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BOYS BASKETBALL: Stars get head start on Cougars

BNL sophomore McCall Ray and the Stars, who beat Brown County in the season opener, will host Bloomington North on Saturday night.

BNL sophomore McCall Ray and the Stars, who beat Brown County in the season opener, will host Bloomington North on Saturday night.

BNL, fresh from opening

win over Brown County,

ready for North’s debut

By Justin Sokeland

TheHHCSports.com

With the first-game nerves of a young team soothed by a victory, with a quality ballhandling performance easily overshadowing tepid shooting, Bedford North Lawrence made a positive first step into the unknown of the 2016-17 campaign.

The Stars, fueled by the momentum of success, will need that advantage when they host Bloomington North on Saturday night.

BNL statistics

The Cougars will make their belated debut. Although North got the chance to scout BNL’s new-look system and personnel during the 56-44 win over Brown County, the Cougars will have kinks the Stars have already worked out.

“Maybe we can actually have a little bit of the nerves out of the way, that first game out of the way, and use that as an advantage,” BNL coach Matt Seifers said. “There were so many pieces that we did well, and being that young we were able to do it. We missed a lot of shots, but the kids trust each other and moved the ball well. We didn’t over-do too much.”

The most notable statistic from Game 1 was only 1 turnover in the second half, and only four total. With two sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, that kind of poise and execution is remarkable. The Eagles did not press and sat back in a lot of zones, but the Stars handled it well and found open shooters. Seifers cited only three bad shots among the 55 BNL launched.

BNL freshman Brayton Bailey had a double-double in his first varsity game.

BNL freshman Brayton Bailey had a double-double in his first varsity game.

“I was impressed with the ball movement of BNL,” North coach Andy Hodson said. “They moved the ball to find open shooters, and they have many guys who can step up and knock down the 3.  We have to make sure we have great closeouts to challenge those shots and prevent guys from driving by us to create easy opportunities for their teammates.”

The Stars are no longer a mystery, not with evidence now recorded. North, on the other hand, has three returning starters, and one of those will demand a lot of attention in the paint.

Junior forward Musa Jallow, a 6-6 force inside, already has Division I offers from Indiana, IUPUI and Vanderbilt. IU coach Tom Crean got plenty of free looks at Jallow last season when Crean’s son Riley was a key member of the North roster. The younger Crean has chosen to concentrate on baseball, but his father had seen enough to lead the early charge to sign Jallow.

“He’s a big-time Division I prospect, an Indiana All-Star for sure,” Seifers said. “He’s absolutely the real deal.”

Jallow averaged 13.9 points and 8.1 rebounds last season, and he will be joined by veterans Sean Rudder (5.7) and Logan Calvin. Freshman Jack Townsend is a talented shooter, and North will need some perimeter scoring to make up for the graduation of leading scorer Malik Laffoon (16.0).

“Musa has improved over the summer and we feel that we have a few more shooters to place around the perimeter to give him more space to operate on the perimeter or in the post,” Hodson said. “We just want to come out and play hard and do the things that we have been working on in practice.

“At this early stage of the season, we are more worried about training our guys to do what they need to do to be successful as a group and settle into their roles.  We’re so focused on us right now that it is hard to do too much scout-specific details that we can dive into later in the season.

“it will be a tough task for our team.  If BNL shoots the ball well, which they are more than capable of doing, they will be tough to handle. We will have to come in ready to play in a hostile environment.”

BNL junior Gaven Moore had 7 points in the opener against Brown County.

BNL junior Gaven Moore had 7 points in the opener against Brown County.

BLOOMINGTON NORTH at BNL

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 1-0; Bloomington North 0-0

Series: BNL leads 25-16.

Last meeting: Last year at North, Braxton Day scored a career-high 38 points and Eli McPike added 21 as the Stars conquered the Cougars 71-54.

Last year’s recap

Game note: BNL is looking to start 2-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season. North went 8-15 last year. Matt Seifers is the seventh coach of the eight in BNL program history to win his opening game.

BNL starting lineup

F – Gaven Moore 6-0 Jr.

F – Brayton Bailey 6-1 Fr.

C – Isaiah Stockman 6-3 Jr.

G – Jathan Ritter 6-2 So.

G – McCall Ray 5-11 So.

Bloomington North starting lineup

F – Musa Jallow 6-6 Jr.

F – Logan Calvin 6-3 Sr.

G – Sean Rudder 6-0 Sr.

G – Liam Wilkerson 6-0 Jr.

G – Jack Townsend 6-0 Fr.