By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – At this late point, with the regular season about to enter its final week, with the postseason looming, Bedford North Lawrence has little left to prove. No more surprises, no time for major adjustments. The last days are set aside for fine tuning, for minor tweaks, for perfecting the strengths that have gotten the Stars to this moment.
The No.4 Stars have had a week – rare spare time – to refresh and reset for the final surge. They spent this “vacation” in charge mode. Get the legs rested, get the mind revived, get the focus locked on the goals ahead. They’ll begin the drive toward the sectional when they welcome struggling Jasper to BNL Fieldhouse for a Saturday matinee.
The Wildcats (4-15) are stumbling through a tough season, dragging a seven-game losing streak (following their 58-44 loss to Evansville Reitz on Thursday) into the clash with the Stars (17-2). BNL can’t be concerned about Jasper’s issues. For the Stars, it’s all about themselves.
“You can’t say we’re young now, after going through a whole season,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “But we have some kids who haven’t been in certain situations. Later on, that will be crucial against a really good opponent. We’ve been talking about decision making. And we continue to work on our execution. We’re getting back to some basics, just try to improve on that.
“We’ll be glad to play on Saturday. It’s been a good week. We’ve covered a lot that we might see in a tournament setting. We’re thinking about things people could throw at us, maybe something we haven’t seen to slow us down. Junk defenses can throw you out of your rhythm.”
Here’s the basics: BNL has star power with sophomore Chloe Spreen (16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds) and junior Karsyn Norman (14.6 points). The Stars have a a strong supporting cast with senior Carlee Kern, sophomore Madisyn Bailey and sophomore Mallory Pride all adding 6.4 points.
Here’s the facts: Jasper doesn’t have that kind of firepower. The Wildcats have only one scorer in double figures (senior guard Aspen Sermersheim at 10.4) and they’re averaging only 35.3 points per outing. They were held to 9 points by Heritage Hills, limited to 12 by Evansville Memorial.
“This game is going to be a major challenge for us,” Jasper coach Jessica Mehringer said. “We are very, very young and inexperienced, so growing pains is an understatement.
“We are getting better, but definitely have a high ceiling for years to come. We are trying to get better by playing at the competition level that we are playing this year – taking lumps in the process, but hopefully seeing the fruits of our labor in the future.”
BNL has won six straight in the series by an average of 28.1 points. The Stars cruised to a 65-34 win last season, forcing 31 turnovers while Chloe McKnight (17 points) and Spreen (14) did the scoring damage.
The only bad news this week? BNL’s hopes of earning a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title were dashed when Columbus East escaped from Jennings County with an 81-75 overtime victory. East won its second straight HHC title.
JASPER at BNL
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Records: Jasper 4-15; BNL 17-2, ranked No.4 in Class 4A
Sagarin ratings: Jasper 55.72; BNL 97.62
Last meeting: Last year at Jasper, Chloe McKnight scored 17 points as the Stars cruised to a 65-34 win. Chloe Spreen added 14 points and 9 rebounds. The Wildcats were guilty of 31 turnovers.
Previous game story: Jasper gets first-hand look
Game notes: BNL has won six straight by an average of 28.1 points since the series resumed. Jasper is averaging only 35.3 points per game.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Chloe Spreen 5-9 So.
F – Carlee Kern, 5-8 Sr.
F – Mallory Pride 5-8 So.
G – Madisyn Bailey 5-8 So.
G – Karsyn Norman 5-6 Jr.
F – Kennedy Mathies 5-10 Sr.
F – Emma Schipp 5-10 So.
G – Jasmin Mehringer 5-7 Jr.
G – Aspen Sermersheim 5-7 Sr.
G – Carlee Rogers 5-6 Fr.