Streaking Stars have the last word with late surge for 58-57 road win over Jennings

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Trace Rynders slides past Jennings County’s Dorian Hacker during Saturday night’s HHC battle. Rynders had 11 points, including four late free throws, as the Stars rallied for a 58-57 victory.

By Justin Sokeland

NORTH VERNON – Locked in a struggle of point-counterpoint, Bedford North Lawrence had the final word. And it was the best.

In a tense skirmish marked by distinct spurts, the Stars had the last one, taking over during the final three minutes for a revenge win over Jennings County that vaulted them into the limelight as the Hoosier Hills Conference leader, with the race still in its early stages.

Down five midway through the fourth quarter, BNL battled back for a sweet 58-57 triumph over the hard-to-kill Panthers on Saturday night. Patric Matson scored 23 points and Trace Rynders made late clutch plays as the Stars (9-2, 2-0 in the league) extended their winning streak to eight straight while marking their best start in 13 years.

The sweet part was conquering Jennings (6-9, 0-2) after the heartache the Panthers caused during last year’s postseason, when they came back from the grave twice to stun the Stars in double overtime and went on to great tournament success. Avenging that won’t bring back a title, but it did thrust BNL toward a possible league crown with a huge road win.

BNL wasn’t quite on life support, but the needles were close to flatlining when Jennings burst to a 47-42 lead with 4:10 left. Noah Godlevske swished a deep jumper from just inside the volleyball line, Matson got a three-bouncer to drop from the baseline and the blood pressure returned. Then after a Carter Kent free throw gave JC a 49-47 lead with 2:14 left, the Stars surged with a 9-2 run.

Matson started it with a second-chance trey from the right wing. Logan Miracle scored off a great Rynders feed. Then Rynders won a frantic race for a deep rebound, got fouled, and coldly converted two free throws with 37 seconds left. After another JC miss, Rynders gave BNL a key two-possession lead with two more at the line, and even two desperate Kent bombs in the final six seconds couldn’t rescue the Panthers this time.

“What I love about my kids is how many times we’re going to be put in that situation, where we have to respond, have to execute as a team, get stops as a team,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “We did it again tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Patric Matson soars toward the rim. Matson scored 23 points.

The earlier bursts were a prelude to the finish. BNL made the first move, a 10-2 run to a 24-15 advantage midway through the second quarter. Dax Short started that blast with a trey, Matson finished it with a pair of them. Of course, true to recent history, Jennings erased that, closing the half with a 13-2 run that included two Cole Sigler treys and two Kent short-range buckets for a 31-28 lead.

Oh yeah? Take this. BNL allowed only three points in the third quarter as Jennings went colder than the grave. Matson exploded with two bombs and a floating drive-and-bank basket, pushing the Stars to a 40-34 edge. Safe? Oh no. Jennings answered with another 13-2 punch, with Kent splashing two corner treys and gashing through traffic for a beautiful scoop layup and the 47-42 lead.

“I told them it was our turn to make a run,” Godlevske said of his message at that point. “And we responded. That’s the sign of a great team, when you can do those types of things.”

Matson was outstanding once again, scoring 17 points in the second half and hitting five total from long range. Rynders finished with a season-high 11 points, and Miracle was again perfect from the floor to get his 8 points. Matson made the two nails-in-the-coffin free throws with 4 seconds left to secure the win.

“Not having a lot of HHC experience, Patric didn’t have a good first half,” Godlevske said. “He responded to the challenge. That’s the sign of a winner.”

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Noah Godlevske finds a hole in the defense. Godlevske scored 6 points.

”It was the ball movement, we got open shots,” Matson said. “It was physical, I had to be physical back, play my game.”

Kent was a two-way menace. He had six assists in the first half, then scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 24 (plus eight assists).

“He’s a terrific player,” Godlevske said. “Never seems to get sped up. I love his court vision. We did enough to make him earn everything.”

Sigler added 12 points, all on threes in the first half, and Dorian Hacker added 10 points. Jennings took two-thirds of its shots (32 of 48) from long range and converted 13 of them. The Panthers were also guilty of only five turnovers. Normally, those kind of numbers win. But the third-quarter drought was crucial.

“The third quarter has been our weakness,” first-year JC coach Rob Kent said. “I don’t know this for a fact, but I don’t think we’ve won a third quarter the whole year. Mentally, we’re not prepared, I guess.”

BNL now leads the league as the only unbeaten, with four tough ones still to go. The view from the front seat is a lot better than the back.

“I like it,” Godlevske said. “We’re doing all the little things, we’re growing. I thought that was critical.”

BNL will return home for another conference clash, facing Seymour on Friday.

NORTH VERNON – Jennings star Carter Kent prepares to pass as Maddox Ray gives chase. Kent had 24 points and 8 assists.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

10 Patric Matson, f 5-10 8-16 2-2 3 1 23

31 Logan Miracle, f 0-0 4-4 0-2 3 0 8

11 Noah Godlevske, g 2-5 2-8 0-0 3 2 6

1 Trace Rynders, g 2-2 2-2 5-6 6 4 11

12 Maddox Ray, g 0-0 1-2 0-0 4 4 2

22 Isaiah Sasser 0-0 0-1 0-0 1 0 0

3 Quincy Pickett 1-1 1-1 0-0 2 0 3

40 Kline Woodward 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 2

5 Dax Short 1-1 1-2 0-0 0 1 3

Totals 11-19 20-36 7-10 23 12 58


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

11 Dorian Hacker, f 2-4 2-7 0-0 5 3 10

14 Ben Juraskovich, f 0-3 0-3 0-0 0 0 0

44 Austin Byford, c 0-1 1-4 1-2 6 4 3

5 Carter Kent, g 5-7 9-17 1-2 4 1 24

21 Cole Sigler, g 4-13 4-13 0-0 0 4 12

3 Cash Millspaugh 2-3 2-3 0-0 2 3 6

2 Will Barnes 0-0 1-1 0-0 2 2 2

Totals 13-32 21-48 2-4 22 17 57

Bedford NL 11 17 12 18 – 58

Jennings Co. 10 21 3 23 – 57

Turnovers – BNL 10, Jennings 5

Field goal percentage – BNL 20-36 (.556); Jennings 21-48 (.438)

Free throw percentage – BNL 7-10 (.700); Jennings 2-4 (.500)