By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – For three quarters, Bedford North Lawrence was the high-powered machine everyone expects, the roaring race car cruising at top speed, threatening to lap the field. Then, nearing the final turn, without warning . . . bang! The engine explodes, two tires go flat, and the question becomes making it to the finish line.
The Stars, with a couple of anxious glances in the rear view mirror, coasted home, because the lead was safe. No.4 BNL lost style points during the late malfunction, but victory was never in doubt. History will record another W, judging only on pass-fail rather than assigning a letter grade. On to the next assignment.
BNL’s defense definitely earned another A-plus as the Stars stopped Brownsburg 44-32 on Saturday night. Karsyn Norman had 11 points, the only BNL scorer in double digits, as the Stars (10-1) remained unbeaten against Indiana competition and ended Brownsburg’s three-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs (6-6) were missing some key pieces. Freshman center Avery Gordon was absent (in virus quarantine) and starting guard Kailyn Terrell sat out the first half (disciplinary reasons). BNL took advantage of that disruption in rhythm, forcing 10 turnovers during the middle quarters and converting the miscues into points. The Stars went on a 16-5 run in the second period, extended the lead to 41-21 late in the third. Pretty impressive.
Bang! What was that? Remember Jim Lovell’s line in Apollo 13? “Houston, we have a problem.” From that point, as the Stars staggered, leaking oxygen and struggling to score, mission control’s job became getting them home. BNL managed only one field goal the rest of the way. It was enough, because Brownsburg’s motor was missing a few cylinders.
The first three quarters were worth far more praise, trumping the anxiety caused by the last. That run in the first half was tremendous as Norman turned a steal into a breakout, then followed with a wing 3-pointer. Madisyn Bailey grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup, Chloe Spreen raced to another transition basket, Ella Turner scored off an offensive rebound and Bailey cut to a layup off a Spreen pass for a 30-16 edge.
BNL kept humming as Norman turned two steals into runaways, one of them capped by a beautiful stop-start-and-spin move around a defender. Bailey drove home for the 20-point margin.
“I thought we played good basketball for three quarters,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “That’s a great win. The last quarter we lost our focus a little bit, made careless passes and lost track of shooters. You do that, and they’ll hurt you. We got a little conservative. But we’re still learning, we’re still young.”
That last quarter was noteworthy only because Brownsburg’s Megan Eaker drilled three straight treys, cutting the deficit to 42-32. The rest of it, after Spreen scored in the lane with 4:13 left, was a frustrating exercise in futility. Take away Eaker’s five bombs, and Brownsburg hit only 7 of the other 46 shots it launched. Take away BNL’s transition points, and the Bulldogs still had a shot.
“We had a major mental breakdown in the second quarter,” Brownsburg coach Debbie Smiley said, not smiling much. ”I credit Bedford, they were more disciplined and executed. They really hurt us in transition. Their role players really stepped up in the first half, and hurt us. They got good play from them.”
Bailey finished with 9 points, Spreen totaled 9 (only the sixth time she’s been held to single digits in her starry career), while Carlee Kern and Mallory Pride had 6 points each. Spreen had 9 boards, and senior Ella Turner made a huge impact with 6 rebounds in the first half.
“Ella played outstanding,” Allen said. “I was really proud of her play. She did a great job defensively, she rebounded, she scored. She came in and took care of business, really helped us out.”
Eaker finished with 15 points while Novalee Glass added 9 points and 8 boards for the Bulldogs, who shot a miserable 23.5 percent.
“We missed some scoring,” Smiley said. “We had a lot of distractions this week, then we didn’t have a good first half. You just hope they respond, and I think they did. We just couldn’t score.”
“We played well as a team,” Norman said. “That fourth quarter we got a little stale. We couldn’t answer on offense, but our defense saved us. I’m glad we had that. It was like a safety net when they started coming back.”
BNL was a fiery 9 of 13 from the field in the second quarter, only 8 of 34 the rest of the night. The Stars were 1 of 12 from long range. Spreen was swarmed and bumped off course, hitting only 4 of 18 shots while getting a lot of resistance and attention.
“We’re still not shooting from the arc,” Allen said. “We’ll work on that. Our defense is carrying us right now, and I’m OK with that. As long as we’re winning, I’m good with that., Hopefully we’ll make shots in the future.”
The Stars will host 3A No. 2 Silver Creek, 11-0 and the defending state champion, on Thursday.
BROWNSBURG BULLDOGS (32)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
40 Novalee Glass, f 0-1 4-13 21-2 8 1 9
3 Paige Kurtz, f 0-0 0-2 1-2 4 2 1
10 Kiera Guckenberger, g 0-4 0-5 0-0 5 3 0
5 Miya Webb, g 0-4 1-8 0-0 1 0 2
12 Megan Eaker, g 5-9 5-10 0-0 4 1 15
14 Kailyn Terrell 0-2 0-3 0-0 3 1 0
20 Emma Hendricks 1-4 2-9 0-0 4 2 5
11 Macy Twomey 0-0 0-1 0-0 1 0 0
Totals 6-24 12-51 2-4 33 10 32
BEDFORD NL STARS (44)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
2 Chloe Spreen, f 0-5 4-18 1-1 9 3 9
24 Carlee Kern, f 0-1 1-2 4-6 2 1 6
22 Mallory Pride, f 0-0 2-5 2-4 6 1 6
32 Madisyn Bailey, g 0-2 4-8 1-2 6 1 9
21 Karsyn Norman, g 1-4 5-11 0-0 6 1 11
31 Ella Turner 0-0 1-3 1-2 6 1 3
50 Emma Crane 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 1-12 17-47 9-15 38 8 44
Brownsburg 6 12 5 9 – 32
Bedford NL 9 23 10 2 – 44
Turnovers – Brownsburg 11, BNL 10
Field goal percentage – Brownsburg 12-51 (.235); BNL 17-47 (.362)
Free throw percentage – Brownsburg 2-4 (.500); BNL 9-15 (.600)