Defense is the Way as Stars Collect Bounty on North, 68-18

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Chloe McKnight drives against North’s Erin Lillis. McKnight scored 18 points as the No.15 Stars slammed the Cougars 68-18 on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

(BLOOMINGTON) – Defense is the force for Bedford North Lawrence, binding the program together. It’s not mysterious. The Stars are Mandalorians on that end. This is the way.

On this mission, the bounty was on Bloomington North’s Ainsley Urbanski, who was reduced to an urban legend as BNL’s Gracie Crulo-Rood collected the reward for capturing the most wanted.

With Urbanski, who scored 26 points last year against the Stars, in chains, the Stars were unchallenged, blasting to a 68-18 victory over the Cougars on Tuesday night. Chloe McKnight paced a balanced offensive attack with 18 points as Class 4A No.15 BNL (11-4) won its ninth straight in the series and eighth straight against Indiana competition this season.

BNL’s defense snapped over North like a stormtrooper’s helmet, blocking the view as the Cougars (5-10) missed almost everything. BNL coach Jeff Allen got a little misty-eyed when discussing that phase. Points were secondary. The Stars won by 50 – its widest winning margin since the 79-23 win over Indianapolis Attucks last year – because the Cougars could not score. Period. Blanketed, they were.

“The defensive effort, and defensive focus, following the game plan defensively in the half court, was an outstanding job by my kids,” Allen said. “Both the starters and the bench kids, coming in and understanding what they were supposed to do defensively. To me, that’s the difference in the ballgame, and how we played, on the defensive end. I’m really proud of my kids.”

Here are some numbers to contemplate: 16 percent (North’s shooting percentage, rounded up), 5 (Urbanski’s total, all in the first quarter), and 85 (the number of North games since it totaled only 12 against BNL during the 2015-16 campaign).

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Madison Webb scores from close range. Webb had 12 points.

Crulo-Rood was one of the Jedi defenders, draped over Urbanski (who hit two of her first three shots before disappearing) like a cloak. Rest assured, Urbanski’s ultimate performance a year ago was mentioned a few times in practice. In the film room, too. Probably on the bus ride.

“We had to put a lot of effort into it,” Crulo-Rood said, and she got some assistance from Jenna Louden and whoever was on the help-side. “She‘s a great player. We had to stop her and make sure she didn’t get the ball back once she got rid of it. That was a goal.”

On the other end, by the way, BNL was equally efficient and excellent. Everybody scored. Madison Webb had three quick baskets in the post, finishing with 12 points total, and Irye Gomez drilled two treys while contributing 10 points. Other highlights included Makena Moore’s 7 points in the fourth quarter and Grace Kinser’s 3-point play, which got the loudest ovation.

“It was a good night for us,” Allen said. “We continue to get better. Our practices have been good. To me, you practice how you play and our practices have been outstanding. That’s why our level of play continues to get better.”

BNL’s surge can be traced back to the last loss to a Hoosier foe, that second-half meltdown against Jeffersonville. Since that humbling experience, McKnight pinpointed, the intensity level and focus shot into hyperdrive.

BLOOMINGTON – BNL’s Gracie Crulo-Rood runs the offense for the Stars. Crulo-Rood had 6 rebounds as was the defensive catalyst.

“We lost a game we shouldn’t have,” McKnight said. “We wanted to win more games. We’ve picked it up in practice, and now we’re playing like we practice. It was really fun. Usually it’s not fun to blow out teams, but when you play together it is.”

BNL allowed the fewest points since it surrendered 18 to Attucks in 2017-18.

“We were active,” Allen said. “Other than a couple of offensive rebounds, I don’t have much to complain about.

“That‘s the thing about my kids. They’re high-level, intelligent kids. They understand, when we talk about something and make it a priority, they really do their best to accomplish it. That makes me so happy as a coach They care about your program when they’re doing that.”

BNL’s next test will be much greater. The Stars will visit nemesis Castle on Saturday afternoon.

BLOOMINGTON – BNL freshman Karsyn Norman finds an opening the lane. Norman scored 7 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (68)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 2-4 3-8 2-2 2 1 10

32 Madison Webb, c 0-1 4-5 4-4 4 0 12

11 Chloe McKnght, g 3-6 5-9 5-5 2 1 18

24 Gracie Crulo-Rood, g 0-0 0-0 1-2 6 1 1

21 Karsyn Norman, g 1-3 3-8 0-0 2 1 7

23 Jenna Louden 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 2

40 Haley Deckard 0-0 1-1 1-1 5 1 3

50 Peyton Sweet 0-0 2-2 0-0 5 2 4

12 Makena Moore 1-1 3-6 0-1 1 0 7

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

44 Grace Kinser 0-1 1-2 1-1 1 0 3

Totals 7-16 23-43 15-18 33 7 68

BLOOMINGTON NORTH COUGARS (18)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

23 Stephanie Nicola, f 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 2 0

12 Elyse Goad, f 0-0 0-2 0-0 4 2 0

3 Ainsley Urbanski, g 0-2 2-9 1-3 3 3 5

11 Erin Lillis, g 0-4 1-12 4-4 1 3 6

10 Mallory Barrow, g 0-0 1-3 0-0 4 0 2

13 Casey Thomas 0-3 1-6 0-0 1 2 2

1 Bentlei Grooms 1-2 1-5 0-0 1 2 3

21 Nadia Trent 0-0 0-1 0-0 2 2 0

Totals 1-10 6-38 5-7 19 16 18

Bedford NL 15 15 22 16 – 68

Bl. North 5 4 6 3 – 18

Turnovers – BNL 6, North 14

Field goal percentage – BNL 23-43 (.535); North 6-38 (.158)

Free throw percentage – BNL 15-18 (.833); North 5-7 (.714)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email