Defense is the law as No.4 Stars chisel out 57-22 win over struggling South

BNL’s Chloe Spreen finds an opening for a jumper. Spreen scored 17 points as the No.4 Stars stopped Bloomington South 57-22 on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Every pass was contested, every dribble was harassed. The strain was more than Bloomington South could bear.

While the offense was definitely not a daisy, more thorns than flowers, Bedford North Lawrence chiseled the single-word epitaph “turnovers” on the tombstone of this latest victory. The Stars shot like guns with a bent eye sight, off target and scattered, but the defense was the law.

No.4 BNL forced 31 turnovers, swarming on the inexperienced Panthers from all angles, while storming to a 57-22 triumph on Tuesday night. Chloe Spreen had 17 points and Emma Crane came off the bench for a career-high 10 as the Stars (4-0) won the 11th straight game in the series.

Points were not the highlight. South (0-5) has been offensively challenged this season, and that trend continued as BNL’s quickness and tenacity did not relax. Against another opponent, the Stars might have been in trouble while firing blanks on their offensive end. But defense usually doesn’t take a night off.

The Stars never trailed, were never threatened after the margin hit double digits in the second quarter, and finally hit the button on the running clock with 2:16 left. They could have gotten to the mercy-rule point sooner, but missed jumpers and layups kept BNL a little frustrated and gun shy. BNL coach Jeff Allen could shrug off the misfires. Those happen. Defense doesn’t get a holiday, doc.

“There will be days like that,” Allen said. “I thought we played hard, we defended pretty well. We just didn’t make shots. The game is more difficult when you don’t make shots. You miss a couple and it starts getting in your head. But it was a great win.”

BNL took control quickly as Karsyn Norman and Spreen scored off back-to-back steals during a brief first-quarter flurry. The Stars went on a 9-0 run in the second on Spreen’s 3-pointer, Crane’s post bucket, Mallory Pride’s steal for a breakaway and two Spreen free throws. Madisyn Bailey’s rebound basket and another Norman theft for a layup shot the Stars to a 29-12 halftime lead.

The Stars scored 19 straight points in the second half, rumbling to a 53-16 advantage. Spreen and Hadley Teague swished treys, and Crane’s 3-pointer triggered the running clock at the end of that run. They were South’s huckleberry.

BNL’s Emma Crane fights inside for a rebound. Crane scored a career-high 10 points.

Not that it was anything of beauty. The Stars shot a chilled 38 percent overall (only 16 of 49 during the first three quarters), but the Panthers were overmatched. South scored the fewest points since totaling only 21 during a loss to Jeffersonville during the 2016-17 season, and the five-game skid is the program’s first since South lost the last seven games of the 2006-07 campaign.

Inexperience is South’s problem. The Panthers are learning on the fly and not getting very far off the ground while suffering through the growth pains.

“Basketball really doesn’t know age,” South coach Larry Winters said. “If you can play, you can play. Inexperience is a better word. Youth really has nothing to do with this game. BNL’s guards are juniors and sophomores, age doesn’t bother them too much. So it’s inexperience more than age. We’ll get better, the first five games have been pretty tough.

“Today our defense broke down. We weren’t very good in help situations, we gave up too many layups and offensive rebounds. Most of that was being so worried about getting beat to the basket, we were flat footed.”

BNL’s Madisyn Bailey eyes the rim from close range. Bailey scored 6 points.

Spreen had 13 points in the first half. Crane was one of the few Stars unaffected by the shooting disease that inflicted so many. That included 5 of 12 from the foul line, which was a cause for concern. But Crane’s contributions, her first significant impact since suffering a knee injury last season, were huge.

“She’s getting her basketball legs back,” Allen said. “Her and Ella (Turner) are doing an outstanding job coming off the bench.”

Caitlin Heim had 8 points while Abbie Lucas added 6 for South, which had as many turnovers as shot attempts. BNL’s smothering defense caused more deflections and hasty decisions than a rodent crossing a freeway at rush hour. That usually ends poorly.

“That’s how we’ll try to play,” Allen said. “We’re not as deep as we have been in the past, so for us to go baseline to baseline is a little tough. We have to be able to really pressure the ball in the halfcourt.

“Larry’s team will play hard. Right now they’re struggling and not very experienced. It’s a proud program, even though they’re down a little bit and rebuilding. Those kids won’t step aside for anybody.”

BNL, after three straight mercy-rule blowouts, will have to shift gears quickly. The Stars will visit No.3 North Central in Indianapolis on Friday night.

BNL’s Karsyn Norman heads toward the hoop after collecting a steal. The Stars forced 31 turnovers.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

33 Abbie Lucas, f 0-1 3-6 0-0 4 4 6

4 Caitlin Heim, f 0-0 3-5 2-2 4 3 8

21 Mya Lawrence, g 0-1 2-5 0-0 2 3 4

3 Carlie Pedersen, g 0-4 2-11 0-1 4 1 4

2 Arissa North, g 0-1 0-2 0-0 2 1 0

11 Molli Lucas 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 0

14 Grace McKay 0-0 0-3 0-0 2 0 0

31 Jayda Gooch 0-0 0-1 0-0 1 0 0

10 Kate Barada 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

22 Avery Beck 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 0-7 10-31 2-3 26 12 22


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

2 Chloe Spreen, f 2-4 6-14 3-4 7 1 17

24 Carlee Kern, f 1-1 2-6 0-0 1 0 5

22 Mallory Pride, f 1-3 3-7 0-0 6 1 7

32 Madisyn Bailey, g 0-3 3-9 0-4 7 1 6

21 Karsyn Norman, g 0-6 3-14 0-0 1 1 6

31 Ella Turner 0-0 1-3 1-2 5 1 3

50 Emma Crane 1-1 4-5 1-2 2 0 10

23 Hadley Teague 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 0 3

3 Katie Baumgart 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

40 Chesney Bay 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 6-20 23-60 5-12 33 5 57

B. South 6 6 4 6 – 22

Bedford NL 11 18 11 17 – 57

Turnovers – South 31, BNL 11

Field goal percentage – South 10-31 (.323); BNL 23-60 (.383)

Free throw percentage – South 2-3 (.667); BNL 5-12 (.417)