By KEVIN HARRIS
If you thought Jeffersonville snapped out of its recent funk after last game — a 61-51 victory over Class 2A No. 10 Providence on Jan. 18 — then think again.
The Red Devils suffered their fifth loss in the last six games on Friday night at Johnson Arena with a 56-51 setback to Bedford North Lawrence. The loss officially eliminated Jeff out of contention to claim its third consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference title. It was the Stars’ first victory at Johnson Arena since 2008 and only their second win at Jeff since 1990.
The problem for the Red Devils on Friday was offense. They shot only 40 percent from the field (20-of-50) and scored 19 points below their season average of 70.1 points per contest.
“On offense, we were standing and we were stagnant. We had guys playing out of their roles and thinking they could do more than they are capable of doing,” Jeff coach Matt Pait said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of great offensive possessions tonight, and that was the difference in the game.”
Bedford (6-6, 2-2 HHC) grabbed the momentum in the closing seconds of the first half.
Senior guard Morgan Cummings, the son of former Stars’ standout Jamie Cummings, nailed a 3-pointer near NBA range to give Bedford a 23-21 lead at halftime. Bedford did not relinquish the lead after that.
“That was a big boost,” Stars’ coach Jamie Hudson said. “We wanted to keep the score right where we wanted it. We wanted to try to keep them in the mid 40s to low 50s and we did that tonight. We handled their athleticism really well.”
Cummings’ 3 helped the Stars catch fire in the third quarter. They connected on seven of their 10 field-goal attempts in the stanza to lead 39-36 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, Bedford’s advantage got as high as nine points at 52-43 when Dillon Hensley made the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:10 remaining in regulation.
The Red Devils trimmed their deficit down to three at 54-51 with 2.5 seconds left, as sophomore reserve Demarre Sims put back a missed 3 by senior guard Tyrise Major. But Cummings iced the victory with a pair of free throws with 2.1 ticks left.
“They got the lead and they played their game,” Pait said. “We had to waste so much energy trying to get stops on defense because they were able to pull [the ball] out and do what they wanted to do. That’s how basketball is — whoever has got the lead was going to dictate what happens. They were able to do that tonight.”
Senior Keenan Williams, who did not start, was the only Jeff player to score in double figures with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Williams also had a team-high three assists.
Major helped keep the Red Devils (7-6, 2-3) within striking distance throughout the second half. He tallied nine points, all of which came in the final 16 minutes.
One Jeff player who struggled throughout the contest was Drew Ellis. The senior forward just scored eight points, as he was 2-of-13 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3-point range.
“I thought we did a great job on Ellis tonight. He was a big for us, and I thought our kids in our zone [defense] did a good job,” Hudson said. “We lost him once and he made us pay. But other than that, he had to really work for those points he ended up with.”
Junior Blaze Byrer and sophomore Braxton Day each scored 18 points. Byrer also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Cummings scored 14 points, and Hensley dished out a game-high five steals.
Jeff plays host Fairdale (Ky.) in the Forcht Bank King of the Bluegrass Showcase at 3 p.m. today.
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE 56, JEFFERSONVILLE 51
Bedford NL 11 12 16 17—56
Jeffersonville 14 7 15 15—51
Bedford North Lawrence (6-6, 2-2 HHC): Blaze Byrer 8-16 1-1 18, Braxton Day 7-11 2-2 18, Morgan Cummings 4-8 3-4 14, Dillon Hensley 0-0 3-4 3, Seth Stockman 0-0 2-2 2, Matt Garrison 0-1 1-2 1, Trey Turner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-36 12-15 56.
Jeffersonville (7-6, 2-3): Keenan Williams 8-14 2-2 19, Tyrise Major 3-8 3-4 9, Drew Ellis 2-13 2-2 8, Dionte Allen 3-6 0-0 6, Leonard Kwitonda 3-4 0-0 6, Demarre Sims 1-2 0-0 2, Chad Hudson 0-2 1-2 1, Chandler Dale 0-0 0-0 0, C.J. Lambus 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 8-10 51.
3-point field goals: Bedford North Lawrence 6-14 (Cummings 3-6, Day 2-3, Byrer 1-5); Jeffersonville 3-16 (Ellis 2-8, Williams 1-2, Kwitonda 0-1, Sims 0-1, Major 0-4).
Rebounds: Bedford North Lawrence 25 (Byrer 7); Jeffersonville 24 (Allen 7).
Assists: Bedford North Lawrence 10 (Hensley 5); Jeffersonville 7 (Williams 3).
Steals: Bedford North Lawrence 2 (Garrison, Hensley 1); Jeffersonville 4 (Kwitonda 2).
Blocked shots: Bedford North Lawrence 2 (Byrer, Garrison 1); Jeffersonville 2 (Ellis 2).
Turnovers: Bedford North Lawrence 17, Jeffersonville 12.
Total fouls: Bedford North Lawrence 12, Jeffersonville 17.
Fouled out: none.
Technical fouls: none.
JV: Bedford North Lawrence 40, Jeffersonville 35.