Lovings-Watts plays the hero’s role as Devils deck Stars 44-42 with last-second shot

JEFFERSONVILLE – BNL’s Colten Leach rises for a jumper. Leach scored 14 points, but the Stars suffered a 44-42 loss at Jeffersonville on Thursday night.

By Justin Sokeland


JEFFERSONVILLE – Will Lovings-Watts, the blatantly obvious choice to take the most fateful shot, stepped perfectly into the John Wayne role, the hero Jeffersonville required as the final seconds bled away. To quote the Duke, “You must think I’m a real dangerous man” with all the attention cast his direction.

With the ball in his hands, he was dangerous indeed. And deadly.

Lovings-Watts bounced home a 12-footer in the lane at the buzzer, powering the Red Devils to a thrilling 44-42 comeback victory over Bedford North Lawrence on Thursday night. Lovings-Watts scored 16 points as Jeffersonville erased a 12-point deficit in the second half and broke some hearts with the final bucket.

The final 4.9 seconds unfolded like a Wayne script, with the gallant riding into the sunset. With the Devils owning possession after a timeout, Lovings-Watts took the ball out of bounds on the sideline, found teammate Brandon Rayzer-Moore near midcourt, then took the immediate pass back and attacked the interior of BNL’s zone.

Two steps and one dribble into the lane, he encountered BNL’s Kaedyn Bennett, the collision sending Bennett to the deck. Charge or block? Neither, and Lovings-Watts dropped home the game-winner, roiling it softly over the front of the rim and into the net, a gentle landing for a rough BNL loss.

“Life on the road, sometimes it’s tough,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said.

BNL (8-8, 1-4 in the Hoosier Hills Conference) played brilliant basketball, roaring to a 31-19 lead with the first basket of the third quarter. But the Devils rose from the fire, battling back with a 13-2 run. They took a late 41-40 advantage on a 3-point play from Brenton Moore with 1:51 left, setting the stage for BNL heartache.

The Stars retook the lead on a crafty Colton Staggs lane jumper with 1:21 left, then regained the ball on an illegal screen call on Moore. But sophomore Trace Rynders missed a 1-and-1 free throw with 47 seconds remaining, giving the Devils another chance. And they capitalized with two breaks.

The first was an intentional foul against Bennett as he wrapped up Lovings-Watts to stop an inside basket. Lovings-Watts made one free throw with 25 seconds left, and the Devils held for the last shot. BNL had fouls to give before Jeffersonville would get in the bonus, and the Stars used them – all but one. They still had a foul to give at 4.9, but Hein and his staff opted to play straight up, “in case anything crazy happened,” he said. And that’s always possible. But then the worst happened.

JEFFERSONVILLE – BNL’s Colton Staggs launches a jumper from the baseline. Staggs scored 15 points.

“Any time we need a basket at the end of the game, everybody knows where it’s going,” Jeff coach Andrew Grantz said. “It’s nice to have. I’m glad we made the plays down the stretch. A couple of weeks ago, we probably would not have done the things we needed to do.”

Until the bitter end, BNL was brilliant, especially during a second quarter that was flawless. Colten Leach was electric, scoring at will in the paint as the Devils extended a halfcourt trap and paid a heavy price. Leach dropped an 8-footer, Staggs drained a trey from the key, Bennett worked free for a layup on a pass from Leach, and then Leach closed the half with two 15-footers for a 28-19 lead. Bennett opened the third quarter with a deep wing bomb for the biggest gap.

The Devils adjusted, giving up the trap and switching Lovings-Watts to guard Leach, who had only one basket in the second half. “Leach was tearing us apart,” Grantz said, and he wasn’t wrong.

Lovings-Watts, a Drake recruit, also had three treys – including one that started the Jeff rally, which also featured two baseline baskets by Rayzer-Moore – over the BNL zone. Kobe Stoudemire added 10 points for the Devils (5-8, 2-2).

Staggs totaled 15 points and Leach added 14. The Stars did so many things well (only 7 turnovers against superior athletes and constant harassment). But the cold reality was the end of a modest two-game winning streak and long ride home to contemplate what might have been. Those are still the saddest words.

JEFFERSONVILLE – BNL’s Colten Leach drives against Jeffersonville’s Kobe Stoudemire. Leach had 10 points in the second quarter.

“I thought we played a great game, espioecally in the first half,” Hein said. “We gave everything we had, got ourselves in position to win the game, just did a couple of things wrong here and there and couldn’t catch a break at the end. That’s the way it goes.

“I’m proud of the kids. They played as hard as they could play, executed the game plan exactly. That was our best chance. There’s a tendency that kids get, at all levels, to not keep the pedal to the metal. You have to stay aggressive offensively. You can’t get complacent and try to run the clock out.

“The nice thing is the sun will come up tomorrow and we’ll play again.”

Dawn will send the Stars back on the road for the third leg of their five-game journey, with a visit to Brownstown on Friday night.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

4 Kaedyn Bennett, f 1-1 3-3 0-0 0 3 7

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

22 Colton Staggs, g 1-1 6-9 2-2 1 4 15

1 Trace Rynders, g 0-6 1-7 0-1 3 0 2

2 Colten Leach, g 0-0 6-9 2-4 7 1 14

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

Totals 2-10 18-34 4-7 16 10 42


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

1 Will Lovings-Watts, f 3-4 6-10 1-2 4 1 16

11 Brandon Rayzer-Moore, f 1-4 3-7 1-2 6 2 8

5 Michael Cooper, g 1-5 1-5 0-0 0 3 3

2 Kobe Stoudemire, g 2-5 4-8 0-0 4 3 10

13 Brenton Moore, g 0-1 1-2 1-1 0 3 3

35 Monnie McGee 0-0 1-1 1-1 0 0 3

3 Isaiah Flowers 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 1 0

0 Tre Singleton 0-0 0-1 1-2 2 0 1

24 Shawn Boyd 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 P.J. Douglas 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 7-19 16-34 5-8 18 13 44

Bedford NL 13 15 6 8 – 42

Jeffersonville 12 7 13 12 – 44

Turnovers – BNL 7, Jeffersonville 12

Field goal percentage – BNL 18-34 (.529); Jeffersonville 16-34 (.470)

Free throw percentage – BNL 4-7 (.571); Jeffersonville 5-8 (.625)