Big shots in big moments power Stars to OT triumph over Jasper

BNL sophomore Colton Staggs looks for a teammate after winning a scramble for a loose ball. Staggs scored a career-high 14 points as the Stars clipped Jasper 59-55 in overtime on Thursday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – The moment was huge, but not too big for the little guy with enough heart and moxie to take the shot. The significance of the next shot was equally important, but not too big for the senior with the courage to launch it.

Overtime multiples the weight of each possession by a factor of three. Bedford North Lawrence’s Colton Staggs and Ben Cosner stepped on those scales, tipping the outcome to the Stars with the most critical points.

Staggs, a stealthy sophomore, and Cosner stroked key 3-pointers to start the extra period, propelling the Stars to a 59-55 victory over Jasper on Thursday night. Colten Leach scored 19 points as BNL (11-10) won its second straight game and earned more momentum for next week’s sectional.

The late free-throw shooting caused some breathholding, but those two treys were breathless bombs. Staggs and Cosner both finished with 14 points, none more crucial than those deep daggers to give BNL breathing room in the overtime.

The scene was typical of late season Hoosier hysteria: BNL, after rallying from a six-point deficit, had missed the final shot of regulation. The Wildcats, shooting like magicians, were making life miserable. The Stars couldn’t afford to play from behind.

Somebody had to accept the hero’s role. That was Staggs, swishing his jumper at 2:43 for a 53-50 lead. That was Cosner, ripping his bomb from the left corner at 2:12 for a 56-51 advantage. Those were the last BNL buckets as the Stars – shaky at the line – made free throws from that point to put away the Wildcats.

“Huge. Those were both big,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “And they were the type of threes we want, the inside-out threes. They were both good shots, shots we like to take, and both kids stepped up and didn’t hesitate.”

BNL’s Ben Cosner attacks the basket. Cosner scored 14 points.

Jasper (6-16) was the team that couldn’t miss. The Wildcats were an amazing 18 of 25 from the field in regulation, they were 13 of 17 from the line – and lost. That’s hard to explain, except for their 18 turnovers and BNL’s two clutch jumpers.

”You have to give credit to Bedford,” Jasper coach John Goebel said. “When the pressure was on, especially in overtime, they hit back-to-back threes. The game wasn’t anything less than we expected.”

BNL trailed midway through the third quarter, with Jasper converting its first five shots of the second half, at 35-29, still faced a 39-33 gap in the fourth. Leach did a lot of that recovery work, scoring twice from the paint and rescuing an air-ball trey for a go-ahead basket with 1:10 left. Jasper’s Carter Mundy made two free throws for a 50-50 deadlock with 1:03 remaining.

The Stars held possession for the final shot, which Leach took under heavy pressure in the paint. That missed, causing the reset for overtime. After the two treys, Jasper had chances to draw even as BNL went 3 of 8 from the line in the final two minutes. The last opportunity was a missed jumper by Caleb Burger that Staggs rebounded, and his free throw with 16.5 seconds left gave BNL a two-possession advantage.

“A hard-earned win,” Hein said. “We fought, we found a way to win another one. Dug down and had some big contributions. You have to give them a lot of credit. They shot the ball really well from the field, shot the ball really well from the line, yet we found a way to win it. We’ll take a win.”

BNL’s start was solid as Kooper Staley and Aden Pemberton hit back-to-back treys for a 14-7 lead. Jasper answered with 9 straight points, most from point-blank range as BNL’s defense broke down. Cosner’s wing trey and Leach’s steal for a layup gave BNL a 21-18 halftime lead. Jasper had 11 turnovers in the first half.

“We felt like we played well enough in the first half to be up,” Goebel said. “Those killed us.”

BNL’s Colten Leach drives past a Jasper defender. Leach scored 19 points.

Jasper was perfect to start the third quarter, scoring 7 consecutive points for its 35-29 lead. That forced BNL into comeback mode.

“We had trouble defending them on the post, with their physicality and their strength,” Hein said. “That opened up their shooters a little bit.”

Leach had 8 points during the fourth-quarter charge. Staggs posted a new career high (his previous best was 12 against Jennings County), and Cosner continued his hot streak with another quality performance. Pemberton finished with 7 points.

“My good teams have always had balance, five options on the floor to score,” Hein said. “Then they can’t key on one specific guy. We had that kind of balance tonight.

“You could see Staggs’ confidence. He’s had some games recently where he’s played well. The big thing with him is getting him to catch and shoot. He has to have a full arsenal. He did that tonight. That’s the type play we need from him.”

Mundy finished with 15 points, Tanner Erny added 11, and muscle man Gus Heichelbech came off the bench for 8 points and 9 rebounds for the Wildcats.

BNL will close the regular season on Friday night, hosting Evansville North.

BNL’s Kooper Staley absorbs contact while looking for an avenue to the basket.

JASPER WILDCATS (55)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

51 Jace Goodhue, f 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 2 2

15 Carter Mundy, g 1-4 3-7 8-8 1 1 15

5 Isaac Day, g 1-1 2-3 0-1 3 2 5

21 Caleb Burger, g 2-3 4-5 1-1 2 0 11

11 Tanner Erny, g 0-1 3-6 2-2 1 3 8

55 Gus Heichelbech 0-1 4-5 0-1 9 2 8

45 Connor Foley 0-0 2-2 2-4 2 2 6

13 Jack Ahlbrand 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

31 Isaac Heim 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 1 0

23 Spencer Englert 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 4-10 19-30 13-17 20 15 55

BEDFORD NL STARS (59)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 2-3 6-10 0-0 7 4 14

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 1-4 0-0 5 3 2

24 Colten Leach, g 0-1 8-17 3-6 3 4 19

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

22 Colton Staggs, g 2-2 5-5 2-4 2 2 14

3 Aden Pemberton 1-2 2-3 2-5 0 0 7

15 Kaedyn Bennett 0-2 0-2 0-0 0 0 0

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

Totals 6-13 23-43 7-15 18 15 59

Jasper 7 11 19 13 5 – 55

Bedford NL 8 13 12 17 9 – 59

Turnovers – Jasper 18, BNL 8

Field goal percentage – Jasper 19-30 (.633); BNL 23-43 (.535)

Free throw percentage – Jasper 13-17 (.765); BNL 7-15 (.467)

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