Stars Too Tough a Nut-ley to Crack During Win Over Cubs

BNL’s Chloe McKnight looks for a gap in Madison’s defense. McKnight had 19 points and 8 rebounds as the Stars stopped the Cubs 63-43 on Saturday afternoon.

By Justin Sokeland

(BEDFORD) – All nuts have a hard outer covering, a shell that must be cracked by force. Some, like the macadamia, are almost impossible to open by hand. So to is Bedford North Lawrence’s defensive shell.

The Stars refused to fracture for the Nut-ley in their midst, cracking down on Madison’s main scoring threat rather than surrender something tasty in the paint. BNL’s defense drove the Cubs a little nuts as the Stars completed the pre-holiday portion of the schedule with another dominating performance.

Chloe McKnight scored 19 points as BNL chewed up Madison 63-43 on Saturday afternoon, winning the 14th straight game in the series and ending Madison’s best start in five seasons. Madison Webb totaled 15 points, powering the Stars (9-4) to 4-1 in the Hoosier Hills Conference.

This victory wasn’t about the offense, although scoring is usually necessary. This was a defensive masterpiece, by design and execution, as BNL held Madison scoring leader Jade Nutley to 4 points – far below her season average of 16 and far short of her 23-point performance against the Stars a year ago.

Without a Nut-ley in the middle, the Cubs (8-4, 3-2) were easily snapped. Nutley was limited to one field goal, and the beauty of that shutdown was who was responsible for chasing the 6-foot-1 junior. BNL did it with guards, not with size, with plenty of help from the back side.

‘The kids put out a lot of effort,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “Credit has to go to them. We did a good job.”

BNL’s Madison Webb had 15 points as the Stars improved to 9-4.

On the scoring end, McKnight was her typical dangerous self, stroking four treys, including a buzzer jumper from the end to end the first half with a 31-20 lead. When BNL opened the third quarter with Karsyn Norman’s wing 3-pointer, Webb’s strong move in the paint, and the last of the Mc-bombs, the Stars were up 46-23 and Madison had crumbled.

“They have a lot of offensive scoring threats, and defensive threats on the floor,” Madison coach Sonja Bowyer said. “We never really got into a flow, and they did a good job on our guards, not letting us get the ball into Nutley.”

McKnight also grabbed a game-high 8 rebound, continuing her six-game trend as the team leader in that category. She has noticeably toughened, gotten more aggressive, mean enough to wade into the fray to claim the ball. Size isn’t everything.

“Her shooting is secondary to me,” Allen said. “I need her to make 3-pointers, but her defense and rebounding, her looking to attack the basket, has made a difference. It’s made a big difference in our team, on both ends of the floor.”

BNL freshman Karsyn Norman fires a shot over a defender. Norman totaled 8 points.

Webb had her second straight quality game of finishing in the post, hitting 6 of 8 shots. Irye Gomez added 10 points, and credit has to go to McKnight, Gracie-Crulo Rood, Carlee Kern (who grabbed 5 boards) and all who spent the day as the Nut-crackers.

Taylor Lynch had 11 points and 7 boards for the Cubs, who were down a starter as Lunden Perry was sidelined by the flu. Outside of Lynch, until the reserves came in to bury four late treys, Madison found BNL a tough nut indeed.

The Stars rebounded from last week’s loss to nationally ranked Ohio power Mount Notre Dame with two impressive wins against opponents that were on a roll before visiting BNL Fieldhouse.

“When you practice like a champion, it carries over to the floor,” Allen said. “We played at a really high level this week. We got thumped last week by an outstanding team, and I was happy to see our kids come back and that at that level.”

BNL will now be idle until Jan. 4. It’s been 16 years since the Stars have had a lengthy holiday break. So this triumph was doubly important.

“We have a long gap, and we have momentum for the Christmas break, and how we can start it back up,” McKnight said. “I don’t think the break will bother us.”

BNL’s Jenna Louden slides through Madison’s defense while attacking the basket.

MADISON CUBS (43)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

34 Taylor Lynch, f 1-4 5-12 0-0 7 2 11

44 Jessie Dyer, f 0-1 2-4 1-2 5 2 5

00 Jade Nutley, c 0-0 1-6 2-3 4 3 4

12 Harper Watson, g 0-1 0-4 1-2 1 2 1

23 Paige Young, g 1-3 2-4 0-0 3 1 5

2 Daesja Jay 0-3 1-10 0-0 0 2 2

32 Abby Ferguson 2-2 2-2 0-0 0 1 6

42 Megan Eades 3-3 3-3 0-0 1 0 9

30 Morgan Cahall 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Chloe Ferris 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 7-17 16-47 4-7 23 14 43

BEDFORD NL STARS (63)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 1-3 4-6 1-1 2 2 10

32 Madison Webb, c 0-0 6-8 3-4 5 0 15

11 Chloe McKnight, g 4-7 6-11 3-4 8 0 19

24 Gracie Crulo-Rood, g 0-1 0-1 0-0 2 3 0

21 Karsyn Norman, g 2-4 3-9 0-0 2 1 8

23 Jenna Louden 0-1 0-1 3-4 1 3 3

40 Haley Deckard 0-0 1-1 2-2 2 0 4

12 Makena Moore 0-1 1-3 0-0 2 0 2

20 Carlee Kern 0-0 1-1 0-1 5 1 2

50 Peyton Sweet 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

44 Grace Kinser 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 7-17 22-41 12-16 30 10 63

Madison 7 13 5 18 – 43

Bedford NL 13 18 15 17 – 63

Turnovers – Madison 10, BNL 11

Field goal percentage – Madison 16-47 (.340); BNL 22-41 (.537)

Free throw percentage – Madison 4-7 (.571); BNL 12-16 (.750)

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