By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – With the expected stars negating each other, the unexpected Star rose to the occasion.
Maybe Carlee Kern’s contributions in high-profile games should be anticipated. Been there, done that. So it’s not an accident, she’s no tourist on the court. Kern hit all the hot spots and big shots as Bedford North Lawrence won the opening game of the power-packed Limestone Classic, which honors Pete Pritchett. The former BNL coach and Hall of Famer would be proud of Kern’s impact.
With Kern as the catalyst, with scoring leaders Chloe Spreen and Karsyn Norman doing the normal damage, the No.5 Stars fought off No.13 East Central 47-40 on Wednesday morning and advanced to the championship game of the one-day event. BNL will clash with No.3 Noblesville – a 57-32 winner over No.1 Crown Point in the second semifinal – in the final.
Spreen scored 15 points, highlighting BNL’s early breakout to a lead it never surrendered, and Norman totaled 14, most of that in the second half to keep the Trojans (8-2) out of comeback range. They are usual suspects, but it was Kern’s 10 points that proved crucial as BNL (13-1) beat East Central for the eighth consecutive time in the hot series.
Each Kern basket seemed to be perfectly timed, sensing the necessity. She buried two 3-pointers, hit two key free throws in the fourth quarter, and spent the rest of the time in hand-to-hand combat with East Central post star Josie Trabel in the paint. Trabel finished with 20 points, just from sheer will and relentlessness.
“We talked about Spreen and Norman, versus (Hope) Fox and Trabel, was probably going to cancel each other, more times than not,” East Central coach Kevin Moore said. “It was the others that were going to win the game.
“It was Kern. And she’s done that a lot. She’s a senior, she’s been there before. Her teammates trust her in that fashion.”
The BNL marquee stars did their work. Spreen started on fire, scoring 9 first-quarter points, with two twisting drives for baskets and two pull-up jumpers. Norman swished a lengthy bomb at the buzzer for a 15-10 advantage. Kern started a 9-0 burst with her first trey, followed by back-to-back buckets by Mallory Pride plus Ella Turner’s layup, for BNL’s biggest lead at 26-14. East Central was in scramble mode once again.
“We’re kind of used to that in Bedford,” Moore said. “They do a good job of taking us out of our sets that we typically get it where we want. Not many of our kids, if any, answered the bell in that first half. And that’s where we lost the game. Our energy wasn’t very good. They just outhustled us in that first half.”
BNL took a 26-18 edge to halftime, then had to answer Trabel’s ferocious attack. She completed two 3-point plays, the result of offensive board crashing of her own misses. The Stars responded with a Kern layup, with two bombs by Norman. Each time the Trojans were on the brink of closing the gap, BNL stopped the momentum.
“The effort was outstanding,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “They were ready to play today.”
In the final frame, as the Stars showed signs of fatigue and the offense faltered, Kern made their only basket, a clutch 3-pointer from the corner. Despite some sloppiness late, BNL hit six free throws in the final 2:09 to clinch its seventh straight win.
Trabel was a force, adding 9 rebounds to her stat line. But Fox, who was averaging 15.7 points, was limited to 6 points (plus a game-high 10 boards).
“Hope is an outstanding guard, but I don’t know she’s run into someone like Karsyn,” Allen said. “Karsyn’s lateral quickness is so good, and she’s so smart. We got a little tired, and Trabel really hurt us inside. Just going and getting her misses, really made it tough for us to keep her off the boards.”
Kern had 12 points against North Central and 11 against Silver Creek, so her big-game rising should not be shocking. “Carlee is playing well,” Allen added. ”Trabel was a handful for her. But she’s having a great senior year. That’s a big catalyst of why we’ve been successful. We had to try a lot of different things to get people looks. The kids executed well, shared the basketball.”
Trabel scored 20 for the third time in the last four battles against BNL.
“Josie played the way she’s capable,” Moore said. “She’s a beast down there. We have to do a better job of getting her the ball, and she has to do a better job of being available. She did that in the second half.”
Noblesville 57, Crown Point 32 – The Millers dominated from start to finish, with junior star Ashlynn Shade scoring 22 points. Noblesville (12-2) shut down Crown Point star Jessica Carrothers with a box-and-one shadow defense, and the IUPUI recruit was limited to only 4 points.
Shade, one of the top recruits in the country and an early leading candidate for Miss Basketball in 2023, had 12 points in the second quarter as Noblesville blasted to a 28-16 lead, and the Millers raced away to a 25-point margin in the third.
Purdue recruit Lilly Stoddard had 6 points for the Bulldogs (12-2). Crown Point will face East Central in the consolation game.
EAST CENTRAL TROJANS (40)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
23 Josie Trabel, f 0-3 6-18 8-8 9 1 20
12 Hope Fox, g 0-2 3-8 0-0 10 2 6
5 Laney Baker, g 2-5 2-9 2-2 1 1 8
10 Julia Tiemann, g 0-1 0-3 0-0 6 5 0
20 Ashley Nobbe, g 1-4 2-5 1-2 0 2 6
44 Brooke Carpenter 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0
32 Makenzie Vignale 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
1 Caitlyn Dick 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 3-15 13-44 11-12 29 12 40
BEDFORD NL STARS (47)
3s FGs FTs R F Pts
2 Chloe Spreen, f 0-1 6-16 3-5 6 3 15
24 Carlee Kern, f 2-3 3-4 2-2 2 1 10
22 Mallory Pride, f 0-0 2-3 0-0 3 4 4
32 Madisyn Bailey, g 0-1 1-2 0-0 4 1 2
21 Karsyn Norman, g 3-6 4-14 3-5 2 2 14
31 Ella Turner 0-0 1-1 0-0 3 2 2
Totals 5-10 17-40 8-12 25 13 47
East Central 10 8 13 9 – 40
Bedford NL 15 11 12 9 – 47
Turnovers – East Central 10, BNL 9
Field goal percentage – East Central 13-44 (.295); BNL 17-40 (.425)
Free throw percentage – East Central 11-12 (.917); BNL 8-12 (.667)
NOBLESVILLE 57, CROWN POINT 32
Crown Point (12-2) – Alyvia Santiago 5, Abbi Foster 2, Brooke Lindsmith 6, Jessica Carrothers 4, Zoey Wells 1, Nikki Gerodemos 2, Ava Ziolkowski 6, Lilly Stoddard 6.
Noblesville (12-2) – Ashlynn Shade 22, Brooklyn Ely 3, Ava Shoemaker 8, Reagan Wilson 7, Meredith Tippner 5, Kate Rollins 3, Dani Mendez 4, Brooklyn Smitherman 5