No.2 BNL seeking to maintain intensity as Stars prepare to tangle with Cougars

BNL’s Karsyn Norman applies defensive pressure during the season opener against Mooresville. The No.2 Stars will host Bloomington North on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Remember recess? The brief study break to enjoy some play time with friends? Goof off a little. Those were the days.

At Bedford North Lawrence, there’s no recess time on the court. No matter the score, opponent or situation, this is – to paraphrase John Mellencamp – serious business: focus and execution and rock-n-roll basketball. Ranked No.2 and dreaming of the ultimate prize, every minute is a lesson, every moment a teaching tool.

BNL, fresh from an impressive blowout of highly-respected Mooresville in the season opener on Friday night, will welcome Bloomington North to BNL Fieldhouse on Tuesday night. Even with so many positives from the 67-34 victory over the Pioneers, the Stars will spend their brief preparation time looking deep into the video to fine-tune some points for the second game of the young season.

“I’m always going to look at execution,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We had a couple of slips in intensity, and we talked about that. It’s all part of the learning process.”

The Cougars (1-0) will feature an experienced roster, something Mooresville lacked as it was guilty of 26 turnovers against BNL’s attacking defense and pressure. North has four returning starters, plus a talented transfer from Eastern Greene.

BNL’s Chloe Spreen uses a screen by Mallory Pride to create a driving lane. Spreen scored 21 points in the opener.

North’s leaders will include junior Mia Robbennolt (11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds a year ago as North went 9-14 and won its most games in nine years), senior Mallory Barrow (9.4) and junior guard Ava Reitmeyer (7.5). Newcomer Kenli Sullivan scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards as the Cougars clawed past Greenwood 37-33 on Saturday. Robbennolt totaled 9 points and Reitmeyer added 8.

In addition to the intensity level, Allen will chart the rebounding numbers. With his vertically-challenged lineup, that will be a constant every game. After failing to record a rebound in the first quarter against Mooresville, BNL finished nearly even (27-25) in that category.

“Are we rebounding like we did?” Allen said. “If we can rebound with the effort we had, if we can battle like that and hold our own, that will say a lot about how much success we have. North has gotten better every year. We’ll try to make it a fast-paced game, try to make it tough for them to run their stuff.”

BNL’s strengths are obvious with team speed, with the electric tandem of future All-Stars and Miss Basketball candidates Chloe Spreen (21 points and 8 boards in the opener) and Karsyn Norman (17 points). Mallory Pride added 14 points. Those same players were instrumental in BNL’s 66-28 win at North last season. Spreen totaled 22 points and Norman added 17 that night. The Stars shut out North for the final 13 minutes and forced 23 turnovers.

“Our goal is to be balanced in attack offensively and limit turnovers,” North coach Jeff Turmail said. “BNL is very deserving of their preseason ranking. They averaged less than 10 turnovers a game last season, and that puts pressure on any team to be highly effective on the offensive end.”

BNL senior Emma Brown looks over the defense. Brown and the Stars were sharp in the first game against Mooresville.


When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: Bloomington North 1-0; BNL 1-0 (ranked No.2 in Class 4A)

Last meeting: Last year at North, the Stars cruised to a 66-28 victory. Chloe Spreen scored 22 points and Karsyn Norman added 17 for BNL, which didn’t allow any points during the final 13 minutes. Mia Robbennolt had 15 points for the Cougars.

Previous game story: BNL’s defensive tornado

Game notes: BNL has won 11 straight in the series, the last eight by an average margin of 44.7 points.

Starting lineups

Bedford NL Stars

F – Chloe Spreen 5-9 Jr.

F – Mallory Pride 5-8 Sr.

G – Madisyn Bailey 5-8 Jr.

G – Karsyn Norman 5-6 Sr.

G – Emma Brown 5-5 Sr.

Bloomington North Cougars

F – Mia Robbennolt 5-11 Jr.

F – Kenli Sullivan 5-10 So.

G – Mallory Barrow 5-11 Sr.

G – Ava Reitmeyer 5-8 Jr.

G – Avery Patterson 5-4 Sr.