No.3 Stars absorb a smack, finally subdue Devils in sectional semifinal

NEW ALBANY – BNL’s Chloe Spreen finds an opening from close range. Spreen scored 18 points as the No.3 Stars conquered Jeffersonville 62-36 in the sectional semifinal on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

WBIW.com

NEW ALBANY – Somebody got smacked in the mouth. Not literally, because that’s frowned upon in this game, but figuratively. And the team doing the smacking was the one that got absolutely blown out during the regular season clash.

Bedford North Lawrence had the swollen lip. But like a champion fighter, licking off his own blood and smiling a little wryly, the Stars answered with the scoring blows and finally knocked out the scrappy underdog.

No.3 BNL took Jeffersonville’s best shots and fended off the fiery Red Devils in Friday night’s Class 4A sectional semifinal. Chloe Spreen scored 18 points and Karsyn Norman added 16 as the Stars lumbered to a 62-36 victory, earning their 29th consecutive sectional triumph and advancing to the final against Jennings County on Saturday night.

That final separation does not do the Devils justice. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, BNL (20-2) was nervously clinging to a 30-27 lead, and the upset alarms were buzzing just a bit. It never got that serious, although the angst was building – perhaps because BNL has been spoiled by its 9 straight sectional titles and its ability to crush the competition. The champion, once blood was tasted, responded. The Stars went on a 15-0 run to pull away. End of the drama.

Another 15-5 burst in the fourth quarter. End of the night for the Devils (6-12), who had absorbed an 84-37 thrashing during the first clash on Dec. 8. That night the Stars were sensational, hitting a record 18 3-pointers. This night they were mortal.

“When we don’t shoot well, it affects us sometimes,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “Tonight was one of those nights. Hopefully we got that out of our system.”

BNL was 2 for 12 from distance in the first half. In fact, Jeffersonville tore a page right out of the BNL playbook. The Devils erased a 24-7 deficit with four straight bombs. The Devils pressed the pressers and BNL squirmed in discomfort. When the Devils, down 28-19 at the half, started the third quarter with two more treys and a layup, the margin was 30-27 and some buzz was measurable.

NEW ALBANY – BNL’s Karsyn Norman slices through defensive traffic. Norman scored 16 points.

“We weren’t going to play scared,” Jeffersonville coach Missy Voyles said. “They weren’t going to rain threes on us again. We ran them off the line and played like we were supposed to play.”

BNL broke away with six solid minutes. Spreen popped an 8-footer in the lane, Irye Gomez ripped a corner trey, Carlee Kern scored off an inbound set, Gomez raced to a layup, and Chloe McKnight connected from the top of the key. The Devils had 9 turnovers during that spurt.

“Sometimes it will be like that, it will be hard,” Allen said. “It‘s your defense that gets you through, and in the second half, when they closed, we decided we had enough. But you have to give Jeff credit. They played well.

“It’s the tournament. The other team is playing hard, too. We didn’t make shots, and it affected us mentally. We got a little frustrated.”

BNL blasted away late as Spreen and Norman converted 3-point plays while Gomez and McKnight added two more treys. That pair was 0-for-the-first-half but came back to combine for 17 points in the second.

Early, Norman and Spreen did the heavy lifting. Norman had 9 points in the first quarter and Spreen scored twice to start the second, giving BNL that 24-7 comfort lead. Another blowout looked inevitable. It just took longer than expected.

NEW ALBANY – BNL’s Carlee Kern launches a jumper. Kern scored a season-high 9 points off the bench.

“They’re better than they were when we played them in December,” Allen said. “Good coaching goes a long way.

“Any coach will tell you, when you get in a tournament, you’ll have to play with adversity. If you can do that, you have a chance to advance. It’s when you can’t that it becomes a problem and the kids panic.”

Sophia Reese, who gunned in three treys during the Jeff comeback, had 11 points for the Devils while Elle Marble added 8. Jeffersonville was guilty of 26 turnovers.

In addition to the BNL leaders, Kern came off the bench for 9 huge points, Gomez totaled 9 and McKnight added 8. So in all the bluster and fuss over BNL’s lack of spectacular quality, form still held true. BNL was a pedestrian 6 of 19 from deep. The Stars found other ways.

“Makena (Moore) and Carlee did a great job off the bench,” Allen said. “They gave us stability, they played well, and you have to have that when you have adversity.

“We talked about Chloe and Karsyn elevating their game, and I think they’ve done that, If they continue to do that, it makes it easier. We got stops when we needed to and got enough shots to fall. We played OK. We’ll have to play better tomorrow.”

BNL will face the Panthers in the championship game for the second straight year. The winner will advance to the two-game regional at BNL on Feb. 13.

Jennings County 44, Floyd Central 32: The Panthers (16-6) struggled to put away the Highlanders, scrambling to a 23-15 lead at the half. They pulled free as Kali Thompson and Brooke Mowery hit 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Thompson scored 12 points, freshman center Juliann Woodard added 10, and star guard Addyson Kent had 11 for Jennings. Grace Suer had 11 points for Floyd (7-15).

NEW ALBANY – BNL’s Irye Gomez looks for an escape path against defensive pressure. Gomez totaled 9 points.

BEDFORD NL STARS (62)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Irye Gomez, f 2-5 3-8 1-2 3 5 9

11 Chloe McKnight, f 2-8 3-10 0-1 5 3 8

2 Chloe Spreen, f 0-1 6-13 6-9 4 1 18

21 Karsyn Norman, g 1-3 6-11 3-3 5 0 16

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

24 Carlee Kern 1-2 3-4 2-2 0 2 9

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

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

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

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

31 Ella Turner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 6-19 22-46 12-17 27 12 62

JEFFERSONVILLE RED DEVILS (36)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

22 Aija Estes, f 0-0 0-3 0-0 4 4 0

23 Bailey Gibson, f 1-2 1-3 0-0 2 2 3

25 Tatum McFarland, g 2-3 2-4 0-0 0 1 6

3 Sophie Reese, g 3-5 4-7 0-0 2 2 11

4 Elle Marble, g 2-6 3-8 0-1 3 1 8

11 Navaeh Bates 0-0 1-3 0-0 3 2 2

33 Myah Johnson 0-0 0-3 3-4 2 0 3

15 Maranda Mason 0-0 0-3 3-4 2 0 3

21 Lauren Gillenwater 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 1 0

5 La’Kyra Johnson 0-0 0-1 1-2 0 0 1

32 Averielle Baker 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

34 Ny’Anza Palmer 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 8-15 12-33 4-7 22 15 36

Bedford NL 18 10 17 17 – 62

Jeffersonville 7 12 10 7 – 36

Turnovers – BNL 16, Jeffersonville 26

Field goal percentage – BNL 22-46 (.478); Jeffersonville 12-33 (.364)

Free throw percentage – BNL 12-17 (.706); Jeffersonville 4-7 (.571)

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