That’s a fact, Jack! Benter, No.11 Braves win shootist duel with Leach, Stars

BROWNSTOWN – BNL’s Colten Leach drives against Brownstown’s Carson Darlage. Leach scored a career-high 31 points, but the Braves topped the Stars 70-59 on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BROWNSTOWN – When two unstoppable forces collide, if that’s scientifically possible, the energy from the shock wave would destroy everything in the blast radius. Talk about a Big Bang theory. Total obliteration. And that was the aftermath of the basketball clash between two dynamic scorers on Friday night.

Brownstown sophomore Jack Benter, who will be wearing a major next-level uniform in a couple of years, was sensational, Bedford North Lawrence junior Colten Leach was even better as they totally destroyed defenders. Nothing left but ashes and aches, the aroma of burnt nylon and a second-straight road loss for the weary Stars.

Benter, the son of the Brownstown coach who’s growing vertically almost as quickly as his basketball IQ is expanding, scored 28 points as the Braves, ranked No.11 in Class 3A, shot down BNL 70-59. Carter Waskom, almost overlooked during the scoring firestorm around him, had critical fourth-quarter points and totaled 17, helping Brownstown (16-3) end a three-game skid in the series.

Leach, a connoisseur of the paint, exploded for a career-high 31 points and led a furious BNL charge from an 18-point deficit to a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter. But the Stars (8-9 and playing their third game in four days) ran out of gas near the finish line.

The spotlight was dominated by the Benter-Leach duel. This was BNL’s first look at the budding phenom. Last year’s game was cancelled, and that Benter was a scrawny freshman who roamed near the 3-point line. He’s now a man-child, having grown 5 inches – imagine the family food bill during that spurt – and matured into a 6-5, three-level weapon. The volleyball line on the court should be renamed the Benter Line, that’s his range, but his game is much more. Post, pass, drive and launch, all phases were on display. That’s a fact, Jack.

“Benter is the real deal,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “He’s good. I thought we had pretty good defense on him. He still got 28.” And that’s his scoring average this season. No wonder he’s being invited to watch Div. I games from the front row. Look out, West Lafayette.

BROWNSTOWN – BNL’s Colton Staggs drives into the teeth of the Brownstown defense. Staggs scored 19 points.

Leach was equally indefensible, powering through the lane for baskets in the gut of the defense. His shot chart looked like buck-shot blast in the 8-12 feet range. “We had trouble keeping Leach out of the paint,” Brownstown coach Dave Benter said. “They’ve got two guys (including Colton Staggs, who had 19 points) who are really savvy with the ball and tough to keep out of the lane.”

Lost in all that ammo explosion was the outcome of the team contest, not just the h-o-r-s-e duel between the stars. Two key spans tipped victory Brownstown’s direction. The first was BNL’s 0-for-7 shooting slump to start the second half, when the Braves blitzed to a 46-28 advantage and threatened to light the torch on a blowout. The second was the final two minutes, when Waskom drove for a 3-point play, turned a steal into a breakaway, and got free against the press for a layup and a safety zone after the Stars had scrambled within 59-57.

“That’s been our thing,” Benter the elder said. “We get real complacent at times. That’s on me as much as them. It’s happened several times where we have a decent lead and relax. Our guard play starting getting nonchalant and we lost our energy defensively. Waskom was kind of quiet and picked things up.“

How did BNL come back? Leach, of course. He scored from the lane – not once, not twice, but four straight times. Quincy Pickett, a freshman making a rare varsity appearance, dropped a 3-pointer and Houston Corbin converted a layup off a Leach steal that made it 50-44 with 6:31 left. Another surge, with another Pickett bomb, with Staggs going coast-to-coast with a rebound for a 3-point play, with a Leach transition basket, got BNL to 59-57. Then the fuel gauge hit E, and the decision hit L – as in lost. The Stars couldn’t add another bucket from that point.

BROWNSTOWN – BNL’s Colten Leach rises in the paint for a close-range basket,

BNL had two problems. First, stopping Brownstown. That’s only the second time any opponent has scored 70 this season, only the fifth time in Hein’s three years. Second, getting contributions from somebody else other than a guard named Colten (either spelling). With starter Kaedyn Bennett sidelined with an injury, the options were limited.

“I’m proud of the effort,” Hein said. “Leach was really good. Between him and Staggs, they had 50 points. We have to get some help from other places, and we’re not getting it all the time.

“We struggled to stop them. They’re good. We had to try to outscore them, and we’re not able to do that. We made a lot of mistakes defensively, but they make you do that. As soon as you go to help, they do a great job of passing the ball to the open man.”

Give that credit to Benter and the Brownstown big men. Benter is polished with his jumper, skilled with court vision.

“He’s really smart,” his father said. “He sees the floor really well. He brings a lot of defensive attention, which is good for our team.”

The Stars won’t get much time to rest. They’ll continue their five-game road trip at Mitchell on Tuesday.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

14 Kole Bailey, f 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

34 Jett Jones, f 0-0 0-0 0-0 7 3 0

22 Colton Staggs, g 0-2 6-13 7-7 2 5 19

1 Trace Rynders, g 0-1 0-2 0-0 2 0 0

2 Colten Leach, g 0-2 13-28 5-5 5 4 31

5 Houston Corbin 0-2 1-4 1-2 3 5 3

10 Dylan Nikirk 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 09

3 Quincy Pickett 2-3 2-3 0-0 2 0 6

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

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

Totals 2-11 22-51 13-14 22 19 59


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

23 Carson Darlage, f 0-0 1-1 8-8 5 2 10

34 Aidan Schroer, f 0-0 2-3 0-0 6 4 4

14 Jack Benter, g 3-11 11-24 3-3 6 3 28

30 Carter Waskom, g 0-3 6-12 5-6 4 4 17

10 Parker Hehman, g 0-2 1-4 0-0 1 1 2

32 Jakob Arthur 0-2 2-4 1-3 2 0 5

24 Levi Stahl 0-0 2-2 0-0 2 0 4

33 Bryce Neal 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

22 Gregory Hutcheson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

42 Jaden Disque 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 Caiden Gwin 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

20 Hudson Fritz 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 3-18 25-50 17-20 30 14 70

Bedford NL 12 12 13 22 – 59

Brownstown 18 15 15 22 – 70

Turnovers – BNL 8, Brownstown 9

Field goal percentage – BNL 22-51 (.431); Brownstown 25-50 (.500)

Free throw percentage – BNL 13-14 (.928); Brownstown 17-20 (.850)