playing any defense.

“Number one, you want to prevent them from shooting the ball, wide open. And number two you don’t want to foul them. Neither one of those things occurred.”

Fouls were called often, with the teams combining for 43. The rash of whistles was followed by 51 free throw attempts.

Why did BNL stumble? The two spurts. The Stars were in command at 34-28, with Trey Mollet – invisible for two scoreless games and 0-for-11 from long range the last three – coming off the bench with renewed vigor and deadly force for 12 points. But after his corner 3, courtesy of Bailey’s fourth assist of the half, the Panthers pounced.

Joe Kelley made bombs from each corner, Carson McNulty buried one from the deep wing, and McNulty capped the half with another in the final seconds as Jennings roared to intermission with a 44-34 lead.

NORTH VERNON – BNL freshman Colten Leach slides through traffic for a layup.

BNL slowed the tempo and scrambled back, drawing within 49-46 on Kooper Staley’s lane floater and Bailey’s attack drive. The Stars went back in front early in the fourth on a Staley wing trey and Bailey’s 3-point play. Ben Cosner’s two free throws made it 60-57 with 4:48 remaining.

From that point, after Martin swished a fake-and-fire 3, the lead changed hands five times, the last on two Martin free throws with 1:56 left. From that point, disaster. Three straight BNL turnovers, with a Martin steal and layup in that mix, some hurried shots, and Keegan Manowitz free throws were the deciding blows.

“We showed heart, we found a way to get back in it,” Hein said. “We made some bad decisions late in the game. It’s been the way things have gone, especially here lately. We’re giving up too many points. I don’t know if we get nervous or get passive. We’ve not figured out how to put the pedal to the metal and put a game away.”

Jennings did. Martin was blazing, hitting 8 of 9 shots, Manowitz was a cool freshman at the line, making 12 of 13, to total 19 points, and McNulty blitzed the Stars with five treys for 17 points. The free throws were a key element.

“When you get to the free-throw line, my grandmother can make free throws,” Hein said. “We have to keep them off the line.”

“We made them when we had to,” Land said. “And we had the right people shooting them. We got stops when we needed to.”

Mollet finished with 20 points for the Stars (7-8, 2-1 in the league).

BNL will host Seymour on Friday night.

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Ben Cosner searches for an opening. Cosner scored 5 points before fouling out as BNL was whistled for 24 fouls.

BEDFORD NL STARS (68)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 2-5 0-0 4 4 4

11 Ben Cosner, f 1-3 1-5 2-2 1 5 5

13 Kooper Staley, g 2-5 3-6 0-0 2 3 8

22 Brayton Bailey, g 1-2 7-14 13-16 8 4 28

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

1 Trey Mollet 3-5 7-11 3-4 0 4 20

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

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

Totals 7-16 21-46 19-24 21 24 68

JENNINGS COUNTY PANTHERS (74)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Aaron Martin, f 3-3 8-9 7-9 7 3 26

44 Jacob Vogel, f 0-0 1-1 2-2 7 4 4

13 Trey Wilson, g 0-0 0-0 2-2 3 4 2

20 Carson McNulty, g 5-10 6-11 0-2 4 2 17

22 Keegan Manowitz, g 1-6 3-12 12-13 1 1 19

33 Joe Kelley 2-4 2-4 0-0 2 2 6

30 Lance Bailey 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0

3 Owen Miller 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Totals 11-22 20-36 23-27 24 19 74

Bedford NL 22 12 14 20 – 68

Jennings County 21 23 9 21 – 74

Turnovers – BNL 11, JC 14

Field goal percentage – BNL 21-46 (.457); JC 20-36 (.556)

Free throw percentage – BNL 19-24 (.792); JC 23-27 (.852)

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