Norman points the way as Stars race past Columbus East to clinch share of HHC title

COLUMBUS – BNL point guard Karsyn Norman drives to the rim for a layup during Tuesday’s clash with Columbus East. Norman had a career-high 37 points as the Stars stopped East 81-60 to clinch a share of the league title.

By Justin Sokeland

COLUMBUS – The best point guard in the state pointed the way to a conference championship. Any argument? Not after Karsyn Norman slashed, dashed and splashed her way to a career-best performance and powered Bedford North Lawrence to its goal of a crown.

Showcasing all of her sensational skills, raining jumpers and blasting for layups, finding open teammates and forcing turnovers, Norman and the sixth-ranked Stars raced to a track-meet victory over Columbus East on Tuesday night, winning a shootout with the two-time defending league champions. The Olympians handed over that title with stubbornness. Norman yanked it away.

Norman, the Butler recruit and a lock for an Indiana All-Star spot, exploded for a career-high 37 points as the Stars (17-3 overall) secured at least a share of the coveted Hoosier Hills Conference championship with an 81-60 victory. Mallory Pride added 19 points as BNL (now 5-0 in the league) took the next-to-last step toward a league sweep. Only Floyd Central stands in the way.

For the longest time, East (5-11 with seven consecutive losses) was unwilling to bow down. Even when the Stars surged to double-digit leads (30-17 in the second quarter, 63-40 in the third), super senior Saige Stahl and the Olympians would charge back. But the final Norman blast powered BNL to safety.

Talk about phenomenal numbers. She was 15 of 20 shooting, including 7 of 8 from long range over East’s zone. She added six assists. There’s no question about her will to win.

“That’s all I cared about,” Norman said. “I didn’t even know I scored that many. I just wanted to win. The same team has taken it away from us the last two years, so it meant a lot. Every time it became a battle, it was like ‘This is conference championship. Fight like it is.’

“Yeah they were bigger than us. That was hard. But Coach (Jeff) Allen got onto us and said we had to want it. We all wanted it, So we went out there and got it.”

BNL couldn’t stop the 6-foot Stahl, an Indiana State recruit and Indiana All-Star candidate, in the paint. So the trick was making East turn it over because she got it. Once she did, it was over as she hit 13 of 15 shots and totaled 29 points. But once the Olympians made a mistake, it was usually a layup on the other end.

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Mallory Pride finds a gap in the East zone. Pride had 19 points.

“Great first half, we were right there,” East coach Danny Brown said. “And they just came out and blitzed us. We turned it over, and Bedford is so fast, so quick. They just blew by us. Before you know it. It was going up to 20.”

BNL’s first run was an 11-0 burst, with Pride connecting from 15 feet, converting an offensive rebound, with Emma Brown scoring off a Pride pass, with Norman swishing a trey, with Pride scoring off a Norman offensive rebound. And then here came East, with Stahl scoring 13 points during the finish of the half as East clawed with 39-37 at intermission.

BNL answered that with another brutal run. East was guilty of turnovers on its first four possessions of the third quarter, and the Stars roared to breakaway layups by Spreen and Norman, plus another Norman bomb. After East caught its breath, BNL took it away with another 13-0 charge, with Norman scoring three times during that explosion. Was East done? Hardly. Stahl scored twice off steals and twice in the paint as BNL’s lead wilted to 65-56.

“They were just battling,” Allen said. “They were competing. And we had to match that. At first, it didn’t seem like were. They just outcompeted us in the first half, and I challenged them about that. You have to give credit to them. They were not going away.”

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Chloe Spreen rises in traffic for a jumper. Spreen totaled 15 points.

Finally, East ran out of steam. Norman drilled back-to-back treys and knifed through the zone for a bucket, Chloe Spreen worked free for a layup, and Stahl went out with a left leg cramp. No wonder, all the running she did.

“She’s an All-Star,” Brown said. “We’re struggling with players around her. We compete, but we can’t do it for 32 minutes.”

Spreen finished with 15 points, and Pride grabbed 7 boards. BNL forced 22 turnovers. But all that got overshadowed by the Norman-Stahl scoring fest. Norman hit her first five shots and never cooled off.

“I just knocked down shots,” she said. “They’ve been on me about attacking the zone off the dribble, so it was a little bit of both. And it worked.”

“From all levels of scoring, she was just really on,” Allen said. “She looked like one of the best guards in the state, or the best guard in the state. It’s phenomenal what she can do with her skill and her speed. It was a great night for that happen.

“Stahl is just a handful, a really outstanding player with size. I think I ran out of gas, too. It was exhausting. It’s not always going to look great, but it’s the end product. I was really proud of their effort.”

Brown announced his retirement prior to the season. Unless the two conference rivals meet deep in the postseason, this was his farewell against BNL.

“What a pleasure it’s been for 20 years, competing against Bedford,” Brown said. “Coach Allen is a class guy, Damon (Bailey) was a class guy, Kurt Godlevske was a class guy. It’s a been a pleasure.”

BNL will take pleasure in the league title. And not just a slice. The Stars will visit Floyd on Saturday afternoon.

“It feels great,” Allen said. “I’d sure like to continue on Saturday and have it solo.”

COLUMBUS – BNL’s Emma Brown breaks free for a layup. Brown had 6 points.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

2 Chloe Spreen, f 1-3 6-11 2-2 3 3 15

22 Mallory Pride, f 0-1 9-13 1-2 7 2 19

24 Madisyn Bailey, g 0-1 2-5 0-0 2 4 4

20 Emma Brown, g 0-3 3-7 0-0 4 0 6

21 Karsyn Norman, g 7-8 15-20 0-1 3 3 37

3 Katie Baumgart 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

32 Trinidy Bailey 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

50 Emma Crane 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 Tori Nikirk 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 8-17 35-60 3-4 23 12 81


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

20 Saige Stahl, f 0-0 13-15 3-3 9 1 29

23 Leah Bachmann, f 0-1 4-7 1-4 3 0 9

25 Messiah Tripp, f 0-0 3-4 0-0 2 0 6

4 Jenna Guse, g 1-3 2-5 2-2 0 0 7

14 Maeleigh Roberts, g 2-6 2-7 0-0 0 1 6

12 Allison Craig 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 0

15 Heidi Murphy 1-3 1-3 0-0 2 1 3

11 Victoria Cuhadar 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

21 Brielle Stevens 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

5 Kimberly Carothers 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 4-13 25-41 6-9 21 5 60

Bedford NL 21 18 26 16 – 81

Col. East 17 20 19 4 – 60

Turnovers – BNL 12, East 22

Field goal percentage – BNL 35-60 (.583); East 25-41 (.610)

Free throw percentage – BNL 3-4 (.750); East 6-9 (.667)