Tears and triumph as Stars celebrate Senior Day with rout of TH North

BNL senior Madison Webb challenges Terre Haute North’s Shaelynn Bell in the low post. Webb had 9 points and 9 rebounds on Senior Day as the Stars slammed the Patriots 69-39 on Saturday afternoon.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – From one viewpoint, this was a farewell as Bedford North Lawrence honored three seniors for their contributions and sacrifices to the program. From another, this was welcome back to a defense that had been missing.

The senior celebration caused a few tears. BNL’s defensive tenacity during the last three quarters probably caused a few to be shed on the Terre Haute North sideline.

Bidding goodbye to seniors Madison Webb, Gracie Crulo-Rood and Peyton Sweet, the Stars wiped away a messy start and wiped out the Patriots 69-39 on Saturday afternoon. Irye Gomez led a balanced attack with 14 points as BNL rebounded from a disappointing loss at Salem with a blowout win in the regular-season finale.

The last performance before the postseason can be crucial, because momentum is so critical. BNL (16-5 and ranked No.13 in Class 4A) needed to solidify its confidence and rev the engines for another furious run at a sectional championship. And it needed to rediscover the defensive mindset. BNL’s last two opponents had cracked the 60-point mark, which had not happened in 11 years.

After the Patriots (10-13) zipped to a 16-15 lead after the first quarter as BNL struggled with the emotions of the moment, those tentacles came out. North didn’t crack double digits during any of the final three periods, and went 6:20 with only one point to start the second half.

“You have to give Terre Haute North credit, they made shots early,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “But with that energy and passion, our defense is so much better. We just had purpose today, trying to get steals, get traps and really pressure the basketball. That’s the way we like to play.”

BNL’s Chloe McKnight slides under North’s Shaelynn Bell for a shot. McKnight scored 12 points.

Webb got the Stars started with three quick baskets in the low post, but North’s Zoe Stewart scored three straight times as the Patriots pushed out 16-10. Opps, what was happening? Spoil this party?

No way, thanks to BNL’s bench. Haley Deckard’s 3-point play ended the first quarter, and Makena Moore started the second with a 15-footer and a corner trey. Carlee Kern added another bench bucket on a Webb dish, and suddenly BNL was in front 24-16.

The Stars owned a 32-24 lead at intermission, then hammered North into the hardwood. Gomez ignited a burst with a 3-pointer, Webb drove the baseline for a basket, Deckard added a baseline 6-footer, and Jenna Louden zipped through the lane for a layup. Gomez raced in transition for back-to-back layups, and the margin was 50-25 before North’s Anslee Michael ended the drought with 1:40 left in the third.

End the drama. Cut the cake, the celebration was under way.

BNL’s Haley Deckard battles for a rebound. Deckard came off the bench to total 9 points.

Chloe McKnight added 12 points, Webb totaled 9 points and 9 rebounds, and Deckard finished with 9 points. Everybody who saw action scored. BNL had only 4 turnovers.

“To me, it was a great team effort,” Allen said. “We had great play from kids coming off the bench. I thought the energy was good. It’s a great bounce-back win. We feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”

Stewart had 15 points for the Patriots.

Webb, Crulo-Rood and Sweet were in the spotlight, making their final appearances in BNL Fieldhouse. They fought through the turbulence of the hyper-emotions, making that sweet but dreaded walk to midcourt during the pregame introductions of parents. BNL hasn’t lost a Senior game in 10 years.

“It was a special Senior Day with those three kids,” Allen said. “I thought they went out with class. They’ve got not only themselves to thank for that, but their teammates. I thought their teammates gave them great support today.”

“I was a mess,” Webb admitted. “I was a mess at first because all the feelings hit me at once. Especially when Gracie and Peyton walked out there to center court with the parents. I lost it, but as the game went on I had fun. Today was really important. I thought we played well.”

BNL will now pivot to the sectional. The Stars will seek their ninth consecutive championship, starting that drive against Seymour in the opening game of the Class 4A tournament at Jennings County on Tuesday night.

“It was important to win today,” Crulo-Rood said. “We have to get a good start for the sectional.”

BNL’s Makena Moore breaks open in the circle. Moore scored 5 points.

TERRE HAUTE NORTH PATRIOTS (39)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

40 Shaelynn Bell, f 0-3 1-8 3-4 2 1 5

21 Abigail Wright, f 0-0 1-1 0-2 5 3 2

33 Anslee Michael, g 1-4 2-7 2-4 3 0 7

24 Preslee Michael, g 0-3 2-8 0-0 1 3 4

22 Zoe Stewart, g 2-3 6-9 1-2 5 4 15

30 Stella Hart 2-2 2-3 0-0 2 0 6

14 Emma Saunders 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

34 Halie Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0-0 5 1 0

3 Courtney Bullard 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 0 0

Totals 5-15 14-37 6-14 26 12 39

BEDFORD NL STARS (69)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 2-5 5-11 2-2 2 1 14

50 Peyton Sweet, f 0-0 0-1 1-2 2 2 1

32 Madison Webb, c 0-2 4-11 1-4 9 0 9

11 Chloe McKnight, g 2-7 2-9 6-8 3 1 12

24 Gracie Crulo-Rood, g 0-1 2-5 0-0 4 3 4

21 Karsyn Norman 1-3 3-7 0-0 2 2 7

12 Makena Moore 1-1 2-3 0-0 3 2 5

23 Jenna Louden 0-0 1-2 2-2 1 0 4

40 Haley Deckard 0-0 3-5 3-3 3 1 9

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

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

Totals 6-18 24-56 15-21 33 12 69

TH North 16 8 8 7 – 39

Bedford NL 15 17 20 17 – 69

Turnovers – TH North 17, BNL 4

Field goal percentage – TH North 14-37 (.378); BNL 24-56 (.429)

Free throw percentage – TH North 6-14 (.429); BNL 15-21 (.714)

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