No.2 Stars shoot their way to impressive victory over Castle

BNL’s Irye Gomez scores over Castle’s Ky Hay-Swope during Saturday afternoon’s clash of 4A powers. Gomez scored 15 points as the No.2 Stars stopped the Knights 60-38.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

BEDFORD – When every bounce of the ball is contested, when each possession is fought like a defense attorney in court, objecting to everything, the best way to prevent a mistake is shooting it.

The ball was never in the hands of Chloe McKnight and Irye Gomez long enough to attract a swarm of defenders. They were in catch-and-launch mode, and Bedford North Lawrence’s senior stars were on target as the Stars shot down a fierce foe.

McKnight and Gomez, opposite wings with a common stroke, combined to hit nine 3-pointers as the No.2 Stars stormed No.12 Castle 60-38 on Saturday afternoon in a four-star matinee clash. They both scored 15 points as BNL (14-1) thundered to its 10th consecutive win.

This one could have future reference, if both teams reach the regional. That would not be surprising, the way both play ferocious defense. BNL has some impressive victories this season, and this one was certainly quality enough to rank high on that list.

The Stars were dominant in almost every key phase. They shot brilliantly, they took away Castle’s main offensive threat, they dominated the boards. They rose to the occasion.

“The better team won,” Castle coach Bob Meier said. “They deserved to win. They were ready to play. They set the tone early, hit some early shots, and that builds confidence.

“We don’t feel like we gave them our best shot. We needed awareness and presence today, they know who their shooters are. And their shooters hit shots. That’s good stuff.”

BNL’s Chloe McKnight scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

BNL took control with a 13-0 spurt in the first half. Gomez popped a left wing trey, Chloe Spreen got free for a layup off a press turnover, and McKnight swished a bomb for a 15-9 lead after the first quarter. Spreen scored in transition and Makena Moore buried a long jumper to start the second with a double-digit advantage, and only once from that point did Castle claw within striking range (25-16).

That window of opportunity was slammed shut as Jenna Louden scored on the break, McKnight splashed another trey, Haley Deckard converted in the post and Gomez cashed another bonus bomb for a 36-21 lead at intermission.

“I go back to the effort,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We’re playing so hard. That’s a team that’s a mirror of us on the defensive end, and we were wrestling for loose balls, going down for long rebounds. I just like the effort. It was outstanding.

“That team was not going away. We had to stay involved and stay focused. We know they’re a worthy opponent. They’re a tough team to score against.”

McKnight hit all of her shots from distance, and she added 9 rebounds. The Stars were a crisp 11 of 21 from the bonus line.

BNL’s Haley Deckard finds an opening in the paint.

“We shot the ball well, moved the ball and got it to the open person,” McKnight said. “We knew we needed to boost our confidence, not let them take the ball from us. They’re really good at pressuring the ball. They’re a lot like us.”

Not this time. Castle (8-3) couldn’t match the BNL firepower. Jordan Coon had 12 points and Ky Hay-Swope added 10, but junior standout Natalie Niehaus was limited to 4 points on 1 of 11 shooting. The Knights were only 12 of 41 overall.

“We didn’t shoot well,” Meier said. “We had something to do with that, they had a lot to do with that. They’re a wonderful team. They have all the things they need.”

BNL’s only glitch was 15 turnovers, although Castle’s blitzkrieg defense was part of that. When the Stars did get in scoring range, they took advantage.

“We’re going to be at a high level when we shoot that way, with the effort we’re giving on the defensive end,” Allen said.

McKnight’s board work and Jenna Louden’s 6 rebounds helped the Stars to a 28-16 edge in that key category. Castle got very few second-chance points.

“Jenna just has a knack for that,” Allen said. “Some guards are focused on getting the ball. She’s one you love to have as a guard. When Chloe defensive rebounds, we’re really hard to beat. She did a great job.”

BNL will continue a brutal schedule stretch on Tuesday, visiting Columbus East in a huge battle for the Hoosier Hills Conference lead.

BNL’s Chloe Spreen looks for a way past Castle’s Natalie Niehaus. Spreen scored 8 points.

CASTLE KNIGHTS (38)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

32 Natalie Niehaus, f 0-5 1-12 2-2 5 1 4

24 Megan Kain, g 0-0 0-3 0-0 1 1 0

12 Keira Moore, g 0-0 2-3 2-4 1 0 6

22 Ky Hay-Swope, g 1-1 3-5 3-4 4 3 10

3 Jordan Coon, g 3-4 3-7 3-4 1 0 12

30 Devyn Barton 0-1 3-9 0-0 3 2 6

40 Kiersten Niehaus 0-2 0-2 0-0 0 0 0

42 Aleyna Quinn 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

21 Campbell McBride 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

10 Taylor Young 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 4-13 12-41 10-14 16 8 38

BEDFORD NL STARS (60)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 3-6 6-10 0-0 1 1 15

11 Chloe McKnight, f 5-8 5-8 0-0 9 2 15

2 Chloe Spreen, f 0-1 4-7 0-0 4 4 8

21 Karsyn Norman, g 1-1 3-3 0-2 4 3 7

23 Jenna Louden, g 0-1 2-5 1-2 6 3 5

24 Carlee Kern 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

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

12 Makena Moore 1-3 2-4 0-0 1 0 5

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

32 Madisyn Bailey 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 3

20 Emma Brown 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

50 Emma Crane 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

31 Ella Turner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 11-21 24-41 1-4 28 15 60

Castle 9 12 6 11 – 38

Bedford NL 15 21 9 15 – 60

Turnovers – Castle 13, BNL 15

Field goal percentage – Castle 12-41 (.293); BNL 24-41 (.586)

Free throw percentage – Castle 10-14 (.714); BNL 1-4 (.250)

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