BNL sputters as Swope swoops in late to ignite Castle’s win in Bush Classic

BNL’s Kooper Staley challenges Castle’s Isaiah Swope during Wednesday’s final game in the Danny Bush Classic. Staley scored 17 points, but Swope ignited the Knights with 19 points as Castle prevailed 54-42.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – With the gas tank dry, with Bedford North Lawrence’s offense sputtering from a lack of fuel, Castle sensed the vulnerability and Swope-d in to claim victory.

As the Stars stagnated and staggered, Castle senior star Isaiah Swope swooped and pounced, igniting a 15-2 burst that powered the Knights past BNL in the final game of the Danny Bush Classic on Wednesday night.

Swope, a shifty and blink-quick guard, scored 19 points as Castle (2-3) raced past the leg-dead Stars 54-42 to win the BNL half of the tournament (originally an 8-team event over two days before splitting the field in half and sending the other four teams to Bloomington North). Zeke Niehaus and Cole Simmons hit huge 3-pointers to start the deciding run, and Swope was the finisher with three unstoppable drives through traffic.

BNL (3-3) couldn’t summon the energy to keep up. The Stars could see the finish line, heading into the fourth quarter with the lead and a chance for a fourth consecutive win, but never got there. Two weeks off, and a morning triumph over Scottsburg, drained BNL, which had only one field goal during a 10-minute span.

“We got to standing a little bit,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “I don’t know if it was being tired, their defense bothered us and we didn’t handle it very well.

“We missed a couple of layups, had a couple of turnovers, they hit a couple of threes. It reminded me a lot of the Bloomington North game (in the season opener), where we were in great position to win late and just couldn’t finish it off.”

BNL certainly had its opportunity after a 9-0 blast in the third quarter, a clinic on how to drive and dish to an open teammate, erased Castle’s lead. The Knights had trailed only once during the first 22 minutes, but Jackson Miracle personally took care of that with three straight layups.

BNL’s Ben Cosner drives the baseline as Castle’s Caleb Niehaus looks to stop his progress. Cosner scored 6 points.

Not that Miracle did all the work. He just gathered passes from Aden Pemberton, Kooper Staley and Ben Cosner on consecutive possessions, scoring from point-blank range as BNL rumbled to a 35-32 lead.

That’s when the gauge hit the red line. No more gas. Not a drop.

Niehaus got free for a corner trey to put Castle back in front early in the fourth, and Simmons followed with a wing bomb. And as BNL missed its first six shots of the final period, Swope went to work in the paint, slithering and shaking his way to the rim.

“Swope is a good player, hard to keep in front of you,” Hein said. “You have to give them some credit. They hit some shots.”

Yes, the Knights finally found the range after missing 8 straight from long range in the second half.

“Believe it or not, we have really good 3-point shooters,” Castle coach Brian Gibson said. “And they actually made them.

“You have to give something up. Either you clog it up and stop Isaiah from penetrating, or you let him penetrate and get layups. They kind of got sucked in, and we hit some big shots.”

Staley scored 17 points for the Stars, the bulk of those in the first half. Miracle had 8 points. The rest of the cast went 6 for 24 from the floor. After Colten Leach dropped a 10-footer in the lane to cap the third-quarter surge, Pemberton had BNL’s only basket (at the 2:45 mark of the fourth) during the next 10 minutes.

BNL coach Jeff Hein discusses a call with an official.

The Stars also aided their own demise with 17 turnovers, another sign of the mind being willing but the flesh being weak from fatigue.

“Live ball turnovers kill you,” Hein said. “That changes the game real quick. The legs were not fresh. I knew it would be a difficult test.”

Niehaus and Simmons finished with 9 points each as Castle won back-to-back games on the day. Those were much needed after the 0-3 start.

“Our guys weren’t getting nervous, because there’s too much confidence – dare I say, arrogance – with that senior group,” Gibson said. “They knew they would be fine. But sooner or later, put up or shut up. I don’t want to hear how good you are. Show me. And they did.”

BNL will return to action on Saturday, visiting Class 3A power Silver Creek.

Milan 77, Scottsburg 62 – After battling to a 40-40 deadlock late in the first half, the Indians (3-4) pulled away in the consolation game.

Peyton Wert had 23 points for Milan, Carsyn Ascherman and Adam Norman totaled 16 each, and Josh Clark had 15.

Treyton Owens paced the Warriors (2-7) with 18 points, Hayden Cutter finished with 16 and Kaden Raichel added 10.

Castle’s Bob Nunge grabs a rebound in front of BNL’s Josh Blunk.


3s FGs FT R F Pts

30 Bob Nunge, f 1-6 2-7 3-4 3 1 8

54 Cole Simmons, f 2-2 2-2 3-4 2 3 9

40 Caleb Niehaus, g 0-1 0-2 0-0 5 3 0

24 Zeke Niehaus, g 2-4 3-6 1-2 2 1 9

1 Isaiah Swope, g 0-5 8-14 3-4 2 3 19

55 Dylan Watson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 Jackson Mitchell 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 1 3

44 Max Moore 0-0 3-3 0-1 3 1 6

25 Weston Aigner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

31 Drew Behny 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

521 Cameron Gaw 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 6-19 19-35 10-15 18 11 54


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Ben Cosner, f 2-5 2-10 0-0 3 3 6

31 Jackson Miracle, f 0-0 4-4 0-0 5 2 8

24 Colten Leach, g 0-1 2-8 2-4 4 5 6

12 Kooper Staley, g 4-9 6-11 1-1 2 4 17

3 Aden Pemberton, g 0-0 1-2 0-0 1 1 2

25 Josh Blunk 0-0 0-0 1-2 3 1 1

22 Colton Staggs 0-2 1-4 0-0 1 2 2

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

41 Austin Messmore 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

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

Totals 6-17 16-39 4-7 22 18 42

Castle 19 9 6 20 – 54

Bedford NL 12 11 12 7 – 42

Turnovers – Castle 11, BNL 17

Field goal percentage – Castle 19-35 (.543); BNL 16-39 (.410)

Free throw percentage- Castle 10-15 (.667); BNL 4-7 (.571)