Bedford North Lawrence exorcised some old demons on Friday night.
Jeffersonville’s Johnson Arena had been a den of doom for the Stars, who had won only once there since the program’s 1990 state championship season. They ended that skid with a 56-51 win over the Red Devils, whose midseason course change took another turn in the wrong direction.
Blaze Byrer and sophomore catalyst Braxton Day scored 18 points each, and senior guard Morgan Cummings totaled 14 as the surging Stars (6-6, 2-2 Hoosier Hills Conference) posted their first three-game winning streak since the late stages of the 2011-12 season. They also ended a four-game run of losses to the Devils, who left shaking their heads over their misery.
Jeffersonville (7-6, 2-3) has now lost five of its last six. This might have been the most stunning. Last year the Devils destroyed BNL twice and returned a chunk of its nucleus from the regional championship. But the losses, especially with the season-ending suspension of point guard Myles Harvey, are piling up.
The Devils sputtered offensively. Keenan Williams scored 19 points, but BNL was able to dictate tempo, control the pace and keep its poise.
“We were standing and stagnant; we had guys playing out of their roles and trying to make plays they’re not capable of doing,” Jeffersonville coach Matt Pait said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of good offensive possessions.”
BNL trailed the entire first half until Cummings drilled a long trey for a 23-21 lead at the break. The Stars opened the third quarter with a burst to a 33-25 advantage, and the game of keep-away was on. The Devils pressed, pressured and plugged away but never got back in front.
“They got the lead and got to play their game,” Pait said. “We had to waste so much energy to get stops on defense. When we had the lead, the game was our pace. That’s how basketball is. Whoever has the lead is going to dictate what happens.”
Byrer had the big fourth-quarter points, scoring seven, and Day added a turnaround jumper from the paint for BNL’s biggest lead at 49-40. The Devils forced 11 fourth-quarter turnovers as BNL kept clock-watching and fidgeting in front, but the Stars hit enough free throws to stay at arm’s length.
“We handled their athleticism pretty well, made free throws when it counted, made some big shots and came out of here with a good, good win,” BNL coach Jamie Hudson said. “I told the kids we could do it here and do it tonight. Our kids are so bought in right now. We’re starting to play really good BNL basketball.”
BNL refused to rush into defeat, choosing rather to grind down the Devils with a patient offense. Jeffersonville responded by hurrying into more problems, going 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
“They have figured themselves out,” Pait said. “They’re just a solid team.”
Tyrise Major came off the bench to score nine points and Drew Ellis added eight for the Devils.
– Garison 1, Byrer 18, Day 18, Cummings 14, Hensley 3, Stockman 2.Bedford North Lawrence (6-6)
– Ellis 8, Allen 6, Wililams 19, Sims 2, Hudson 1, Kwitonda 6, Major 6.Jeffersonville (7-6)
– Byrer 1, Day 2, Cummings 3, Ellis 2, Williams 1.3-point goals