By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Live by the sword, die by it. That’s the old proverb, proven true countless times. For Bedford North Lawrence, the sharpened blade of choice has been the 3-point shot. Jeffersonville found out just how deadly that weapon can be in the hands of masters.
When the Stars invaded Johnson Arena on Dec. 8 for the regular-season clash with the Red Devils, they spewed the fire of dragons, leaving scorched earth behind them while hitting a school-record 18 treys. Guess what the Devils have made their top priority for the rematch?
The sword fight will take place 20 feet from the basket when No.3 BNL (19-2) duels with the Devils (6-11) in the second sectional semifinal at New Albany on Friday night. Jennings County (15-6) will collide with Floyd Central (7-14) in the first semifinal, with the winners to meet in the championship on Saturday night.
BNL’s firestorm that night was awesome. Chloe McKnight and Karsyn Norman hit five apiece, Chloe Spreen swished four to highlight the barrage. When the smoke cleared, the Stars were 84-37 victors. And when reminded of those 18 bombs that landed, BNL coach Jeff Allen joked “We’ll try for 19.”
Jeffersonville coach Missy Voyles will start her defensive game plan for the rematch by circling the 3-point arc.
“You can’t give threes,” Voyles said. “You have to get out on their shooters, you have to pressure that and make them do something else. You can’t give the dead-eye look because they’re just phenomenal outside shooters. Every single drill we’ve done this week, it’s get hands up on the shooters. We’ll do what we can to prepare for them.”
BNL promised a high-tempo, free-wheeling attack this season, and the Stars have definitely delivered. They’ve hit 164 3-pointers this season, and their attempted treys have constituted 45 percent of their attempts.
McKnight and Irye Gomez have made 40 percent from long range.
That was the first part of Jeffersonville’s trouble during the first meeting. The second part of the equation was Jeffersonville’s 27 turnovers. The Devils have made that the utmost importance the second half of the season.
“We’ve cut down on our turnovers, and hopefully we’ll continue to do that into the sectional,” Voyles said. “I’ve been pleased with our ballhandling the last couple of weeks, we’ve been smarter about what we’re doing.
“I’m proud of our kids. We’ve had a ton of injuries this year, we just keep rolling. Considering the adversity and as young as they are, they’ve progressed a lot.”
Jeffersonville does have momentum of solid play the last two weeks. The Devils pushed Jennings County before falling 61-53, then conquered New Albany (54-40) and Scottsburg (55-51) prior to the tournament.
“We played well down there, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen them,” Allen said. “I’m sure they’ve gotten better. It will be us playing well on the defensive end. If we do that, we can dictate what we need to do on the offensive end.
“We shot the ball well against them the last time. But it’s the next one up right now. That’s what we’re focused on. We’re not thinking about Saturday, we’re thinking about Jeffersonville. We’ll get ready for Jeffersonville. We’ll give them our best.”
Jennings County vs. Floyd Central: In the first semifinal, the Panthers will seek a season sweep of the Highlanders after they cruised to a 55-25 victory on Jan. 26. JC freshman Juliann Woodard was the dominant force that night with 22 points, and she scored 25 during Jennings’ opening-round win over Seymour on Tuesday.
IHSAA SECTIONAL 15
Class 4A at New Albany
BNL vs. JEFFERSONVILLE
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: BNL 19-2, ranked No.3 in Class 4A; Jeffersonville 6-11
Sagarin ratings: BNL 99.88; Jeffersonville 69.77
Last meeting: On Dec. 8 at Jeffersonville, the Stars blasted the Red Devils 84-37, hitting a school-record 18 3-pointers. Karsyn Norman scored 21 points and Chloe McKnight added 19 for BNL. Tatum McFarland had 12 points for Jeffersonville.
Game notes: BNL owns a 28-game sectional winning streak, the 10th longest in state history. The school record is 42 straight (which ended in 1998). BNL has beaten Jeffersonville 7 consecutive times in postseason play. The Devils won their last sectional in 2011 (the year they won the state championship).
Bedford NL Stars
F – Irye Gomez 5-9 Sr.
F – Chloe McKnight 5-9 Sr.
F – Chloe Spreen 5-9 Fr.
G – Karsyn Norman 5-6 So.
G – Jenna Louden 5-6 Sr.
Jeffersonville Red Devils
F – Nevaeh Bates 5-8 Jr.
F – Aida Estes 6-0 Sr.
G – Tatum McFarland 5-7 So.
G – Sophia Reese 5-6 So.
G – Elle Marble 5-7 Fr.
JENNINGS COUNTY vs. FLOYD CENTRAL
When: Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Records: Jennings County 15-6; Floyd Central 7-14
Sagarin ratings: Jennings County 82.42; Floyd Central 59.83
Last meeting: On Jan. 26 at Jennings County, the Panthers rolled to a 55-25 victory. Juliann Woodard had 22 points and Addyson Kent added 12 for JC. Keegan Kaiser had 8 points for the Highlanders.
Game notes: Jennings County won its last sectional title in 2005, while Floyd Central won its last in 2010. The Highlanders haven’t won a sectional game since 2013.
Jennings County Panthers
F – Lily Ernstes 5-8 Jr.
F – Juliann Woodard 6-0 Fr.
G – Addyson Kent 5-7 Sr.
G – Brooke Mowery 5-4 Sr.
G – Kali Thompson 5-4 Jr.
Floyd Central Highlanders
F – Grace Sauer 5-8 Sr.
F – Kendall Brown 5-6 Jr.
G – Mandy Hess 5-7 So.
G – Keegan Kaiser 5-9 Jr.
G – Sophie Gasaway 5-3 Sr.