By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Anyone who has walked through the hallway where the state championship team photos adorn the walls, anyone who has stared up at the banners waving softly in the northeast corner of BNL Fieldhouse, knows the impact of Austin “Pete” Pritchett.
He’s the Godfather of Bedford North Lawrence basketball, the Hall of Fame coach, the giant gentleman who directed the Stars to two state championships and established the program as one of Indiana’s best. Everything linked to the tradition of BNL centers on the bear of a man who towered over his kids and demanded their best.
BNL will again honor Prtchett, who mentored great teams and three consecutive Mental Attitude Award winners, with his name on the Limestone Classic Holiday Tournament on Tuesday.
The Class 4A No.7 Stars (9-1) will open the two-game event against Class 2A No.9 Forest Park (8-3) at 10 a.m., followed by the second game between Class 2A No.1 Linton (11-0) and Heritage Christian (8-4). The first-round losers will return to clash in the consolation at 6 p.m., while the winners will battle for the title at 7:30.
The Stars are constantly reminded of the tradition they uphold, and this four-team tilt packs a lot of firepower in terms of outstanding teams and spectacular individuals. BNL will need its best.
“Playing on our home floor, we always take a lot of pride in that,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We want to win.
“They understand because they know what’s expected when you put on that Lady Stars uniform. It comes from tradition that was started with Pete Pritchett, and carried on. We’ve tried to uphold that tradition where we play extremely hard, we play the game the right way.”
Forest Park, a new addition to the BNL schedule, started 7-0, including a victory over Class A power Loogootee. The young Rangers have stumbled lately with three losses in four games, but they have balance with three scorers at the double-figure threshold.
Sophomore center Carley Begle leads the team in scoring (11.0) and rebounding (5.7), and she gets plenty of support from 6-0 sophomore Amber Tretter (10.1 points, 5.7 boards) and 5-9 sophomore guard Lydia Betz (9.8).
“They do a lot of good things,” Allen said, noting Forest Park got on his radar after the Rangers knocked off Evansville North (a regional opponent for BNL) last season. “They’re very disciplined. So we have to be prepared and be ready.”
“We are really excited for this opportunity,” Forest Park coach Tony Hasenour said. “To play in BNL Fieldhouse is a great opportunity as it is one of the biggest and best high school gyms in the nation. And then to play a school like BNL is a great addition to our schedule. They are one of the greatest girls basketball programs in the state, and this year is no different.
“They will be an extremely difficult challenge for us. Win or lose, they will help us identify weaknesses and get us better for the second half of the season.”
BNL will counter with its four-pronged fork attack of freshman Chloe Spreen (15.3), senior Chloe McKnight (14.4), senior Irye Gomez (12.4) and sophomore Karsyn Norman (9.3). The Stars will use the two-game day as preparation for a possible regional run in February.
“I like the regional format because it’s great training for the postseason,” Allen said. “I think it’s going to be a great tournament with some outstanding players, and some challenging games. We know they’re solid programs having great years.”
Linton vs. Heritage Christian: In Game 2, the dynamite Miners, the defending 2A state champions, will clash with one of the power squads in central Indiana, and there’s plenty of talent on both teams.
Linton will feature the dynamic duo of forward Vanessa Shafford (19.0) and Aubrey Burgess (17.5), a pair of University of Southern Indiana recruits, plus 6-0 senior center Haley Rose (14.0).
The Miners are fifth in the state in scoring (70.5) and second in winning margin (41.6), but Heritage Christian will be only the third 3A team Linton has faced.
“We’ll find out what we can do well against really good teams,” said Linton coach Jared Rehmel, who has guided the Miners to three straight 20-plus win seasons after Linton won only 16 total games the previous six years. “That’s why we’re playing.“
The Eagles, who have already made one trip to BNL Fieldhouse this season (facing BNL in the preseason scrimmage), will counter with the best player in the tourney in Michigan recruit Ariana Wiggins, a Miss Basketball contender who is averaging 27.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Senior forward Tyranny Brown is contributing 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds.
LIMESTONE CLASSIC HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
Honoring Pete Pritchett
FOREST PARK at BNL
When: Tuesday, 10 a.m.
Records: Forest Park 8-3, ranked No.9 in Class 2A; BNL 9-1, ranked No.7 in Class 4A
Sagarin ratings: Forest Park 73.55; BNL 99.33
Last meeting: This is the first game between the teams.
Game notes: BNL is hosting this tournament for the first time since 2016-17. The Stars last won this event in 2015.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Irye Gomez 5-9 Sr.
F – Chloe McKnight 5-9 Sr.
F – Chloe Spreen 5-9 Fr.
G – Karsyn Norman 5-6 So.
G – Jenna Louden 5-6 Sr.
Forest Park Rangers
F – Ali Welp 5-9 Jr.
F – Amber Tretter 6-0 So.
C – Carley Begle 5-9 So.
G – Lydia Betz 5-9 So.
G – Emma Gray 5-6 Sr.
LINTON vs. HERITAGE CHRISTIAN
When: Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
Records: Linton 11-0, ranked No.1 in Class 2A; Heritage Christian 8-4
Sagarin ratings: Linton 90.16; Heritage Christian 86.19
Last meeting: This is the first game between the teams.
Game notes: Linton is the defending 2A state champion. Heritage Christian won seven state championships from 2006-2016 under former coach Rick Risinger.
F – Gentry Warrick 6-0 Jr.
F – Vanessa Shafford 5-10 Sr.
C – Haley Rose 6-0 Sr.
G – Jaylee Hayes 5-9 Jr.
G – Aubrey Burgess 5-6 Sr.
Heritage Christian Eagles
F – Tyranny Brown 5-8 Sr.
C – Courtney Lee 6-0 Sr.
G – Ariana Wiggins 5-8 Sr.
G – Jazmine Williams 5-6 Sr.
G – Audrey Booher 5-7 Jr.