By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The northeast corner of BNL Fieldhouse, a quiet place among the rafters, is loud with echoes. Those banners, representing the best of Bedford North Lawrence’s remarkable history, hang there as constant reminders of the greatness that is expected by those below.
Those simple standards, reminders of glory past, collect dust in silence. Yet they scream. And they are heard, every day by the current coaches, by the kids who have been assigned the responsibility to keep that tradition burning.
The Stars will have an opportunity to add to the collection on Saturday afternoon when they face Lawrence North in the Class 4A semistate at Jeffersonville. One more win, one more banner. Might have to make room for a new addition, because it’s crowded up there.
Only state champions and runners-up are immortalized at that height. The Stars know they are there, even when not gazing upward in respect and awe. They would love to earn that distinction.
”It’s really important,” BNL senior Madison Webb said. “We’ll go down in school history as one of the best teams.”
Wouldn’t that be amazing, for this team that lacks some of the individual star power of predecessors. Those team pictures hang in the corridors, those memorials of Miss Basketball winners and Mental Attitude Award honorees (BNL won three straight from 1990-92, which might never be duplicated) stare at them during every walk through the halls of history. Join that sorority? Wow.
“That’s a pretty special feeling,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We feel good with this bunch, that we’ve had this kind of success.”
Most of the Stars were in elementary, all braces, pony tails and giggles, the last time BNL earned one of those banners. They watched intently as Alexa Bailey, Jenna Allen and Dominique McBryde took the Stars to the greatest of heights. One of those classic wins was an overtime semistate conquest of Lawrence North. Life has come fill circle in six years.
“I think it’s awesome,” junior Jenna Louden said. “Everyone remembers exactly what happened, where it was, everything that went on during the game. I remember Alexa and all them playing Lawrence North, and it was crazy.”
“It was always fun going to those games,” Webb said. “It was really inspiring to watch the older girls beat teams and put those banners up there. To have the chance to do that ourselves is really important.”
Webb has been inspired during her postseason appearances. She has scored in double figures in 14 of her 16 career tournament games, and she’s averaged 15 points during this one. Only the best can elevate their game against the best, and Webb has done that better than most.
“She understands the sense of urgency, especially being a senior,” Allen said. “It’s one-and-done, and she’s a high-level kid. It puts her in another gear.”
“Because it is one-and-done, there’s more stress, more pressure in the moment,” Webb said. “When it comes, you have to show the ability to finish. Previous years, you always had the next season to try and get there again. This is last chance.”
This is it for Webb, for Gracie Crulo-Rood, for Peyton Sweet as members of the senior class. Who knows, it could be it for all of them. Getting back to this level is never guaranteed, even for one of the elite programs. If the Stars can rise to this moment, it will guarantee a place in history.
Will that be easy? No. The Wildcats are favored, the Stars are now underdogs after playing the reverse role for the first two rounds of the state tournament. They welcome the change.
“You have to know you can do it, you’re fine, just stay calm,” Louden said. “Just do what we do.
“People expect us to lose this game. They look at them as more athletic, and they don’t think we have a chance. But we’re going to shock people. The way we play, nobody else plays like us.”