Defense is mandatory as Stars shut down Seymour in sectional opener

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Madison Webb works in the paint against Seymour’s Cali Cummings. Webb had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Stars slammed the Owls 59-26 in the opening game of the Class 4A sectional on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

NORTH VERNON – Opening night, the curtain rises, the lights shine bright. Stutter on a few lines with nervousness? Defense doesn’t suffer from stage fright.

Bedford North Lawrence started its sectional championship defense, its chase for a ninth consecutive Class 4A title, in royal style. Pomp and grandeur? On the defensive end, where crowns are earned, absolutely.

The No.15 Stars sentenced Seymour to season banishment, smothering the Owls 59-26 in the first game at Jennings County on Tuesday night. BNL (17-5) advanced to face New Albany (7-13) in the first semifinal on Friday.

Madison Webb and Irye Gomez scored 15 points each as BNL extended its remarkable sectional winning streak to 25 straight games. But that was not the major storyline. Offense is necessary, of course, but defense was mandatory. And the Stars took that to heart, cutting out Seymour’s heart in the process.

The Owls (8-17) were powerless. During the regular-season clash at Seymour, they hit 11 3-pointers to stay within respectable range during a 59-49 final. In the rematch, they hit one – banked that one, by the way, with 2:20 left in the blowout. History was not going to repeat. Seymour was held to its lowest point total of the season.

“We remembered that,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We tried to chase them off the line, trying to keep them sped up where they weren’t comfortable in the half court. The kids really executed the game plan well, played with a lot of energy, made it difficult for them to get good, clean looks.”

Seymour failed to break double digits in any quarter, shot a miserable 23 percent (including 1 of 18 from long distance), and got outrebounded 40-23. That adds up to a runaway almost every time.

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Gracie Crulo-Rood tracks down Seymour’s Aidan Hiester. BNL held Seymour to its lowest point total of the season.

And that didn’t take long. The Stars closed the first quarter with Webb’s layup off an inbound set and Chloe McKnight’s 3-pointer, then started the second with Webb’s transition basket, Gomez’s fast-break basket, and Webb’s rebound of a missed free throw for a 20-5 lead. Any threat was futile from that point.

“We really tried to crack down on our defense,” Gomez said. “Once we got that going, everything started going in the flow. And it became fun.”

Webb was the beast in the first half, scoring 12 as BNL bulled to a 26-12 lead at intermission. Gomez crashed the china shop in the third, erupting for 11 points as the Stars bellowed to a 43-17 advantage.

Karsyn Norman had 9 points and McKnight added 8 for the Stars, who were not especially crisp on offense. But the defense was brutal and devastating. The Owls had 19 turnovers.

“You know what? Those shots will go in,” Allen said. “If we can play defensively like that, we’ll be OK.

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Karsyn Norman attacks the basket against Seymour’s Grace Meyer. Norman scored 9 points.

“We talked about those two games (North Harrison and Salem) we gave up over 60 points. Going into this tournament, we talked about how defense wins championships. We got a little more aggressive on defense. That’s going to be a focus. We have to be able to stop people.”

Grace Meyer and Grace Schrader had 8 points each for the Owls. They combined for 27 and hit 11 of 22 shots the first meeting. Not this time.

“We just didn’t want them to have that kind of game against us again, especially in the sectional,” Gomez said. “Everybody always plays their best game against us. When we come out and beat them by 30, that’s good.”

BNL was good in transition, with Gomez running the floor as the finisher, with Norman finding Webb on the move, with BNL converting steals into breakouts. Webb was the main glass cleaner with 11 rebounds.

“The defense does that,” Allen said. “When your defense is good, it creates offense. When people scout us, they try to take stuff away. But if we get out in transition off our defense, that’s going to help that.

“That’s all about getting better. We’re better now than we were in December.”

Jeffersonville 49, Floyd Central 38 – In the other first-round game, the Red Devils completed a season sweep of the Highlanders and advanced to the second semifinal.

Lily Haire had 15 points and Kiersten Poor added 10 for Jeffersonville (14-10). Keegan Kaiser totaled 16 points for Floyd Central (5-18).

The Devils will meet Jennings County (9-14) on Friday. The championship is set for Saturday night.

NORTH VERNON – BNL’s Chloe McKnight drives into traffic. McKnight scored 8 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (59)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 1-5 7-16 0-0 3 2 15

32 Madison Webb, c 0-1 6-11 3-6 11 0 15

11 Chloe McKnight, g 1-4 2-9 3-4 5 2 8

24 Gracie Crulo-Rood, g 0-1 1-2 3-3 6 2 5

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

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

23 Jenna Louden 0-0 1-3 0-0 5 4 2

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

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

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

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

2 Emma Brown 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

Totals 4-15 23-53 9-14 40 14 59

SEYMOUR OWLS (26)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Grace Meyer, f 0-4 3-12 2-2 7 2 8

20 Grace Schrader, f 0-2 3-7 2-3 7 3 8

10 Aidan Hiester, g 0-2 0-6 2-3 1 4 2

3 Alyssa Perry, g 0-7 1-9 0-0 2 1 2

1 Jamya Miller, g 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 0

24 Cali Cummings 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

23 Brooke Turner 1-2 2-5 1-2 2 1 6

2 Eliza Cash 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

12 Kaylee Waskom 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

13 Kendrick Sterling 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 1-18 9-40 7-10 23 13 26

Bedford NL 14 12 17 16 – 59

Seymour 5 7 5 9 – 26

Turnovers – BNL 11, Seymour 19

Field goal percentage – BNL 23-53 (.434); Seymour 9-40 (.225)

Free throw percentage – BNL 9-14 (.643); Seymour 7-10 (.700)

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