By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The first trip to unknown, unfamiliar territory is always done with caution, with tentative steps and vigilance of the potential dangers.
That’s Bedford North Lawrence’s mindset as the Stars make their first appearance at Evansville Memorial for a Saturday matinee meeting.
While BNL has historically made many journeys to the Pocket City, this is the debut on Memorial’s home floor. BNL coach Jeff Hein, who coached at Boonville, Bosse and Vincennes Lincoln before arriving to guide the Stars, has made many trips to this unfriendly destination. He is sounding the alarm bell.
“It’s an afternoon game, on a Saturday, and going down there, it’s a tough place to go win,” Hein said. “No matter if they have two wins or 15, it’s a tough place to win. We’ll have to have our A game.”
Memorial (7-7) is coming off a four-game road trip and has lost five of its last six games after a strong start. The Tigers will feature offensive balance with senior Justin Waiz (12.4 points, 7.7 rebounds), junior Connor Agler (11.6 points) and senior Caleb Stewart (10.5). Junior point guard Jace Graham, the son of former Floyd Central star and 1989 Mr. Basketball Pat Graham, runs the attack.
The Stars won last year’s clash at BNL Fieldhouse, playing superb defense in the second half while caging the Tigers 54-40. Brayton Bailey had 22 points, Ben Cosner hit 4 treys en route to 18, and BNL allowed only two fields goals in the second half.
“Defense been our strong point,” Hein said. “Down there, it will be difficult to do that. They’re more well rounded this year.”
Memorial features a new coach in Heath Howington, who succeeded successful veteran Rick Wilgus. Howington coached at North Posey for nine seasons.
“I don’t think the style has changed a lot,” Hein said. “They’re really aggressive in their man-to-man defense, they’ll compact the lane.”
Both teams are in rebound mode after tough losses on Thursday. The Stars dropped a 61-38 decision at Floyd Central, while the Tigers suffered a 68-62 setback at Evansville Reitz.
BNL at EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Records: BNL 7-9; Evansville Memorial 7-7
Sagarin ratings: BNL 73.49; Evansville Memorial 65.72
Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Stars prevailed 54-40. Brayton Bailey had 22 points and Ben Cosner totaled 18 for BNL. Connor Quick had 13 points for the Tigers.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Ben Cosner 6-3 Sr.
F – Jackson Miracle 6-5 Sr.
G – Colten Leach 6-2 So.
G – Kooper Staley 6-1 Sr.
G – Colton Staggs 5-10 So.
Evansville Memorial Tigers
F – Justin Waiz 6-1 Sr.
F – Caleb Stewart 6-3 Sr.
C – Evan Harding 6-5 Jr.
G – Connor Agler 5-11 Jr.
G – Jace Graham 5-11 Jr.