By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence has never won at Silver Creek, and there’s a reason for that. The Dragons are usually as tough as the name implies. Hard scales, breathing fire, fearsome roars.
Time marches on, the powerful Div. I athletes that left charred damage in their wake and carried Silver Creek to the upper echelon of Class 3A have finally departed, but that doesn’t mean the Dragons have lost their ability to cause destruction. In fact, they’ll have a familiar face at the point of attack when they renew the series with the Stars.
Kaden Oliver, who led Madison to a win over BNL last year with 25 points, transferred to Silver Creek in the middle of last season. He’s now quite comfortable in the new castle, averaging 17.8 points per game. Slaying this foe and ending the road streak will require containing that main weapon.
“Kaden has been great for us,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said. “We don’t necessarily consider him ‘new’ because he has been with us practicing since January. He just wasn’t given eligibility until later. He has fit in seamlessly with us since then. He has provided leadership, experience and a nice skill set that leads us into every game. I think he’s one of the better players in our part of the state.”
The supporting cast is younger but still gifted. Freshman guard Kason Daeger (12.8) has made an immediate impact, and 6-6 sophomore forward Walker Hoffman is contributing 7.0 as the Dragons have gotten off to a strong 3-1 start (heading into Friday’s night clash with Jeffersonville).
“Kason has the potential to be one of the better scorers that I’ve gotten to coach at Silver Creek,” Hoffman said. “He can score quick and in bunches. He is a committed player who puts tons of time into his game.”
The Stars won last year’s encounter 64-51, with Kaedyn Bennett scoring 17 points and Colten Leach adding 13, with Colton Staggs collecting 11 rebounds. Branden Northern (later an Indiana All-Star) had 27 points.
But BNL’s four previous visits to Silver Creek have not ended well, with the Dragons winning by an average of 18.3 points. Only one contest was competitive.
“I expect BNL to be a tough game,” Hoffman said. “They could be the most experienced team we play this year, considering they have everyone back. Leach and Staggs are very good and are surrounded by skilled shooters. Coach (Jeff) Hein does a great job. I think they have a very legitimate chance to win the sectional.”
“It’s a tough place to play, it’s a tough place to win,” Hein said. “We’ll have to play really well. We know that. Any time you go on the road, it’s difficult. It’s something we’ll have to overcome. Oliver is really good, just a good player. He basically beat us last year at Madison.”
BNL at SILVER CREEK
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: BNL 1-2 (vs Madison on Friday); Silver Creek 3-1 (vs. Jeffersonville on Friday)
Sagarin ratings: BNL 74.09; Silver Creek 74.33
Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Stars posted a 64-51 victory. Kaedyn Bennett had 17 points for BNL. Branden Northern had 27 points for the Dragons.
Previous game story: Undaunted BNL chooses the path
Game notes: Silver Creek leads the series 6-2. BNL has never won at Silver Creek. The Dragons won the Class 3A state championship in 2021.
F – Kaedyn Bennett 6-2 Sr.
F – Colten Leach 6-2 Sr.
G – Colton Staggs 6-0 Sr.
G – Trace Rynders 5-9 Jr.
G – Noah Godlevske 5-8 Jr.
Silver Creek Dragons
F – Walker Hoffman 6-6 So.
F – Hayden Gerten 6-2 Jr.
G – Kaden Oliver 6-2 Sr.
G – Kason Daeger 6-2 Fr.
G – Nate Davidson 6-1 Jr.