No. 2 Lions roar late as Salem cracks BNL 69-58

SALEM – BNL freshman Karsyn Norman drives to the basket against Salem’s Hope Tomlinson. Norman had 11 points, but the Class 3A No.2 Lions stopped the Stars 69-58 on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

SALEM – Karly Sweeney, a daredevil on the wing of the Salem zone, played the passing lane perfectly. Snatched the soft pass, streaked to the other end, and Salem roared with her. Twice in the fourth quarter, once to stun Bedford North Lawrence and once to finish the knockout.

These Lions not only had claws, they were vicious hunters, tracking down a signature victory.

Sweeney’s thievery ignited a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter as Salem, ranked No.2 in Class 3A and definitely worthy of the acclaim, smacked the Class 4A No.13 Stars 69-58 on Tuesday night. Sweeney had 18 points and Hope Tomlinson added 16 as the Lions (18-3) ended BNL’s eight-game winning streak.

BNL (15-5), for the second consecutive road outing, couldn’t contain an explosive offensive team, and this time the offense wasn’t a bailout. The Stars were icy from distance, and Salem was not, shooting a crisp 58 percent – a total 180-degree turn from the team that was inexplicably 1-for-27 from 3-point range during a loss last week.

Sometimes nothing is predictable.

“We’ve been in a little slump, but we like playing at home,” Salem coach Jerry Hickey said. “Do you tell your best shooters to stop shooting? No way.”

Madison Webb, allowed to roam free in the midst of Salem’s zone, scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Hickey was willing to trade that for BNL’s 6-for-22 night from long range. Worked like a charm.

The key moments came in the fourth. After Webb sliced the lane for a bucket and a 51-51 deadlock, Tomlinson gave Salem its last lead with a free throw, and Sweeney extended it with the first of her steals for a breakaway. From that point, the Stars lost a little poise and containment of Salem’s back-cut offense as Tomlinson darted inside for a layup and Sweeney converted another step-in steal for a runout and 62-53 lead with 1:19 left. BNL was not coming back.

SALEM – BNL’s Madison Webb works inside against Salem’s Lettie Nice. Webb had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“She’s been doing that all year,” Hickey said of the game-changing steals. “It’s hard to harness her sometimes. I told her, sometimes I want to kick her, sometimes I want to kiss her. Those two plays, I wanted to kiss her. Those were huge for us.”

Salem erupted for 25 fourth-quarter points, the most BNL has surrendered in any period this season, and did it ruthlessly with 12-of-15 shooting from the line.

Webb had a strong double-double and added 5 assists. Irye Gomez totaled 15 points, 13 in the first half as BNL rallied from an early 23-18 deficit for a 29-27 lead at intermission. Karsyn Norman hit 3 treys and totaled 11 points.

That wasn’t enough when defensive stops were too few. Abigail Ratts came off the bench for 15 points for the Lions.

“They played well and we didn’t,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “That’s a bad scenario, when the other team shoots well and you don’t. On the road, that’s what happens.

“They made plays tonight. We weren’t as sharp as we have been. We didn’t make plays, didn’t make shots. You have to do that against a good team on the road. We didn’t get it done tonight.

SALEM – BNL’s Irye Gomez had 13 first-half points and finished with 15.

“It‘s unfortunate. It hurts right now but let’s go on. Coming down here and not playing our best is disappointing. We fought but didn’t make plays we needed to. We had to fight from behind and didn’t get any breaks. On the road, that’s the way it goes.”

Webb was a force, hitting 4 straight shots in the third quarter as the lead exchanged hands eight times during that frame. BNL, outside the 11-2 run that flipped the lead in the second quarter, couldn’t build momentum with an extended burst.

“We contained their shooters,” Hickey said. “We paid a lot of attention to Chloe (McKnight), making sure she didn’t get loose. We were convinced, if we ran them off the 3-point line, we could let Madison have her way inside. We know she’s great, but we were willing to take that.”

Salem, now 7-0 against Hoosier Hills Conference teams this season (conquering everyone but Columbus East in the league), could claim a mythical HHC title. The Lions would prefer their own Mid-Southern (which they can win a piece of against Austin on Thursday) and the sectional championship next week.

“More than anything, this win means we’re heading into sectional playing better than we were last week,” Hickey said. “After the loss to West Washington, our confidence was shaken a little. This says we’re back where we need to be.”

BNL will cap the regular season on Saturday against Terre Haute North, then look to win its ninth straight 4A sectional title when the tournament begins at Jennings County on Tuesday.

SALEM – BNL’s Jenna Louden looks for room to work. Louden scored 5 points off the bench.

BEDFORD NL STARS (58)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 1-7 5-12 4-4 1 2 15

32 Madison Webb, c 0-0 8-17 4-4 12 3 20

11 Chloe McKnight, g 1-8 2-11 0-0 7 4 5

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

21 Karsyn Norman, g 3-6 4-9 0-0 0 3 11

23 Jenna Louden 1-1 1-1 2-2 2 1 5

40 Haley Deckard 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

12 Makena Moore 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 6-22 21-53 10-10 26 14 58

SALEM LIONS (69)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

13 Natalie Noel, f 0-4 1-6 0-0 5 2 2

44 Lettie Nice, c 0-0 2-2 0-0 8 2 4

23 Karly Sweeney, g 1-1 5-8 7-7 1 2 18

20 Hope Tomlinson, g 2-3 6-8 2-4 2 0 16

3 Callie Backherms, g 2-2 2-4 5-6 1 0 11

15 Abigail Ratts 0-0 6-9 3-4 5 1 15

32 Bailey Hypes 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

33 Macie Tomlinson 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 1 3

Totals 6-12 23-40 17-21 24 8 69

Bedford NL 16 13 15 14 – 58

Salem 16 11 17 25 – 69

Turnovers – BNL 9, Salem 10

Technical foul – BNL bench

Field goal percentage – BNL 21-53 (.396); Salem 23-40 (.575)

Free throw percentage – BNL 10-10 (1.000); Salem 17-21 (.809)

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