By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Remember those classroom cheaters, peering over someone’s shoulder during the quiz? Possible answers written on the arm? Rummaging through the teacher’s desk to get an unauthorized preview of the test? In today’s world, sneaking a peak at Google?
Basketball’s version is the intrasquad scrimmage. Everyone on the floor knows the play (or should), knows the defensive shortcuts (sidestepping a screen, roadblocking the cut) to stop the execution. Cheating is rampant. That makes offensive beauty a little difficult. Been that way since these scrimmages were introduced.
So be it. Bedford North Lawrence’s annual public workout, Monday night’s first look at the rosters for the 2022-23 campaign, was not artistic, not with so many football players still running into hardwood shape, not with so much familiarity coursing through the system. But there were encouraging moments, and a couple of surprises, during the four quarters of varsity competition.
During the first two segments, the varsity slammed the junior varsity 37-8. When the varsity was divided into more equal squads for the final two quarters, the Blue clipped the White 18-13. Colten Leach, just cleared for full-speed scrimmaging after recovering from an offseason injury for the third straight year, scored 13 points against the JV, and Colton Staggs had 7 in the two quarters of split work.
Those two, the scoring leaders from a year ago, are the expected offensive threats. What BNL unveiled was some possible additional firepower and a willingness to play at a quicker pace.
“This team will have more depth,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “We’ll be able to get up and down more, pressure the ball and do some things in transition. I think we can play that way – not just when we’re behind – and pick our spots. We can throw guys out there, play a little faster.
“The minutes we had our main guys together, we played pretty well. When we started playing against each other and split them up evenly, they were cheating plays. It made it difficult.”
Against the JV, Leach did a lot of damage in transition, breaking free for a layup following a Noah Godlevske steal, pulling up for a 15-footer after a turnover, driving to a three-point play. Godlevske (more on that kid later) and Kole Bailey popped treys to cap the first quarter with a 19-3 advantage.
In the second period, more from Leach (feeding Staggs for a sharp fast break, driving for another hoop-and-harm, drilling a 3-pointer) and Godlevske (a beautiful fake and step forward for a 15-footer, a slashing drive between defenders for a tough basket) en route to an 18-5 margin.
“It was good to have Leach out there,” Hein said. “He hasn’t been able to do a whole lot. It will just take some time to get where we want to go with him.”
When the varsity went head to head (minus Leach as a precautionary measure), the scoring became obviously more difficult. Trace Rynders buried a pair of deep bombs, Maddox Ray and Logan Miracle scored off their own misses, and Staggs added three buckets.
“This was competitive,” Staggs said. “We’re all competitive. It’s fun. It’s just to see how we are now, how good of shape we are.”
“We look like we need to get in better shape,” Hein said. “We’re getting there. It’s a work in progress, it will take time.”
The best surprise? The offensive contributions of Godlevske, a junior making his BNL debut. Know that name? He’s the son of the former BNL girls coach, and he can shoot. For a team that averaged only 48 points per game a year ago, that’s a welcome addition. The other most notable factor? BNL’s experience. The starting five returns intact, although there could be some shifting of roles and minutes.
“It’s how together we are,” Staggs said. “We’ve been playing together since we were real little, we’ve all gotten stronger and faster.”
The next step in BNL’s progression will be the IHSAA sanctioned scrimmage with Martinsville on Thursday. There won’t be quite as much ‘cheating ‘that night.
“They haven’t scouted us, they don’t know our stuff,” Hein said. “So can we execute? That’s the thing. The negative is we turn around and play them in the regular season, so we don’t want to show a lot. It’s just to get on the floor and play someone different. These guys are tired of playing against themselves. It’ll be nice to see different faces and see where we stack up.”
Varsity 37, Junior Varsity 8
Varsity – Colton Staggs 6, Colten Leach 13, Kole Bailey 5, Noah Godlevske 7, Kaedyn Bennett 2, Trace Rynders 2, Maddox Ray 2
Junior Varsity – Isaiah Sasser 3, Patric Matson 5
Blue 18, White 13
Blue – Noah Godlevske 5, Trace Rynders 6, Logan Miracle 2, Kole Bailey 2, Patric Matson 3
White – Colton Staggs 7, Maddox Ray 4, Kline Woodward 2