By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Asking questions is the source of all knowledge, and Bedford North Lawrence has a lot to answer. According to American author Brandon Sanderson, If nobody asked questions, we would never learn anything.
The Stars started the process of responding to the multiple queries about their future and potential for the upcoming campaign during Monday night’s annual intrasquad scrimmage. Most of the time, these glorified public practice sessions reveal little valuable information. But with so many top-to-bottom changes in the program, this version was different. And enlightening.
Questions come in six forms: who, what, when, where, why and how. Each one applies to BNL as it prepares for the 2023-24 season. This scrimmage, two quarters of varsity action with equally divided units, provided insight to the correct answers, although this was more like a practice quiz. The Stars passed this one with ease. The real test comes in eight days.
Whoever divvied the roster into the two teams should take a bow, because the workout ended with a 30-30 deadlock. Patric Matson paced the White squad with 23 points, while Noah Godlevske buried five treys for his 15 points for the Blue.
So let’s start with the questions and figure out possible answers:
Who can score? BNL lost 70 percent of its offense and minutes played from last year’s senior-heavy, 16-win team. Godlevske returns after averaging 10.8 points and shooting 50 percent from long range. But he can’t do it all.
Hello, Mr. Matson. The junior wing, making the jump to the next level after a successful junior varsity season a year ago, was smooth and impressive with his combination of perimeter jumpers (three bombs) and lane gashes. He spent last year learning from graduated stars Colten Leach and Colton Staggs, taking mental notes about their intensity and shot selection. He spent the summer honing his ability to finish at the rim and launch shots off the catch.
“He’s had a really good eight days (since official practices started), good enough – if he continues to be consistent – you could say he’s special,” BNL first-year coach Kurt Godlevske said. “He’s got shooting skill, the ability to finish around the basket. We’re pretty excited about him.”
Matson just needs experience. “The varsity level will come as the games go on,” he said.
What will be BNL’s strengths? If this scrimmage is a true example, shooting. The Stars hit 11 treys in the half, with Dax Short adding two among his eight points.
“For the little amount of time we’ve put into our offensive stuff, we didn’t force or make a lot of bad decisions,” Godlevske said. “We flowed into things and we were aggressive. We shot the ball well.”
Where is BNL vulnerable? Defense will be key. BNL allowed only 48.1 points per game last season, partially because of the deliberate pace on the offensive end. The Stars intend to play faster with this group.
“Defensively, we’re getting there,” Godlevske said. “But what I didn’t like – we didn’t rebound well enough. That will be a real concern for us. Everyone will be bigger than us, and if we don’t limit teams to one shot per possession, we’ll have some issues.”
“How good is our defense?” BNL senior Trace Rynders said. “It’s whether we can stop teams. The pace of the game will be quicker. Last year we controlled the pace more, this year we will up the tempo. Hopefully we can get it done defensively.”
Why is there optimism after losing so many seniors? BNL has some key pieces – experience in the backcourt, offensive weapons, Godlevske makes the move to the boys program after tremendous success with the BNL girls.
How will BNL look? That answer will be revealed during the next step, when the Stars visit Martinsville for the IHSAA sanctioned scrimmage. Performing against familiar teammates is one thing, doing it against an outside enemy is quite another.
“This is the last time they’ll have to beat each other’s brains out,” Godlevske said. “Can we now do it together as a group against someone else? Now we will put the kids into the rotation, the way we want to play them, and they get to play together.“
“We’ve been going hard, making sure we can execute when we get on the court,” Rynders said. “We still have a ways to go. But I think we looked pretty good. We shared the ball, hit a lot of shots. We’ll be able to score.”
When? BNL will visit the Artesians on Thursday night, the final step before the season opener at Bloomington North on Nov. 21.
BNL INTRASQUAD SCRIMMAGE
WHITE 30, BLUE 30
White – Patric Matson 23, Isaiah Sasser 3, Jonah Bailey 2, Maddox Ray 2
Blue – Noah Godlevske 15, Logan Miracle 2, Dax Short 8, Quincy Pickett 5