BROWNSBURG — Young teams go through growing pains, it’s a fact. The Bethesda Christian boys’ basketball squad experienced that reality Thursday night as they faced Indiana Deaf.
Bethesda played three quarters of solid basketball but faltered at the end, falling 45-41 to the Deaf Hoosiers.
“We’re in the middle of the struggle,” Bethesda coach Justin Cook said. “One of my college coaches said to me one time that the struggle is what gives value to the prize. I think we’re at that point where the struggle is tough, but when we get to the prize, and we will get to it, the struggle will have immense value. We will look back and think we grew through that.”
Bethesda trailed 13-12 heading into the second quarter and began to build some momentum. Jake Mlagan scored eight of his team-high 12 points at the beginning of the second and the Patriots led 24-19.
Mlagan started the quarter 4 of 4, but did not score the rest of the game.
“For that little flash at the end of the first and into the second, they had fun playing and I had a lot of fun coaching,” Cook said. “We now need to replicate that.”
Bethesda carried that momentum into the third quarter. Two baskets from John Mlagan gave Bethesda its biggest lead of the night at 34-27 but Indiana Deaf responded with a 7-2 run to end the quarter.
Bethesda gave up a wide-open 3-pointer to Dante Paulone as time expired in the third and the Deaf Hoosiers trailed 36-34.
“It was a clutch shot for him and we should give him credit,” Cook said. “It took the wind out of our sails and we didn’t really respond that well to that tonight. We had some mental breakdowns after that and that really hurt us.”
Andrew Stone’s basket with 7:12 left in the fourth gave the Patriots a four-point lead, but Bethesda would go on to score just three more points the rest of the way.
Mental errors and mistakes led to frustration and that frustration gave way to three technical fouls down the stretch, two on Bethesda and one on Indiana Deaf.
With Bethesda up 40-38, Indiana Deaf finished with a 7-1 run to close out the Patriots.
With only two seniors — John Mlagan and Aaron Hampton — Cook said he needs the pair to step up as they are “battle tested” and lead this group the rest of the season.
“We’re going to have to lean on our seniors this year,” he said. “There’s a lot they bring to the table. Aaron had some good words for the team in the locker room afterward about where he was needing to take more responsibility and as he does that, others will follow his lead.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.