Stars pressing the right buttons as they prepare for journey to Floyd Central

BNL junior guard Noah Godlevske and the surging Stars will visit Floyd Central on Thursday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – When Bedford North Lawrence started this season 0-2 – stumbling from the gate for the fourth straight year, thanks to tough openers – the panic button went unpressed. That would have been the overreaction of the faithless, of the pessimistic, of the gloomy defeatist.

Rather than pounding the alarm, the Stars started hitting the right buttons. Look at them now.

After a second straight double weekend sweep, after six victories in the last seven games, BNL has hit its stride, recovering from the early missteps to stand tall (at least as tall as a team that lacks height can) at 10-5. Only once in the last 12 years as BNL reached this point of the regular season with that quality record. The Stars are still a factor in the Hoosier Hills Conference race.

The Stars won’t scare anyone with their athleticism or size. They don’t pass the quick eye test when they walk in the gymnasium. But know this: no one is having fun playing them right now. They pass the on-court test of toughness, of competing with a style that demands superior discipline. With each win, the aura of confidence expands.

“The kids are enjoying themselves, they’re having fun, and we’re playing with a ton of confidence,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “To win two double weekends in a row is very impressive. We were on the road three of those four games. Those are impressive wins. We’re starting to play the best basketball we’ve played with this group of kids, exactly at the right time.

“It’s maturity. We’re bigger and stronger, and we have more weapons than we’ve had before. That makes a big difference.”

BNL will continue its road journeys this week, starting with a perilous trip to Floyd Central (4-11) on Thursday night. The Highlanders, even with the underwhelming record, are exactly the type of opponent the Stars have battled all season: more size, more apparent athletic ability with a star player. Nobody promised a rose garden.

“I know their record isn’t great, but they’re a lot better than their record indicates,” Hein said. “It’s tough at Floyd, we all know that. Floyd is a tough place to win.”

The concern starts with 6-5 Floyd senior forward Caleb Washington, a four-year veteran and previous First Teamer in the conference who’s averaging 18 points per game. He’s the lone returning starter, although senior guard Tevi Ali (who will play college basketball at IU Southeast) has been a solid leader in the backcourt while contributing 12 points per outing.

Senior standout Colten Leach leads BNL in scoring (17.7) and rebounding (9.4).

“Washington started as a low-post player, and now they’ve moved him out,” Hein said. “He’s handling the ball, shooting the three well, he’s a tough matchup. They depend on him to do about everything.”

Floyd also features a new coach in Greg Walters, who spent five seasons as an assistant under former boss Todd Sturgeon. Walters was also a head coach at North Harrison (five years) and an assistant with the Cougars before returning to Floyd and taking over the defending league and sectional champions.

“I see a lot of the same stuff,” Hein said. “They run a lot of the same things, I don’t see a big change in what they’re doing. He took over a program that Todd led very well for a long period of time, and he’s trying to do the same things. The only difference is the kids.”

The Stars will counter with senior standout Colten Leach (17.7 points, 9.4 boards as BNL’s newest member of the 1K career club) and point guard Colton Staggs (10.6). BNL’s key has been a third contributor, and lately that has often been junior Noah Godlevske (9.0) as he’s been in double digits six times.

BNL’s other key stats are points allowed (47.6) and turnovers (committing only 7.9 per game). The magic number is 50 points. Only one opponent in the last seven has topped that, and that was the lone defeat (Jennings County). BNL has been in double figures with turnovers only three times (critical when playing the spread, deliberate pace) all season.

“BNL is a very disciplined, senior-led team that plays to its strengths,” Walters said. “They have multiple players that shoot well from three. They are well coached and will be a tough matchup.”

The Stars are 3-1 in the league, which makes this conference road battle an important one. No.9 Jennings (15-1 overall) leads the league at 3-0 but still has road tests at Jeffersonville and New Albany ahead. BNL will need to win out and get some help to earn a share of the title.

“Right now, they’re the top team in the conference and sectional,” Hein said. “But you never know what will happen. Obviously we have to depend on someone else to knock them off, and take care of business. We’re still sitting there in the race.”

The Highlanders won last year’s clash 53-36 as Washington scored 12 points and Brady Moore totaled 10. Floyd was terrific from the floor, hitting 19 of 29 shots. Leach had 14 points for the Stars.

BNL’s Colton Staggs ran into Floyd’s Caleb Washington during last year’s Floyd win at BNL.


When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 10-5 (3-1 in HHC); Floyd Central 4-11 (1-3 in HHC)

Sagarin ratings: BNL 81.05; Floyd Central 75.74

Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Highlanders powered to a 53-36 victory. Caleb Washington had 12 points and Brady Moore added 10 for Floyd, which hit 19 of 29 shots. Colten Leach had 14 points for the Stars.

Previous game story: Floyd Central muscles to HHC title

Game notes: Floyd Central is the defending HHC champion. New head coach Greg Walters previously coached at North Harrison, and he also worked as an assistant coach for five years under Todd Sturgeon at Floyd.

Starting lineups

Bedford NL Stars

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.

Floyd Central Highlanders

F – Caleb Washington 6-5 Sr.

F – Brock Conrad 6-5 So.

G – Tevi Ali 6-0 Sr.

G – Austin Caldwell 6-2 Jr.

G – Tre Walters 6-1 Jr.