By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Call it a fluke, an anomaly, the absolute in abnormal performances. Basketball’s version of Stranger Things. For Jeffersonville, it was a nightmare while awake, an offensive implosion and disaster that happened at the worst possible time.
The Red Devils rank in state’s top 10 in scoring. They’ve been at 70-plus seven times. They can bring the heat. But during the regular-season clash with Bedford North Lawrence, all that fire got quenched as the Devils shot enough bricks to build a huge house.
BNL won that one 65-21, and it wasn’t that close. The Stars cruised to a 43-8 halftime lead (triggering the running clock for the entire second half) while the Devils redefined the Big Chill, making only two field goals in the first half and finishing 7 of 46 (0 of 20 from long range). Can that be duplicated? Don’t count on it.
Jeffersonville (14-9 after getting a first-round bye) will gets its shot at redemption, a rematch with No.7 BNL (21-3) in the first Class 4A sectional semifinal at BNL on Friday night. Seymour (14-9) will battle Silver Creek (13-9) in the second game, with those winners to collide in Saturday night’s championship.
That night, the Devils were as much their own worst enemy as the Stars. Jeffersonville had 15 first-half turnovers and missed 27 straight shots during one fruitless span, fueling BNL’s fury as the Stars raced to multiple breakaway layups.
“We kind of caught them, they didn’t know much about us, and it was early in the season,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We caught them on an off night. I totally don’t expect that again. It’s going to be more of a struggle.
“I wouldn’t look for a repeat. It’s the sectional, they’ll give us their best shot. They’ll be prepared. We’ll have to play well.”
“Bedford is one of those programs that has players that play the game how it’s supposed to be played,” Jeff coach Cory Norman said. “They are a fundamental team – a dangerous team if you don’t handle your business. I take every game, no matter a win or a loss, as a learning opportunity.”
Under usual circumstances, the Devils have firepower with balanced contributions from Brooklyn Carter (11.4 points), LaKyra Johnson (10.1), Sophie Reese (9.2) and Elle Marble (9.1). They love the fast tempo, the attacking style.
“Cory has his team playing extremely hard,” Allen said. “So we have to be ready to take care of the basketball, sit down and guard in the halfcourt. They have athletes. So it won’t be easy. We have a short time to turn around and prepare.”
BNL’s Karsyn Norman had 22 points and Chloe Spreen added 20 (plus 11 rebounds) during that first clash.
“Sectional is always different,” Karsyn Norman said. “They’re really physical. We have to be ready for that.”
The Stars advanced to the semifinal with a tough 51-38 win over Jennings County in the tournament opener on Wednesday. As BNL chases its 12th consecutive sectional crown, that solid start (with Norman scoring 16 points and Mallory Pride adding 13) was a key.
“I think it’s huge,” Allen said. “Getting that first sectional game under your belt is key. We had some nervous times out there, with some execution, so you get that out of your system.”
“ I am not too worried about this being our first tournament game,” Cory Norman said. “We have told our ladies that we have played a lot of games this season and this is just another game. No pressure, no stress. Just play the game.”
In the other first-round games on Thursday:
Silver Creek 57, Floyd Central 41 – Lydia Wright scored 14 points as the Dragons rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit and pulled away in the fourth quarter. Emma Schoen added 13 points for Silver Creek (13-9).
Carly Fonda had 12 points and Nora Gibson added 10 for the Highlanders (10-13).
Seymour 51, New Albany 34 – Kendall Sterling scored 19 points as the Owls (14-9) completed a season sweep of New Albany. Brooke Trinkle added 12 points for Seymour, which surged to a 22-11 lead at halftime.
Maizy Smith had 12 points and Alaina Walker totaled 11 for the Bulldogs (4-20).
Sectional at BNL
JEFFERSONVILLE at BNL
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Records: Jeffersonville 14-9; BNL 21-3, ranked No.7
Sagarin ratings: Jeffersonville 81.55; BNL 98.98
Last meeting: On Nov. 19 at Jeffersonville, the Stars blasted the Red Devils 65-21. Karsyn Norman had 22 points and Chloe Spreen added 20. BNL bolted to a 43-8 lead at halftime. The Devils hit only 7 of 46 shots, including 0 of 20 from 3-point range.
Previous game story: Fire and Ice! Stars unleash the Dragons
Game notes: BNL has won 34 consecutive sectional games. The Stars have won five straight in the series and have won nine straight over the Devils in postseason meetings. Jeffersonville won its last sectional in 2011 on its way to the 4A state championship.
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 5-8 Sr.
Jeffersonville Red Devils
F – Myah Johnson 5-10 Sr.
G – Sophie Reese 5-4 Sr.
G – Lakyra Johnson 5-7 Jr.
G – Brooklyn Carter 5-3 Sr.
G – Maranda Mason 5-5 Sr.
SEYMOUR vs. SILVER CREEK
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Seymour 14-9; Silver Creek 13-9
Sagarin ratings: Seymour 77.44; Silver Creek 76.31
Last meeting: On Nov. 11 at Seymour, the Owls prevailed 38-35. Kendall Sterling had 17 points for Seymour, while Ellie Falkenstein totaled 9 points for the Dragons.
Game notes: Seymour won its last sectional title in 2008. Silver Creek is seeking its first 4A sectional title after winning three in 3A (seven total in program history).
F – Kendall Sterling 5-10 Jr.
F – Elizabeth Kirby 5-9 So.
C – Journee Brown 6-1 Jr.
G – Jaidyn Nichols 5-5 Jr.
G – Brooke Trinkle 5-5 Sr.
Silver Creek Dragons
F – Brooklynn Renn 6-2 Fr.
G – Emma Schoen 5-6 Fr.
G – Lydia Wright 5-7 So.
G – Kiki Grant 5-2 Jr.
G – Olivia Johnston 5-8 Sr.