By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – With one glass-shattering, game-disrupting, budget-busting dunk, Jack Benter became southern Indiana’s king of viral videos. He claimed the Iron Throne of Internet clicks, thus earning a new title worthy of Westeros and his majestic fame.
He’s now Benter of House Brownstown, the First of His Name, Breaker of Backboards, Recruit of Purdue, Scorer of Points, the Unstoppable, the Prince of the Great Glass Saga.
Benter was already must-see basketball, a prolific scorer and future Boilermaker, a 2024 Mr. Basketball candidate. Then he soared to greater fame with one thunderous slam that destroyed a backboard, with a video clip that swept across Tik Tok (so now even the Chinese know about him), YouTube, Facebook and every other social media app.
Are the backboards at Bedford North Lawrence safe? Probably. Are the Stars safe? Possibly not, when Benter leads the Class 2A No.6 Braves in BNL Fieldhouse to face one of the region’s hottest teams on Friday night.
When Benter powered past Silver Creek defenders for that now-famous two-handed dunk, the glass exploded (costing the school thousands of dollars to replace), he crashed to the court (cutting his hand in the shards as he landed) and the game had to be postponed. It was a fluke circumstance.
“It was one of those freak things,” Brownstown coach David Benter, also the dunker’s father, said. “You don’t know what to do. It’s not in the coaching manual, how to plan for that.”
There’s nothing fluky about his game. That’s the real danger. Benter averages 30.4 points, attracts obvious defensive attention away from his teammates. He’s a 6-5 scoring machine, who has already erupted for 99 points in back-to-back games while he rewrote the school record, and there’s not much in the coaching manual on how to stop that.
“He’s really good,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “He’s going to Purdue, and there’s a reason. He can shoot it from about anywhere, and he’s a great passer. He’s really good. Any kid that can get 99 in two nights, it says a lot.”
Now there’s more to the Braves (14-4) than their one-click wonder. Junior guard Parker Hehman (12.2) recently shattered the school record with 12 treys in one game. Sophomore forward Chace Coomer (10.5) and 6-7 sophomore Colby Hall (9.8) added talent when they transferred from Scottsburg last year.
With all that firepower, it’s no wonder Brownstown ranks third in the state in scoring at 71.7.
“The rest of our team has shot the ball really well,” said Benter the elder. “We have a lot of guys who can shoot and score. We’ve seen pretty much every defense imaginable. Some teams have played us straight up, some teams have sent two or three guys at Jack, which opens up other things. The thing I like about our team in the unselfishness. All four of our leading scorers have had big games.
“Jack is better physically in the last year. The game has slowed down for him. His skill has always been there, but he’s gotten stronger and more athletic.”
The issue becomes how to approach the whole team, not just Benter. Play man-to-man, contain Benter as much as possible (he got 51 against Austin, don’t forget), and not leave others open? Send multiple defenders at the star, hoping the rest miss? It seems neither option is palatable.
“If you put too much on him, Hehman hits 12 3-pointers,” Hein said. “They hit 22 threes in one game. We have to be able to defend all of them. They don’t have guys to back off and not worry about. They have guys who can score, and Benter will find them.”
Sounds impossible? Brownstown faces its own problem with the Stars (13-5). Colten Leach (18.1), Colton Staggs (10.8) and Noah Godlevske (10.6) give the Braves plenty of headaches. BNL has won seven straight games and nine of its last 10 outings.
“They’re better, the cast around Leach and Staggs is better,” Benter said. “They are playing extremely well right now. It will be a real challenge for us coming over here. They’re hard to guard. They want to slow us down, spread us out. We’ll have to go out on the floor and guard. We have to respect five guys on the floor at all times. There’s not a lot of margin for error.
“We have to make sure we don’t have nights where we get careless with the basketball or get careless on the defensive end.”
Brownstown won last year’s clash 75-59, with Benter scoring 28 points and Carter Waskom adding 17. Leach torched the Braves for 31 points while Staggs contributed 19. BNL, after falling behind by 18 in the second half, battled within 59-57 in the fourth quarter.
BROWNSTOWN at BNL
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Brownstown 14-4, ranked No.6 in Class 2A; BNL 13-5
Sagarin ratings: Brownstown 88.41; BNL 83.98
Last meeting: Last year at Brownstown, Jack Benter scored 28 points as the Braves pulled away late for a 75-59 win. Colten Leach had 31 points for the Stars.
Previous game story: That’s a fact, Jack!
Game notes: Brownstown ranks third in the state in scoring at 71.7 points per game.
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.
F – Chace Coomer 6-4 So.
F – Jakob Arthur 6-3 Sr.
C – Colby Hall 6-7 So.
G – Jack Benter 6-5 Jr.
G – Parker Hehman 6-1 Jr.