Cosner, Leach a dynamic 20 duo as Stars edge North Knox

BICKNELL – BNL senior Ben Cosner rises for a jumper against North Knox. Cosner scored 20 points as the Stars clipped the Warriors 53-49 on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BICKNELL – Ben Cosner took a quick glance at the scoreboard, and the situation was obvious. Twice in the final 10 seconds, he stood alone at the free-throw line, protecting a one-possession lead. On the road. Nothing is tougher.

None of his free throws touched rim. Perfect. Fluid. Swish.

Cosner’s clutch finish and Colten Leach’s back-breaking offensive work in the fourth quarter carried Bedford North Lawerence to a 53-49 victory over North Knox on Tuesday night. Both scored 20 points as the Stars (10-10) ruined Senior Night for the Warriors (10-11) and capped their first visit to North Knox with a momentum win for the fast-approaching postseason.

Leach scored BNL’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter, and Cosner converted the clinching foul shots. Together, they were a dynamic duo.

“It was a combination of the two,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “They had great offensive games. As a whole, as a team we played well. We had good contributions. That’s what we’re looking for this time of the year.”

BNL needed each and every one of them. North Knox, inspired by the senior celebration and looking for the upset in the series debut, had its own double-barrel attack as Holtman Doades and Brayden Thorne shot the Warriors into position for a signature triumph. But on the bottom line, Cosner signed in ink.

“It’s a great win, no question about it,” Hein said. “We could have very well, if we didn’t respond with a positive attitude, gotten beat. We found a way to dig down and played 32 minutes to get a win.”

BICKNELL – BNL’s Colten Leach scores from the lane. Leach had 20 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

BNL controlled the early minutes, bursting to a 10-point lead at 17-7 as Cosner stroked three jumpers, Colton Staggs swished a bomb and Josh Blunk muscled inside for a bucket. Another Staggs trey kept the Stars in 25-18 command at the half.

North Knox made its move in the third quarter as Thorne, a rosy shooter in the corner against BNL’s 1-3-1 trap, drilled two straight, pulling the Warriors even at 29-29. He struck again with a lane drive for an uncontested layup that trimmed BNL’s lead to 35-34.

The next two possessions were huge. Cosner, on the sideline in foul trouble, was inserted after a timeout and busted a 3-pointer from the key for a 38-34 lead at the end of the quarter. BNL started the fourth with a Leach 12-footer.

“Those are big plays on our part,” Hein said. “We knew they would make a run. They did, got back in it., but we found a way.”

Leach was a warrior, scoring from the lane four times. The last one came after Aden Pemberton made a diving, sliding steal at halfcourt, setting up a Leach 8-footer for a 48-41 lead. North Knox came back with Doades’ baseline drive for a 49-46 gap, and the Warriors had a chance after BNL missed a 1-and-1 free throw. But Thorne’s deep and pressured bomb was far shot, and Cosner took over from there.

BICKNELL – BNL’s Kooper Staley lofts a jumper over a defender. Staley scored 5 points.

Cosner, fresh from his career-high 22 points against New Albany, stayed hot, hitting 6 of 7 shots at one point. Leach was equally effective in the final quarter.

“Confidence,” Cosner said. “I’m just feeling it right now. Then they started guarding me hard, and that let Leach do his thing and get some buckets.”

North Knox coach Daniel Crabtree pointed back to the Cosner trey at the end of the third as a key shift point.

“Man, that was huge,” he said. “We had a hand in his face. He’s a great player. That was a matchup problem for us.”

Doades totaled 21 points and Thorne, normally the sixth man for the Warriors, made his Senior Night start count with 17. Together, they were 15 of 28 from the field. Their teammates combined for only three field goals.

“I called him instant offense on the scouting report, and he proved it,” Hein said of Thorne. “He responded. At times we didn’t have an answer for Doades. They shot the ball well, they had kids step up.”

“We knew we had to be disciplined,” Crabtree said. “We hit some big shots, which certainly helped. Unfortunately we couldn’t get over the hump. We were hanging around. I was really proud of our effort.”

BNL will return home for two games to finish the regular season, starting with Jasper on Thursday.

BICKNELL – BNL’s Colton Staggs fires from the corner. Staggs hit two treys in the first half.

BEDFORD NL STARS (53)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 2-4 7-11 4-4 3 3 20

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 0-2 0-0 5 1 0

24 Colten Leach, g 0-0 8-13 4-7 7 4 20

12 Kooper Staley, g 1-1 2-4 0-0 0 0 5

22 Colton Staggs, g 2-3 2-3 0-0 0 1 6

3 Aden Pemberton 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 0

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

15 Kaedyn Bennett 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 5-8 20-34 8-12 16 12 53

NORTH KNOX WARRIORS (49)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

25 Ian Kixmiller, f 0-0 0-1 1-3 2 3 1

20 Holtman Doades, g 2-5 9-18 1-1 4 2 21

23 Brayden Thorne, g 4-7 6-10 1-2 0 3 17

2 Reece Hammelman, g 1-2 1-3 0-0 1 5 3

21 Isaiah Collins, g 0-1 0-1 0-0 3 0 0

35 Rhett Sheren 0-0 1-1 2-2 3 1 4

3 Will Sloan 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 0 3

Totals 8-17 18-35 5-9 15 14 49

Bedford NL 10 15 13 15 – 53

North Knox 5 13 16 15 – 49

Turnovers – BNL 7, North Knox 10

Field goal percentage – BNL 30-24 (.588); North Knox 18-35 (.514)

Free throw percentage – BNL 8-12 (.667); North Knox 5-9 (.556)

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