By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Are items really cheaper by the dozen? Depends on what’s being purchased in bulk. Kids certainly are not. Eggs aren’t right now. Neither are championships, for there’s definitely nothing cheap about the dozen Bedford North Lawrence will seek to complete.
The Stars, winners of a remarkable 11 consecutive Class 4A sectional titles, will look to finish the quest for the most expensive – in terms of sacrifice, commitment and talent – set of jewels in the basketball kingdom on Saturday night, hosting upstart Silver Creek in the Sectional 15 finale. Does the crown still fit? BNL (22-3) hopes to find out as it faces a rematch with the Dragons.
BNL’s amazing streak, which includes 35 straight postseason wins against familiar conference rivals, is the gold standard, the longest active run in the state. When Silver Creek added BNL to its schedule four years ago, the reason was to prepare for the state tournament. And it worked – too well, really. The Dragons advanced to back-to-back 3A state title games (winning in 2021) and earned a two-year bump to 4A with the Success Factor rule. The reward is a battle with the reigning champion.
“Being in 4A is a good problem,” Silver Creek coach Scott Schoen said. “We got them on the schedule years ago because we want Silver Creek to be BNL. That’s the vision. We did it to get prepared for the tournament. Little did I know . . .
“I’d much rather be making the trip and worrying about good problems.”
BNL has had to navigate the toughest route to the title, facing Jennings County (winning 51-38) and Jeffersonville (65-50) to reach the final. Silver Creek, thanks to a first-round postponement, will now be making its third trip in three days to compete for the trophy. And that’s exactly what the Dragons intend to do.
“Three games in three days is tough, but what would you rather be doing?” Schoen asked. “Playing basketball or sitting at home? I’d rather be playing.
“We’re not coming up here just to enjoy the view and eat at Mamma’s and Pappa’s – and that’s really good, by the way. We’re coming up here to compete. What better thing than to compete against the best. We have that opportunity.”
While Schoen works on an endorsement deal with the local restaurant, the Stars represent a huge amount to chew on. BNL won the regular-season clash 67-29, one of 11 games on the BNL schedule that finished with a running clock (via the 35-point margin rule). Chloe Spreen scored 29 points, Madisyn Bailey recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and the Stars doused the fire of the Dragons by forcing 27 turnovers.
“We can’t turn the ball over. That’s the big one,” Schoen said. “They’re too good to give them free opportunities at the rim. Ball security will be huge for us. We’ll have to guard, sit down and defend. They have a lot of weapons.
“We’re going to compete. I don’t know what that will look like, what that means, but we’ll play our best basketball.”
BNL’s best can be overwhelming, with Spreen (18.8 points per game), Karsyn Norman (17.2) and Mallory Pride (10.3) sparking the offense. Silver Creek will counter with a young lineup that includes two freshmen (6-2 center Brooklyn Renn and guard Emma Schoen) and a sophomore (Lydia Wright). Renn had 10 points against BNL in the first meeting, and she scored 21 in the sectional semifinal win over Seymour.
“They present some challenges, but we do likewise,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “Hopefully the kids will be ready to go. I think we’re capable of playing better basketball than we did (in the semifinal). I think the kids feel that way.
“We’re just happy we’re playing. That’s the thing about this time of year, survive and advance.”
The sectional champion will advance to the one-game regional at BNL on Feb. 11, clashing with either Jasper (12-14) or Evansville Central (14-11), the final twosome in the Evansville Harrison sectional final set for Monday.
Sectional at BNL
SILVER CREEK at BNL
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Silver Creek 14-9; BNL 22-3 (ranked No.7)
Sagarin ratings: Silver Creek 76.31; BNL 98.98
Last meeting: On Dec. 15 at Silver Creek, the Stars overpowered the Dragons 67-29. Chloe Spreen scored 29 points for BNL, Brooklynn Renn had 10 points for Silver Creek. The Dragons were guilty of 27 turnovers.
Previous game story: Spreen, Stars run away from Silver Creek
Game notes: BNL has won 35 consecutive sectional games and 11 straight sectional championships. The winner will face the victor from the Evansville Harrison sectional in the one-game regional at BNL on Feb. 11.
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.
Silver Creek Dragons
F – Brooklyn Renn 6-2 Fr.
G – Emma Schoen 5-6 Fr.
G – Kiara Grant 5-2 Jr.
G – Lydia Wright 5-7 So.
G – Olivia Johnston 5-8 Sr.