SELLERSBURG — Coming off their Friday night home loss to Jeffersonville, and facing another formidable Hoosier Hills Conference foe Saturday night, some wondered how the Class 3A No. 3 Silver Creek Dragons would respond.
Silver Creek started slowly, missing its first 11 shots from the field, against Bedford North Lawrence as the Stars jetted out to an 11-2 lead. However the Dragons rallied back behind the play of senior sharpshooter Zane Gross, then held off BNL late for a 48-45 win.
“We had a sold-out crowd [Friday] night, lose a tough ballgame, and you come in tonight and you figure the energy might be kind of low,” said Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman, whose team fell 66-54 to the 4A No. 9 Red Devils. “But we competed. I was proud of the grit and toughness we showed. That’s a good team.”
Gross, who led all scorers with 18 points, also earned praise from his coach for his defense on Bedford guard Brayton Bailey, the son of Indiana legend Damon Bailey.
“You’re talking about a guy who gets a high percentage of their points, and Zane held him to what, eight?” Hoffman said, accurately pointing out Bailey’s point total. “Great job by Zane.”
Bedford led 14-8 at the end of the first quarter, and the Stars’ lead swelled to 19-10 after senior forward Jathan Ritter nailed a 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes remaining in the first half.
But that’s when the Dragons (7-1) clawed back. They ended the first half with a 9-2 run that culminated with Ty Kessinger’s 3-point play that cut the BNL lead to 24-23.
The hosts clamped down on Bedford and Bailey on the Stars’ final possession of the first half, forcing four missed shots and entering intermission down by a single point.
“There were two possessions at the end of the first half where I was really pleased with our defense,” Hoffman said. “That really helped set the tone for us.”
The third was back-and-forth before Gross gave Silver Creek the lead for good, at 33-31, with a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play in the period.
The Dragons’ advantage swelled to 42-35 when Kessinger converted a steal and lay-up with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
BNL proved pesky, though. Silver Creek helped the Stars out by going 2-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch. The Dragons withstood Bailey’s 3-point heave, which hit the front of the rim, at the buzzer to pick up the win.
Sophomore forward Trey Kaufman added 12 points and nine rebounds while Kessinger and Jack Hawkins contributed eight points apiece for Silver Creek, which is off until it hosts Clarksville on Dec. 28 in its annual holiday tournament.
Hoffman said his squad will be busy during the break.
“We’ve gotten a lot of attention, but I don’t think we’re near the type of team we can be yet,” he said. “We’ve had games where we’ve scored a lot of points, and there’s going to be games like this one where teams will try and slow us down. This will help us come March.”
SILVER CREEK 48, BEDFORD NL 45
Bedford NL 14 10 9 12—45
Silver Creek 8 15 10 15—48
Bedford North Lawrence (4-5): Brayton Bailey 8, McCall Ray 13, Cale Bunch 4, Drew Shoufler 6, Jathan Ritter 12, Lane Hawkins 2.
Silver Creek (7-1): Zane Gross 18, Jack Hawkins 8, Josh Landers 2, Ty Kessinger 8, Kooper Jacobi 4, Trey Kaufman 12.
3-point field goals: BNL 7 (Ritter 4, Ray 3); Silver Creek 5 (Gross 4, Kaufman).
Rebounds: BNL 21 (Bunch 7); Silver Creek 28 (Kaufman 9).
Free throws: BNL 6-10 (60%); Silver Creek 15-20 (75%).
Turnovers: BNL 9, Silver Creek 8.
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