Stars finally find their groove for OT win over Patriots

TERRE HAUTE – BNL’s Aden Pemberton encounters defensive traffic in the lane during Saturday night’s overtime clash with Terre Haute North. The Stars prevailed 50-45 for their first win of the season.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

TERRE HAUTE – Desperation was about one more disheartening loss away. Bedford North Lawrence, struggling so mightily on the offensive end, needed something positive in the worst way. The Stars needed their groove back.

How about a victory? In overtime? On the road? How does that sound? Wonderful.

Rather than wallow in misery after totaling only 57 points in their first two losses, the Stars displayed a toughness and resolve, stunning Terre Haute North 50-45 on Saturday night. Kooper Staley, scoreless through the first two outings, scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, leading a balanced attack and surprising win.

Jackson Miracle had two huge rebound baskets in the extra period, and Staley locked down the triumph with two free throws at 10.1, setting the stages for a relieved, raucous locker room. There was more noise in there than the gym, with no fans in attendance and only a pep band for atmosphere and energy.

“Great win for our kids tonight,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said, and nothing has been understated more than that. “We played the same way defensively we did the first two games. But tonight we saw some offense. We had that consistency tonight. That’s what we needed.”

BNL had the win in hand late in regulation, but Matt Gauer’s 4-point play – a 3-pointer and a collision with Aden Pemberton as Gauer stuck out his leg on the downward flight – with 26.2 seconds left forced overtime. The Stars retook control with Miracle’s rebound scores and defensive stops.

Staley started the game on the bench, after going 0-for-11 in the two losses. Hein sensed pressing and angst from his senior shooter, and sidelined his top returning scorer from last season for the entire first quarter. Staley was back to his old form with two fourth-quarter treys and a drive into traffic for the first overtime bucket.

“The message to Kooper was I wanted patience,” Hein said. “I wanted him to watch what it looked like, and he responded really well. We had to find a way to spark him, and it worked.

“He handled it extremely well. He was pressing too hard. He got his stroke back and it was good to see.”

TERRE HAUTE – Terre Haute North’s Matt Gauer battles with Josh Blunk for a loose ball. Gauer had 23 points.

The Stars (1-2) also had other contributors. Ben Cosner had 11 points and 7 rebounds, Colten Leach totaled 11 points, Miracle finished with 7 and 8 boards, and Aden Pemberton was an early force with 7 points.

“We had some balance in every department,” Hein said. “The big thing was the way we shared the ball, and our patience. It paid off.”

The Patriots (1-1) were quick on the trigger from the perimeter. Matt Gauer totaled 23 points but was 7-of-20 overall. Mahki Johnson had 19 points and 9 rebounds. But Mark Hankins, North’s scoring leader during the opening win at Evansville Central on Friday night, was scoreless.

“I thought the difference was BNL valued their possessions much better than we did,” North coach Todd Woelfle said. “They made us guard for an extended period, ran their stuff and executed. We got in a big hurry and our shot selection was not what we would like. We settled for a lot of jumpers.”

Pemberton had two baskets to spark BNL’s 9-8 lead after the first quarter. Cosner buried a trey, Leach converted a tough drive, and Miracle sliced through traffic for bucket and a 22-17 halftime lead.

After the Stars surged to 26-19, North went on a 11-2 run late in the third and took a 30-28 edge. That set the stage for five lead changes and the Gauer bomb in the final frame. North had the final possession in regulation with 5.7 seconds left but turned it over without a shot.

TERRE HAUTE – BNL’s Colten Leach surveys the court. Leach scored 11 points.

The long bus ride home probably won’t seem as tiresome as the shorter journey from Bloomington just 24 hours earlier. Winning cures so much.

“We needed this real bad,” Leach said. “If we didn’t win this game, I thought we would break down. I don’t think we panicked. We kept our composure, and Kooper was hitting shots. It was big.”

“It was really important,” Miracle said. “It was good to get our first win. It was perfect, especially an overtime win where we battled the entire time.”

BNL will return to action at Columbus East for the Hoosier Hills Conference opener on Friday.

TERRE HAUTE – BNL’s Jackson Miracle had two huge offensive rebounds in the overtime and scored 7 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (50)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 1-5 5-13 0-0 7 1 11

41 Austin Messmore, f 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 3-8 5-9 7 4 11

15 Kaedyn Bennett, g 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

3 Aden Pemberton, g 1-2 3-4 0-0 3 5 7

31 Jackson Miracle 0-0 3-4 1-2 8 1 7

12 Kooper Staley 2-6 4-9 2-2 5 3 12

25 Josh Blunk 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 1 2

22 Colton Staggs 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 4-14 18-39 10-15 30 16 50

TERRE HAUTE NORTH PATRIOTS (45)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

20 Mark Hankins, f 0-4 0-5 0-0 3 0 0

11 Mahki Johnson, f 3-6 8-12 0-0 9 2 19

32 Nolan White, g 0-1 0-2 1-2 1 5 1

12 Caden Mason, g 0-1 0-1 0-1 0 5 0

22 Matt Gauer, g 4-15 7-20 5-5 1 1 23

24 Nas McNeal 0-1 1-3 0-0 2 1 2

50 Dylan Ingle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

30 Colin Frank 0-1 0-2 0-0 1 0 0

Totals 7-29 16-45 6-8 23 15 45

Bedford NL 9 13 6 13 9 – 50

TH North 8 9 13 11 4 – 45

Turnovers – BNL 13, TH North 13

Field goal percentage – BNL 18-39 (.462); TH North 16-45 (.356)

Free throw percentage – BNL 10-15 (.667); TH North 6-8 (.750)

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