BEDFORD — The sheer effort and hustle from the Bedford North Lawrence boys basketball team oozes onto the floor like lava as the Stars strive and stretch and dive with every ounce of energy they possess.
Unfortunately, nowhere near enough of it spills through the net, just yet, for points as BNL fell short again Saturday night, 45-37, to Terre Haute North in a non-conference duel at BNL Fieldhouse.
As usual, the Stars played defense like demons to stay in the game, but they shot just 13 for 36 (36 percent) overall and 3 of 13 (23 percent) from the 3-point arc while slipping to 0-3 on the young season.
"There's no hiding the fact that we're struggling at the offensive end," said BNL head coach Jeff Hein. "We're putting too much pressure on our defense with our inability to put the ball in the basket.
"It's a work in progress and these guys keep fighting and battling. As long as they don't give up — and they aren't quitters — then we're going to keep learning and improving, and one day soon we're going to be talking about a 'W' instead of an 'L.' "
Terre Haute North coach Todd Woelfle agreed, and was relieved to walk out with a win over the Stars for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
"Any time you win here, it's a great win," he said. "We had lost four in a row to them and a real tough one at home last year (50-45 in overtime), and for many of our kids this was their first true road game because of what we went through last year with COVID and everything.
"So for them to come through and keep their composure in a tough place when it got close and got loud is a real nice job by our kids. Jeff has them playing they way they need to play right now, and they just get after it defensively. They always play really hard, so it's a big win for us. BNL is going to win some games this year playing that hard."
Stars shake off slow start
BNL, coming off a tough home loss to Bloomington South Friday night, took a bit to get its legs back under it, and North's Alex Ross rained in a pair of 3-pointers and Chris Owens buried another to give the Patriots an 11-4 lead after eight minutes. The Stars fought back as Kaedyn Bennett swished three free throws and reserve guard Kole Bailey scored on a putback to get it within 11-9.
The Stars trailed 20-14 at halftime, but they made a concerted effort to start driving the ball to the basket, size disadvantage be danged, in the second half, and it paid off nicely.
Bailey earns extended minutes
Colton Staggs scored five points out of the gate, and Bailey's up-and-under layup that he converted into a three-point play cut it to 24-22 with 3:20 to go in the third.
Bailey earned extended minutes and finished with five points, four rebounds and a steal.
"Kole gave us a big lift again tonight," Hein noted. "He did against South, and played more minutes tonight and gave us an even bigger lift. We just have to keep working and building."
A 3-pointer by Bennett and two free throws by Staggs tied it, 27-27, with 1:04 showing, but Issac Ross nailed a 15-footer, and Hankins drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 32-27 going to the fourth.
"It was just like Friday night where they got a big 3-pointer at the buzzer," Hein said. "That was a big momentum shift."
Hankins delivers dagger for Patriots
Hankins was also instrumental in another momentum swing, this one even more critical. BNL came out to start the fourth period even more determined to not settle for 3-pointers and drive relentlessly to the rim.
Trace Rynders converted one of them, and Staggs scored on two as the Stars battled within 34-33 with 5:28 to go. The defense then got three stops to give BNL a chance to take the lead, but they turned it over each time over the next three minutes.
Finally, the 6-5 Hankins peered over a double team and found Isaac Ross wide open, and his 3-pointer from the left corner pierced the heart of the defense. Rynders countered once more on a bold move down the lane, but Hankins answered with a three-point play to make it 40-35 with 2:14 to go.
"Hankins is a smart player who looks for the open man if it's there, and he's made a lot of big plays for us," said Woelfle. "That pass he made over the defense was big, and the three he hit at the buzzer was huge, too."
The Stars are chipping away at the depth issue until some key players can get back from injuries (and another promising freshman opted to leave the program after the Bloomington North game).
"These kids play their hearts out every night, but I think the turnovers there when we had a chance to take the lead were fatigue turnovers as much as anything," Hein said. "I don't think we had much left in the tank there after playing Friday, too. And that's the best North team in awhile. They're 3-0 for a reason.
"But the effort was there again, and we just have to stay together and keep working hard. We'll get there."
Hankins finished with 18 points, Issac Ross had 10 and his twin brother Alex added eight.
Staggs wound up with 12 points, Rynders had 10 and Bennett six for the Stars, who host Columbus East Friday night.
Contact Times-Mail Sports Writer Jeff Bartlett at email@example.com, or on Twitter @jeffbtmnews.
TERRE HAUTE NORTH 45, BEDFORD NL 37
Terre Haute North (45)
Frank f 2-7 0-4 4, Hankins f 5-9 6-8 18, A. Ross g 2-3 2-2 8, Sturm g 0-3 0-0 0, Carpenter 0-1 0-0 0, I. Ross 2-3 5-6 10, Owens 1-1 0-0 3, Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Maxwell 0-1 0-0 0, Wayt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-31 13-20 45.
Bedford North Lawrence (37)
Bennett f 1-4 2-2 6, Jones f 1-5 0-0 2, Nikirk g 0-1 0-0 0, Rynders g 4-10 0-0 10, Staggs g 4-12 4-7 12, Bailey 2-3 1-1 5, Endris 1-1 0-0 2, Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0, Miracle 0-0 0-0 0, Louden 0-0 0-0 0, Ray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-36 7-10 37.
Terre Haute North (3-0) 11 | 9 | 12 | 13 — 45
Bedford NL (0-3) 4 | 10 | 13 | 10 — 37
3-point goals: TH North 6-13 (Hankins 2-4, I. Ross 1-1, A. Ross 2-3, Sturm 0-2, Frank 0-1, Owens 1-1, Carpenter 0-1); Bedford NL 3-13 (Bennett 1-4, Rynders 2-6, Staggs 0-2, Bailey0-1), Rebounds: TH North 25 (Frank 10); Bedford NL 19 (Staggs 4). Team fouls: TH North 12; Bedford NL 17. Turnovers: TH North 15, Bedford NL 11. JV: TH North, 50-46.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford North Lawrence boys give maximum effort against Terre Haute North