Sasser the spark as Stars extend winning streak with victory over Braves

BROWNSTOWN – BNL’s Brayton Bailey challenges two Brownstown defenders. Bailey scored 27 points as the Stars conquered the Braves 47-39 for their seventh straight win.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BROWNSTOWN – Lacking emotional energy, caught in the darkness of a classic trap game, Bedford North Lawrence was a broken light bulb in need of a spark. It came from the least expected power source.

Zach Sasser, who doesn’t have an off switch, was the go-to guy for the jolt of effort the Stars needed. Six straight points to start the fourth quarter, diving into a pole of bodies for a huge rebound in the final minute. Those are the winning plays of a senior.

Brayton Bailey scored 27 points, pushing the Stars through a sluggish night for a 47-39 road victory over Brownstown, but the latest triumph in a seven-game winning streak would have been in jeopardy without the late contributions of the kid who made an unscheduled start with teammate Ben Cosner sidelined by injury.

The Braves (6-13) were refusing to be pushed aside. BNL’s 15-point lead in the second half was cut in half, and one more Brownstown bomb would have done considerable damage.

The hero? Sasser, muscling through the lane for an off-balance bucket. Sasser, converting a layup off a Bailey drive and dish. Sasser, knocking down two free throws. Sasser, hitting the deck for a vital rebound with 40 seconds left, helping the Stars (14-8) shrug off Brownstown’s dogged comeback. He matched his career high with 7 points.

“Zach did a great job again,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “That was good to see. He plays hard, there’s no question about that. He gives everything he’s got.

“Every time his number is called, he seems to have the drive and energy to get it done. A kid that doesn’t always get a lot of playing time, but when he does he takes advantage. He made some big plays.”

BROWNSTOWN – BNL’s Kooper Staley drives the baseline for a basket in the first half. Staley scored 5 points.

Bailey, as expected, did as well. He had all 11 BNL points in the third quarter, including the first six that got the Stars their biggest lead at 29-14. With Brownstown’s offensive struggles, that gap seemed much bigger. And it almost wasn’t big enough. The Braves got within 5 (40-35) before Bailey capped his typical scoring performance with four late free throws and a breakout layup against Brownstown’s press.

“We wanted to make somebody beside Bailey or (Kooper) Staley beat us,” Brownstown coach Dave Benter said. “And Bailey is just difficult to guard.”

The Braves have been offensively challenged, failing to break 40 six times this season, and they were scoreless for the first 5:39. When BNL went on an 8-2 surge midway through the second quarter, capped by Colten Leach’s layup off a Bailey look, BNL had a 21-9 lead.

“Since the new year, we’ve played well in stretches of almost every game,” Benter said. “We have to figure out, at some point, we have to compete for 32 minutes. We haven’t figured that out yet, and it’s frustrating as a coach. We’re just not there yet. We just hit stretches where we can’t score.

“That’s not a team you want to do that with.”

The Braves finally found some soft spots in the BNL defense, most from long range. Clay Chastain hit three treys in the second half (on his way to 12 points) and scoring leader Isaiah Wineinger exploded for 10 points in the fourth quarter to total 14.

BROWNSTOWN – Brayton Bailey spins around a defender. Bailey had all 11 BNL points in the third quarter.

Bailey was just too much. He hit 9 of 14 shots, including five in a row in the third quarter, and was the one-man bail out when the Stars needed him.

“There was nobody out there really to stop him,” Hein said. “Another great effort by him.”

BNL’s winning streak is its longest since the 2010-11 season. Considering this was a dangerous trip, coming off Senior Night and looking forward to the huge conference clash with New Albany dead ahead, Hein will take the 8-point win and not complain.

“We looked a little out of sync, which I kind of expected,” he said. “It’s not the lineup (Cosner was sidelined by a sore ankle) we’re used to. But we found a way. We built a 10-point lead and built that with our defense again.

“A game you’re expected to win, going on the road. Our kids just continue to produce.”

BNL can now devote all its energy toward New Albany. The Stars will visit the Doghouse, with a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title at stake, on Feb. 21.

BNL’s Jackson Miracle is oblivious to Brownstown coach Dave Benter’s pretense. Miracle scored 4 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

BEDFORD NL STARS (47)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

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

21 Zach Sasser, c 0-0 2-2 3-4 5 1 7

13 Kooper Staley, g 1-5 2-8 0-0 3 3 5

22 Brayton Bailey, g 0-1 9-14 9-12 1 1 27

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

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

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

Totals 1-6 17-34 12-18 22 9 47

BROWNSTOWN BRAVES (39)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

44 Jalen Tiemeyer, f 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

42 Aidan Schroer, c 0-0 3-4 1-2 1 3 7

5 Clayton Barger, g 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

10 Eli Brown, g 0-2 0-2 0-0 1 0 0

12 Isaiah Wineinger, g 2-3 6-8 0-0 2 3 14

23 Clay Chastain 4-6 4-9 0-0 2 2 12

32 Derek Thompson 0-1 1-5 0-0 4 1 2

20 Nathan Koch 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

30 Carter Waskom 0-1 0-2 2-2 2 0 2

33 Lucas Hines 0-0 1-1 0-1 2 4 2

14 Kiernan Tiemeyer 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 6-13 15-31 3-5 17 15 39

Bedford NL 11 12 11 13 – 47

Brownstown 5 8 14 12 – 39

Turnovers – BNL 5, Brownstown 8

Field goal percentage – BNL 17-34 (.500); Brownstown 15-31 (.484)

Free throw percentage – BNL 12-18 (.667); Brownstown 3-5 (.600)

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