By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Beauty is where you find it. According to Confucius, everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. Even something as unattractive as sloppy basketball, and there were warts on this one, can have hidden quality and redeeming features.
So in the midst of frustrating frown moments, there were gems. Silver linings amidst cloudy play. Chloe Spreen’s sweet perimeter shot, for example. Or Mallory Pride’s hustle points. Or Bedford North Lawrence’s cat-reflex quickness on defense.
The prettiest part of BNL’s down-and-dirty battle with Jeffersonville? The first W in the Hoosier Hills Conference race.
Despite the lack of style points, the fourth-ranked Stars slogged through fatigue and messiness for a 53-31 triumph over the Red Devils on Saturday night. Spreen scored 19 points, Pride totaled a career-high 14, and BNL (6-0) backed up its high-profile win over North Central just 24 hours earlier with a springboard victory toward the coveted conference title.
Perhaps it’s a bit conceited to think of a 21-point win as somehow falling short, but that’s the demanded level. It’s not how many, it’s how. The Stars were not sharp, were prone to mistakes and missed shots, and conventional thinking would dismiss it as expected following the emotional comeback win the night before. Spreen dabbed some covering makeup on this one with her second-half scoring spree, and BNL’s defense snarled with its usual wickedness while forcing 26 turnovers.
The Red Devils (5-2) were in a bad mood after suffering their first loss at Silver Creek on Friday, and they dared to stand up to BNL’s force with their own physical defense. But they could not generate any offense to make the Stars pay for their lack of crispness. Ugly, with no alibi.
”You think it’s ugly, you think you look terrible. And you have the lead,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “So you have to be happy about that. They gutted it out. They’re not all going to be beautiful all the time. You just have to find a way to get it done. They did that.”
BNL’s mirror moments, worth a look, were a 9-0 burst to finish the first quarter, with Pride slashing to a layup off a Karsyn Norman pass, with Norman knifing to the basket with a Spreen assist, with Spreen dropping a 10-footer for a 16-6 advantage.
The next glances of greatness came much later. Spreen opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Madisyn Bailey snuck behind a dribbler for a theft and swooped in for a layup, and Norman spun through traffic for a layup and 34-19 lead. In the fourth quarter, Spreen erupted with a flurry (two treys and a stop-and-go 4-footer on the baseline after beating Jeff’s press) for a 48-25 lead.
The rest of the night was a lot of bad passes, poor decisions and hand wringing. Allen asked for his club to slow down, but they were like speeding cars on the interstate highway. Whatever the traffic was going, that’s how fast they wanted to go. Give the Devils credit for making BNL go a long way on short rest.
“We had some rushed passes and turnovers we shouldn’t have,” Allen said, and the BNL turnover total was unsightly at 18. “Everybody always says, after a big win, there’ll be a letdown. I just don’t think that should happen. We were fatigued, definitely. It affected the mental capability, because we made some bad decisions.
“But that’s part of our inexperience. We don’t have a lot of kids out there who have played through a rough stretch like this (three games in five days) and are tired. They got sped up into making bad decisions, like they were in a hurry. Jeffersonville played hard. They’re going to come after us, it’s a conference game. They came after us hard. It was a physical game. Our conference gamesa are tough games. You just have to go out and get it done. It wasn’t pretty, but it still counts.”
Spreen, once again attracting contact when she worked in the paint, paid a price for her work. Scratches, bruises, some drops of blood. All part of a night’s work in the HHC. The Stars dished out equal.
“No kidding, I got beat up,” Spreen said. “It’s definitely tiring. But it was everybody, and we battled through it.
“Every team will give us their best. We have to be ready for every game. Getting that W was pretty fun. They’re more competitive, they want to beat us. It wasn’t an easy win, for sure. We had to battle. They were tough.”
Pride was one of the few immune to rashness. She hit 4 of 7 shots while hitting double figures for the first time. Bailey finished with 7 points, Carlee Kern had unsung stats with 7 rebounds. Spreen added 6 rebounds and did the bulk of her damage in the second half.
“Everybody will make her a focal point on defense,” Allen said. “And she’s still young, she’s still trying to figure it out. I’m adamant about her shooting the ball more from the perimeter, and she has to do that when they’re hawking her, when they’re double-teaming her when she tries to get to the rim. She’s going to see that a lot.”
La’Kyra Johnson paced Jeffersonville with 10 points while Sophia Reese had 8. Not only did the Devils kick the ball around, they also shot 34 percent (including 1 of 12 from deep) and converted only 4 of 11 free throws. That won’t work on the road.
“We did a good job of pressuring the ball,” Allen said. “We’re really happy with our halfcourt defense right now.”
BNL will now get a week off before facing Fremd (an Illinois opponent) in a one-game showcase event at Brownsburg on Nov. 27.
JEFFERSONVILLE RED DEVILS (31)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
10 Cadence Singleton, f 0-0 1-3 0-0 7 2 2
11 Nevaeh Bates, f 0-2 2-8 0-1 6 2 4
3 Sophia Reese, g 1-5 3-9 1-2 3 4 8
4 Elle Marble, g 0-0 1-5 0-0 1 2 2
5 La’Kyra Johnson, g 0-1 4-7 2-5 2 3 10
23 LaQaya Gold 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 0
32 Averielle Baker 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0
21 Kiki Gant 0-3 0-3 1-2 0 0 1
15 Maranda Mason 0-0 2-2 0-0 2 1 4
33 Myah Johnson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
13 Ellie Falkenstein 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 1-12 13-38 4-11 31 16 31
BEDFORD NL STARS (53)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
2 Chloe Spreen, f 3-3 5-14 6-6 6 1 19
24 Carlee Kern, f 1-2 1-2 2-2 7 1 5
22 Mallory Pride, f 0-0 4-7 6-8 1 3 14
32 Madisyn Bailey, g 0-1 3-8 1-2 4 2 7
21 Karsyn Norman, g 0-3 3-11 0-0 4 3 6
31 Ella Turner 0-0 1-2 0-0 1 1 2
50 Emma Crane 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
23 Hadley Teague 0-1 0-2 0-0 0 0 0
3 Katie Baumgart 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 4-10 17-45 15-19 31 12 53
Jeffersonville 6 11 4 10 – 31
Bedford NL 16 11 11 15 – 53
Turnovers – Jeffersonville 26, BNL 18
Field goal percentage – Jeffersonville 13-38 (.342); BNL 17-45 (.378)
Free throw percentage – Jeffersonville 4-11 (.364); BNL 15-19 (.789)