Stars slide on the learning curve as Terre Haute North escapes with 45-37 victory

BNL’s Colton Staggs leads the chase for a loose ball against Terre Haute North. Staggs scored 12 points, but the Patriots prevailed 45-37 on Saturday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Winning time separates the sheep from the goats, identifies the strong willed, exposes the inexperienced. The learning curve is sharp and unforgiving for a young, limited team trying to navigate difficult turns and twists at a velocity greater than the suggested speed. Bedford North Lawrence, with victory at the finish line within sight, slid and crashed on one of those.

Three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, down one point, three straight turnovers. There was not a fourth chance, as Terre Haute North got two senior-profiled plays from star Mark Hankins to keep the frustrated Stars from the lead, and ultimately from victory.

With BNL’s hot breath on his team’s neck, Hankins made a brilliant cross-court pass to teammate Isaac Ross for a clutch 3-pointer, then converted a 3-point play that was the difference as the Patriots escaped BNL Fieldhouse with a 45-37 triumph on Saturday night. Hankins had 18 points as North (3-0) ended BNL’s four-game winning streak in the series and kept the Stars winless.

BNL (0-3) got agonizingly close, which only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and cornhole. The Stars had trailed all night since hitting the first shot, they pulled even once in the third quarter, they clawed within 34-33 and had the multiple chances to take control. Veteran ballclubs would know how to capitalize. BNL is not that, not yet. Suffering this type of pain will help the Stars get to that point, but it does not lessen the present injury.

“Any time you lose, you second-guess yourself,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said, wishing he had called a timeout during the scuffling. “We had opportunities to get something done and find a way to win. Terre Haute North made the plays at the right times.

“We had some chances, didn’t execute. The kids keep fighting, they’re doing everything they can at this point to put ourselves in position to win games, with a limited squad. It’s a work in progress, as long as they keep working hard and don’t give up. And these kids aren’t quitters. Things will, in time, get better.”

Things got better this time, in comparison to the loss against Bloomington South only 24 hours earlier. After a rocky start, missing seven straight shots after Trace Rynders buried the first jumper, the Stars took off with reserve Kole Bailey’s rebound basket, with a Jett Jones layup off an inbound set, with another Rynders bomb. Trailing 20-14 at the half, they scrambled even as Colton Staggs sliced the lane for a layup and scored off an inbound lob. Bailey cut to a 3-point play, Kaedyn Bennett swished a bomb, and Staggs converted two free throws for a 27-27 deadlock.

BNL sophomore Trace Rynders fights to keep control of the ball in traffic. Rynders scored a career-high 10 points.

The first North dagger was the final flurry of the third quarter. Rynders ripped through the paint in the closing seconds but got his shot rejected. The Patriots found Hankins on the left wing in transition, and his trey at the buzzer opened a 32-27 lead.

After BNL recovered from that blow with driving baskets from Rynders and Staggs, the last creating the 34-33 difference, the Stars kicked away the next three possessions. Then came the Hankins dish to Ross for the second dagger. Then came Hankins with a baseline drive for a hoop plus the harm for a 40-35 advantage. The rest of the North work came at the foul line.

Hankins, normally a perimeter threat, went to work in the paint, taking advantage of his 6-5 lanky frame against defenders giving away 6-plus inches. Ross finished with 13 points off the bench, and Colin Frank grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We did enough to survive,” North coach Todd Woelfle said. “Any time you win here, it’s a very good win. It was nice to break that streak and get a good win. It was ugly, but I would rather win ugly than lose.

BNL’s Dylan Nikirk collides with North’s Isaac Ross during a drive to the basket.

“For many of our kids, because of the season last year with fans not being in the stands (due to virus restrictions), this was their first true road game. So for us to win in that environment, where it got loud, it was good for this group.”

Staggs paced BNL (0-3) with 12 points, Rynders totaled a career-high 10, and Bailey was a spark off the bench with 5 points. Even with all the positive points, BNL still struggled to score points and shot 36 percent (13 of 36, including 3 of 14 from long range).

“We’ve had five quarters (in three games) of single digits,” Hein said. “Those kill you, those are hard to make up. There’s no hiding the fact we’re struggling on the offensive end right now. It’s been apparent. In time we’ll figure that out. We’re putting so much pressure on our defense because of the inability to score. That will eventually change. The cellophane bridge will eventually dissipate.

“We’ll keep plugging along, One of these nights, we’ll be talking about a W instead of an L.”

BNL will return to action on Friday, hosting Columbus East in the Hoosier Hills Conference opener.

BNL coach Jeff Hein applauds his team’s defensive effort.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Colin Frank, f 0-0 2-5 0-4 11 1 4

20 Mark Hankins, f 2-4 5-10 6-8 2 2 18

14 Bryson Carpenter, g 0-1 0-1 0-0 1 3 0

23 Alex Ross, g 1-1 1-2 2-2 2 0 5

24 Damon Sturm, g 0-1 0-2 0-0 1 1 0

32 Isaac Ross 2-3 3-5 5-6 2 2 13

40 Ethan Scott 0-0 1-3 0-0 1 1 2

10 Chris Owens 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 1 3

30 Bryce Maxwell 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

33 Jaden Wayt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 6-11 13-30 13-18 24 11 45


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

4 Kaedyn Bennett, f 1-4 1-4 3-3 5 4 6

40 Jett Jones, f 0-0 1-5 0-0 2 1 2

22 Colton Staggs, g 0-3 4-12 4-7 3 3 12

1 Trace Rynders, g 2-6 4-10 0-0 2 5 10

10 Dylan Nikirk, g 0-0 0-1 0-0 2 2 0

14 Kole Bailey 0-1 2-3 1-1 4 3 5

20 Dylan Endris 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 2

24 Cruz Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

23 Memphis Louden 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

31 Logan Miracle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 Maddox Ray 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 3-14 13-36 8-11 21 18 37

TH North 11 9 12 13 – 45

Bedford NL 4 10 13 10 – 37

Turnovers – TH North 15, BNL 12

Field goal percentage – TH North 13-30 (.433); BNL 13-36 (.361)

Free throw percentage – TH North 13-18 (.722); BNL 8-11 (.727)