On toughness scale, Stars earn ‘11’ with win over Jennings

BNL’s Ben Cosner challenges Jennings County’s Darius Thomas in the lane. Cosner scored 16 points while leading the Stars to a 62-52 win over the Panthers on Saturday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – Jeff Hein, as old-school, no-nonsense as they come, demands four things from his basketball teams: Play hard. Play smart. Play together. Play defense. These are non-negotiable, displayed in bold print in the locker room lest anyone forget.

Bedford North Lawrence earned a four-star rating in all those key categories Saturday night, posting the most satisfying of victories in a test of toughness and grit. After falling twice to Jennings County last season, including the sectional setback that ended the campaign, this was worth the sweat for the sweetness.

The Stars, raising their game to match the challenge, slugged out a 62-52 triumph over the Panthers. Ben Cosner scored 16 points and sophomore Colton Staggs came off the bench for 12 as BNL (5-6, 2-1 in the Hoosier Hills Conference) came back from the disappointment of the overtime loss to Madison with its best win of the season.

BNL took the lead on Staggs’ acrobatic, catch-twist-and-fling 3-pointer from close to the halfcourt circle to end the first quarter, took control with a defensive clinic en route to a double-digit advantage, took over to lead by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter.

In the previous battles with Jennings, the Stars could not match the Panthers in physicality. They got pushed around, knocked down and bullied. Not this time.

”I thought we played as hard as I can ask them to play,” Hein said. “This is the most satisfying because they beat us twice last year.

“They asked what I thought on the play-hard scale. A 10? I said, ‘No, an 11 tonight.’ They really played hard. We played very well together. And I thought we defended, until the end, great. Looking back, that’s probably our best first three quarters of basketball we played all year.”

BNL’s Colton Staggs gets away from JC’s Owen Law. Staggs came off the bench to score 12 points.

The Panthers (5-6, 1-2) made the first move, muscling in front 11-6. From that point, BNL became the aggressor. Jackson Miracle, coming off the bench in a lineup change, scored off a rebound. Colten Leach crashed to a layup, and Staggs finished the quarter with his buzzer-defying shot.

That turned momentum, and BNL seized it. Miracle scored off a Leach drive, Staggs darted inside for a layup, and Cosner cashed a baseline jumper for a 23-13 lead. Jennings never really recovered.

“I thought we were generally soft,” Jennings coach Josh Land said. “We gave up too many easy drives in the paint, we missed a lot of easy shots, we didn’t handle playing through contact very well. I thought BNL was the more physical, tough-nosed team.”

BNL got to halftime with a 25-17 edge, then Cosner exploded with 8 points in the third, including a pair of 3-pointers. As Jennings extended its defense to zone trap and force the issue, the Stars tore that apart, breaking to a 41-27 lead on the second Cosner bomb. Aden Pemberton gave the Stars their biggest lead at 47-32 via two free throws with 5:05 left.

After Justin Ramey buried two wing jumpers and Keegan Manowitz ripped two deep treys, slicing the deficit to 51-46 with two minutes remaining, Staggs converted a 3-point play, Cosner scored off a Staggs assist, and Staggs made four straight free throws to squelch that rally.

“This is really big,” Cosner said. “We had a setback the last game. Everyone stepped up.”

BNL’s Colten Leach looks for an opening against JC’s Trey Wilson. Leach scored 10 points.

Cosner, who didn’t score against Madison, was 6 of 8 from the field and added 5 rebounds. Miracle had 8 points and 6 boards, Leach finished with 10 points and directed an attack that was guilty of only 8 turnovers. Pemberton added 8 points.

“Ben played a great game, one of the best I can remember him playing,” Hein said. “Not just offensively, he really played well defensively. He did all the right things, played within himself. Colton was huge. He really played well off the bench.

“I thought we out-physicaled them, which you can tell by the rebound numbers (30-27 in BNL’s favor). We don’t do that very often, we haven’t done that lately. Rebounding is big for us.”

Manowitz paced Jennings with 20 points while Owen Law added 10. The Panthers were only 8 for 24 from long range, and they hit five in the final quarter to reach that mark.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, which made it easier for BNL to pack it in,” Land said. “But no excuse, we gave up too many easy baskets to Leach and the guards. We couldn’t kept the whole team in front of us.”

BNL will return to action at Seymour on Friday.

BNL’s Kooper Staley got the Stars started with 4 first-quarter points.

JENNINGS COUNTY PANTHERS (52)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

20 Carson McNulty, f 0-1 0-5 0-0 4 3 0

44 Jacob Vogel, c 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

22 Keegan Manowitz, g 3-10 7-18 3-4 3 0 20

3 Trey Wilson, g 0-1 1-6 1-2 6 3 3

21 Owen Law, g 2-8 4-10 0-0 3 5 8

40 Justin Ramey 2-3 3-4 0-0 2 3 8

14 Lane Zohrlout 0-0 2-2 0-0 3 0 4

4 Darius Thomas 0-0 1-2 2-5 0 1 4

45 Peyton Hayden 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

12 Cole Sigler 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 3

5 Logan McIntosh 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 8-24 19-48 6-11 27 15 52

BEDFORD NL STARS (62)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 2-3 6-8 2-2 5 1 16

15 Kaedyn Bennett, f 1-4 1-4 0-0 1 3 3

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 4-11 2-2 5 1 10

12 Kooper Staley, g 0-0 1-3 2-2 1 0 4

3 Aden Pemberton, g 0-0 2-8 4-6 4 2 8

31 Jackson Miracle 0-0 3-4 2-2 6 1 8

22 Colton Staggs 1-3 3-7 5-7 2 0 12

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

41 Austin Messmore 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

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

Totals 4-10 20-46 18-23 30 8 62

Jennings Co. 11 6 12 23 – 52

Bedford NL 13 12 16 21 – 62

Turnovers – Jennings County 12, BNL 8

Technical foul – BNL bench (illegal substitution)

Field goal percentage – Jennings 19-48 (.396); BNL 20-46 (.435)

Free throw percentage – Jennings 6-11 (.545); BNL 18-23 (.783)

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