BNL wins Seifers’ debut
as Stockman, Bailey key
Stars to 56-44 triumph
By Justin Sokeland
When he replays his first win, both in his mind and on the video screen, as the new head coach at Bedford North Lawrence, Matt Seifers will fast forward to the fourth quarter. From his perspective, that’s how this collection of young guns should perform.
Clinging anxiously to a one-point lead, the Stars pulled away with a near-perfect conclusion while conquering dangerous Brown County 56-44 on Tuesday night. Isaiah Stockman scored 17 points while heralded freshman Brayton Bailey had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and that duo did the bulk of the heavy lifting as Seifers hung this framed victory on the wall.
With their team questioning its fate, Stockman and Bailey shouldered the load. Stockman, a slasher on the baseline, hit his last six shots. Bailey, carrying a legend’s name as his baggage, made game-winning plays that were reminiscent of his pedigree. Their fourth-quarter surge powered BNL to safety.
“That was probably about as good a fourth quarter as we can play,” Seifers said. “We started going after balls, getting rebounds, doing things. It was pretty good.”
After a smooth breakout to a 13-3 lead, BNL’s offense started sputtering as shots clunked. Without junior reserve Koby Byers, who drilled three 3-pointers, BNL’s ability to score was nearly extinguished by the inside presence of 6-10 Brown County center Josh Cochran, who blocked six shots and altered most others by simply standing there with his arms extended.
The Eagles eventually caught up, even took the lead four times in the third quarter, the last on Jordan Samples’ trey from the key. Stockman put BNL in front 36-35 with a rebound basket.
From that point, the Stars took over. Stockman knifed the baseline for two scores and Gaven Moore finished a fast break for a 42-35 advantage. Brown County trimmed that to 45-41. And then Bailey erupted with a personal exclamation point: a three-point play, a steal (ripping the ball from Cochran in the post) and a full-court dash to beat everyone to the other end for a layup, and another steal that he fed to Stockman for a basket and 54-41 lead. It was over.
“He definitely found a different gear in the fourth quarter,” Seifers said. “He’s not a kid that will put up 35 a night, but he’s going to change games. He changed the game tonight.”
The win had promising features. First, and probably foremost, BNL had only 4 turnovers. While Brown County spent the bulk of the night camped in a zone, that was still impressive. Ball movement was crisp, decision making was sharp. Don’t forget, these were sophomores and a freshman doing most of the ballhandling.
Second, BNL found a way to win despite hitting only 6 of 21 shots from long range. Take away Byers, and it was brutal. But it was not lethal.
“Shots aren’t falling, you’re on your heels,” Seifers said. “It’s not what we wanted from an offensive tempo. We learned we can fight through. We learned Isaiah is pretty good when we get him the ball in the right spots. The boys figured it out.
“Koby was a huge spark for us in the first half. We’re going to be a team that needs those kinds of things.”
“I just had the confidence to shoot the ball,” Byers said. “I had prepared all day for this moment, all summer and all offseason.”
Third, BNL adjusted to the Cochran Factor. That kid was an intimidating human wall, and he had 12 points and 14 rebounds. Stockman, giving up a 7-inch height advantage, missed 8 straight shots at one point.
“I didn’t start how I wanted to, so I came out in the second half, started better, and forgot about the first half,” Stockman said. “We just slowed things down, took our time and made good plays.”
Ezra Scully had 12 points and Samples totaled 11 for Brown County, which still hasn’t beaten BNL in program history. Of course, the first two wins came in the first two years of the school, even before disco was a fad.
Byers and McCall Ray contributed 9 points each. Seifers, who was already looking ahead to Win No.2, was glad to get this one behind him after all the controversy around the regime change and a long offseason of anticipation.
“It’s really big for us,” Byers said. “It’s going to give us a lot of confidence.”
BNL will chase No.2 on Saturday night when the Stars host Bloomington North.