East strikes early, holds off No.2 BNL in key battle for HHC lead

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Chloe McKnight drives to the basket against Columbus East’s Leah Bachmann. McKnight scored 18 points, but the No.2 Stars fell to East 67-66 in a battle for the top spot in the Hoosier Hills Conference on Tuesday night.
Photo courtesy of Cody Bailey

COLUMBUS – Columbus East sent shockwaves across the state, conquering Class 4A No.2 Bedford North Lawrence 67-66 in a key battle for the top spot in the Hoosier Hills Conference on Tuesday night.

The Olympians (10-5) jumped to 5-0 in the league and took control of the race for the championship. East, which won its last HHC crown in 2008, took a huge step toward that goal and ended a nine-year losing streak to the Stars.

East blasted to a 24-3 lead as the Stars (14-2, 5-1 in the HHC) went 1-for-15 during a dreadful opening. BNL battled back, even took the lead at 66-65 on an Irye Gomez layup with 53 seconds left. But after two East free throws, BNL had two shots and a final possession (which ended in a turnover) to escape. This time, the Stars could not.

“I thought East made some plays when they had to make plays,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “Typically we do that. Tonight we didn’t. It’s a tough loss. As far as the conference race, it puts us in a bad spot.”

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Irye Gomez finds an opening to the basket. Gomez scored 20 points.
Photo courtesy of Cody Bailey

BNL, which has shared the last three league titles, must now conquer Floyd Central on Saturday and hope for help as the Olympians finish their conference slate with New Albany (on Saturday) and Jennings County (on Jan. 21).

The Stars got put in that position by the horrendous start, thanks to the horrible shooting and 8 turnovers.

“That’s not a good thing on the road, and I thought East played really well,” Allen said. “I think you have to give them some credit.

“We battled our way back. I’m proud of them for fighting their way back. We just got sped up because we started missing shots, then we started scrambling defensively, giving them open lanes to the basket against the press.”

The Stars scratched within striking range by forcing 10 East turnovers in the second quarter, closing the gap to 39-28. After cutting that deficit to 51-45 heading to the final frame, they went ahead for the first time (64-63) on Chloe McKnight’s 3-pointer with 1:47 left.

BNL got the ball back with that edge, but a turnover gave East another chance, and the Olympians converted two free throws. Gomez’s baseline layup put BNL in front again, but Koryn Greiwe made a pair at the line for the 67-66 score with 36 seconds remaining.

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Chloe Spreen and Karsyn Norman battle for a loose ball.
Photo courtesy of Laverne Sorrells Photography

BNL missed a corner trey and the offensive rebound attempt, but East missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 11.7 seconds left. BNL’s final chance was wasted with a turnover.

“We made some adjustments, fought our way back, had a lead late,” Allen said. “And we made some bad decisions. We were sped up all night long, forcing passes that weren’t there. We were in a hurry, trying to play from behind. Maybe I should have done a couple of things differently at the end. I have to take some off the blame.

“When you get down 20 against a good team, it’s a tough battle back. I’m proud of them for making that comeback and stand at the end.”

Greiwe paced East with 22 points, Gabby Dean had 13, and Saige Stahl totaled 10.

“We had to be at our best tonight,” East coach Danny Brown said. “And for the most part, we were.”

Gomez had 20 points and McKnight finished with 5 treys while scoring 18 for the Stars.

BNL will have little time to recover. The Stars will visit Class 3A No.1 Silver Creek on Thursday. The Dragons (15-2) clipped Madison 46-38 on Tuesday.

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Jenna Louden tracks her defensive assignment. Louden scored 8 points.
Photo courtesy of Cody Bailey

BEDFORD NL STARS (66)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 3-9 8-17 1-2 4 3 20

11 Chloe McKnight, f 5-13 6-15 1-2 7 2 18

2 Chloe Spreen, f 0-3 3-8 0-0 7 3 6

21 Karsyn Norman, g 1-6 3-11 0-0 4 4 7

23 Jenna Louden, g 2-5 2-5 2-2 5 0 8

40 Haley Deckard 0-0 1-2 2-2 1 1 4

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

24 Carlee Kern 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 1

Totals 11-37 24-61 7-10 31 13 66

COLUMBUS EAST OLYMPIANS (67)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

23 Leah Bachmann, f 0-0 2-6 2-2 1 3 6

20 Saige Stahl, f 0-1 5-8 2-2 1 0 12

32 Gabby Dean, c 0-0 5-6 3-4 11 2 13

2 Koryn Greiwe, g 3-4 7-9 5-5 7 1 22

14 Maeleigh Roberts, g 0-4 0-4 0-0 0 2 0

3 Albany Speer 2-4 4-6 0-1 1 2 10

22 Emma Jenkins 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 2

25 Kaitlyn Carothers 0-0 1-1 0-0 1 0 2

Totals 5-13 25-41 12-14 23 10 67

Bedford NL 3 25 17 21 – 66

Columbus East 22 17 12 16 – 67

Turnovers – BNL 21, Columbus East 25

Field goal percentage – BNL 24-61 (.393); East 25-41 (.610)

Free throw percentage – BNL 7-10 (.700); East 12-14 (.857)

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