BNL’s second-half surge Staggs-ers Mitchell during 55-40 victory

BNL’s Colton Staggs drives against Mitchell’s Connor Fields. Staggs scored 10 points as the Stars conquered the Bluejackets 55-40 on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – With one of Bedford North Lawrence’s best on the bench, handcuffed by four fouls and reduced to cheerleader status in the opening minute of the second half, the Stars hit Mitchell with their best. And that was too much for the Bluejackets to withstand.

Colten Leach is the linchpin for BNL. So much hinges on the sophomore’s lockdown defensive ability, on his fearlessness to attack the lane and score tough points. Take him away, the Stars should have faltered.

They did not. With the leading scorer out of action, BNL shrugged it off and decked the Bluejackets with a knockout punch while continuing its dominance of the county rivalry. The Stars went on a devastating 15-1 run, ultimately rolling to a 55-40 victory on Friday night.

Jackson Miracle led a balanced attack with 12 points and sophomore guard Colton Staggs added 10, leading the Stars (9-9) to their 35th consecutive win in the lopsided series, now at 46-1.

Mitchell (3-10 with six straight losses) probably thought BNL was in prime position for an upset. Yes, the Stars had a 29-19 advantage when Leach slumped his shoulders and trudged to the bench after that fourth foul. Yes, the Stars could have lost their identity.

They would not. Staggs took the reins of the team and guided them to a 26-point lead. It was a Staggs-ering run.

“That was nice to see,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “We don’t play a whole lot without Leach. With Leach out, we put the ball in his hands and he did a good job. We need more of that over the next two years and how many games, to take the pressure off Leach. That’s good for the future.”

BNL’s Colten Leach attacks the basket. Leach had 11 points and five steals in the first half.

The immediate future was a little cloudy, with the Bluejackets proving pesky, until the third-quarter explosion. Miracle ignited it with a layup off Kooper Staley penetration, and Staggs slashed the lane for another layup. Miracle cashed in a fast break, Kaedyn Bennett bombed a 3-pointer, and Aden Pemberton dropped an 8-footer in the paint.

“You have to give credit to those guys stepping in there,” Mitchell coach Jackson Ryan said. “Staggs played great tonight, that was a big step for him. They might not be the leading scorer night in and night out, but they stepped up when they needed.”

BNL’s 19-3 blast, capped by driving layups from Ben Cosner and Staggs, gave the Stars their biggest lead at 48-22. The gap was still 52-27 midway through the final period when the Stars prematurely hit the snooze button, surrendering 11 straight points. That cost them style points.

“It was a good win,” Hein said. “It’s a difficult game for our kids, a game they’re supposed to win. I’d like to see us finish it off a little bit, but a win’s a win. We’ll take it any time.”

At first, Mitchell was equal to the challenge. Back-cut layups from Nate Reynolds and Alec Barlow kept the Bluejackets within a single point. Then Leach went to work, scoring the final basket of the first period, starting the second with a steal for breakaway, and spinning through traffic for a 3-point play. Pemberton rebounded his own miss for a score and the first double-digit difference at 21-11.

BNL also unveiled a new-look defense, a trapping 1-3-1 zone – gasp, that four-letter word – that Mitchell struggled to solve.

BNL’s Ben Cosner looks for an opening against Nick Mundy. Cosner scored 8 points.

“We threw that defense in yesterday in practice, and it was pretty effective,” Hein said. “We haven’t played it since I came here. It got us going, sped the game up a little bit and allowed us to get out in transition, forced them into difficult shots.”

Leach had 11 points, all in the first half. He wasn’t needed after that. BNL had only 7 turnovers, although the Stars were only 1-of-15 from 3-point range.

Mitchell didn’t have anyone break into double digits. Nick Mundy, the usual offensive leader, had 8 points but was only 1 of 10 from the field. Connor Fields had 8 points. Kade Wigley, Mitchell’s second-leading scorer, was shut out. BNL took away Mitchell’s best.

“I know this is a big game for the kids,” Ryan said after his first game against his alma mater. “We were pretty fired up, maybe too fired up, but had a great start. I can’t fault the kids’ effort.

“We were a little too passive. I know shots weren’t falling, and some kids that normally knock shots down were a pinch too passive. They did a great job on Mundy. And Nick is a tough kid, he’ll bounce back. It’s a learning experience. Give credit to them. They’re tough. They’re physical.”

Cosner totaled 8 points and did the heavy defensive lifting against Mundy. Leach had five steals.

“A lot of credit to Ben,” Hein said. “He did a good job. That was a key, defending him.”

BNL will be back in action on Tuesday at Loogootee, while Mitchell will tangle with Edgewood on Feb. 19.

BNL’s Aden Pemberton wins a battle for a loose ball. Pemberton came off the bench for 6 points.

MITCHELL BLUEJACKETS (40)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

24 Nick Mundy, f 1-2 1-10 5-6 4 3 8

10 Connor Fields, f 1-1 3-3 1-3 3 1 8

22 Kade Wigley, g 0-2 0-6 0-0 4 3 0

14 Alec Barlow, g 0-0 1-3 4-4 3 4 6

4 Nate Reynolds, g 1-2 3-4 0-0 5 2 7

12 Andrew Shepard 0-0 1-4 0-0 0 0 2

20 Ben Seitzinger 0-1 2-5 0-0 2 0 4

40 Rayce England 1-3 1-3 2-2 1 0 5

15 Juan Asbury 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

35 Trey Craig 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 4-11 12-38 12-15 25 13 40

BEDFORD NL STARS (55)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 0-4 3-7 2-2 5 3 8

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-1 6-10 0-1 0 4 12

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 4-5 3-3 2 4 11

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

22 Colton Staggs, g 0-1 4-7 2-2 3 2 10

25 Josh Blunk 0-0 0-1 0-0 4 1 0

3 Aden Pemberton 0-4 3-8 0-0 4 1 6

15 Kaedyn Bennett 1-2 1-2 2-2 1 1 5

41 Austin Messmore 0-0 0-0 1-2 3 1 1

Totals 1-15 21-44 12-15 25 18 55

Mitchell 9 10 6 15 – 40

Bedford NL 12 17 19 7 – 55

Turnovers – Mitchell 14, BNL 7

Field goal percentage – Mitchell 12-38 (.316); BNL 21-44 (.477)

Free throw percentage – Mitchell 12-15 (.800); BNL 12-15 (.800)

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