The Top 10 stories of the year at BNL

BNL girls basketball won the fifth state championship in program history. Courtesy photo

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – In more ways than one, 2022-23 was a banner year at Bedford North Lawrence. Multiple conference championships, both as teams and individuals, trips to multiple state finals, and the ultimate banner for the flagship program made it one of the more memorable, and successful, years in school history.

Not all the news was good news, as the entire BNL community (and programs all across the state) mourned the passing of girls basketball coaching legend Austin “Pete” Pritchett. His impact on the entire school, and with the program he guided to elite status, could not be overstated. But he was proud of the continued greatness that has followed him.

That excellence was evident on the courts and fields as the Stars shined brilliantly.

So here are the top BNL moments during one of the best years in school history:

10. Baseball no-hitters: BNL hurlers Kline Woodward, Ryker Hughes and Cal Gates authored two no-hitters during the baseball campaign. Woodward celebrated the annual Stars vs. Cancer fundraiser with a 10-0, five-inning gem against Martinsville. Earlier in the season, Hughes and Gates combined for 14 strikeouts while shutting down Scottsburg for the program’s first no-hitter since 2016.

BNL’s Cal Gates combined with Ryker Hughes to throw one of two no-hitters during the baseball season.

9. Golfers advance to state finals: After extending their amazing streak to 10 consecutive sectional titles, the Stars made it all the way to Prairie View, qualifying for the IHSAA state championships for the first time since 2018. BNL finished 15th in the finals to cap their ninth appearance.

8. Baker splashes to fourth in state: Senior speedster Cole Baker splashed his way to two school records and two appearances on the awards podium during the IHSAA boys swimming state meet. He clocked 45.75 (breaking his own school mark) while finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle race, and he finished eighth in the 50 free (after setting another record of 20.93 in the prelims).

7. Stars smash state HR record: The Stars shattered a single-game state record, launching nine home runs during a 22-10 slugfest win over Jeffersonville. Ava Ratliff and Kendall Graves clubbed three each, while the rest of the bombs were courtesy of Braxton McCauley, Tori Nikirk and Hayley Davis. BNL broke the mark of eight set by Floyd Central (2019 and 2021) and Carmel (2021). The Devils also smacked four out of the park as the two teams combined for another state record with 13 total.

6. Ratliff, Waggoner named All-State: Senior pitcher Annie Waggoner and sophomore catcher Ava Ratliff were selected to the Class 3A/4A All-State team by the Softball Coaches Association of Indiana. Waggoner went 15-5 in the circle (setting school records for 55 career wins and 569 strikeouts), and she hit .371 with 5 home runs and 28 RBIs. Waggoner was also chosen for the South All-Stars.

BNL slugger Ava Ratliff led the state in home runs for the second time.

Ratliff, one of the premier sluggers in the nation, led the state in home runs with 22 while batting .538 with 53 RBIs. She set school records for home runs, hits (57), doubles (16) and RBIs. She already ranks in the top 10 in state history for career homers.

5. Norman, Spreen selected as All-Stars: Karsyn Norman became the 11th player in program history to don the Indiana All-Stars jersey. Norman, a finalist for Miss Basketball who is on her way to Butler, scored 12 points in the second game against Kentucky as Indiana salvaged a split in the series. Norman averaged 15.5 points and 4.2 assists during her senior season, and she finished sixth on the school’s career scoring list (1,329 points) and first in assists (352).

Spreen, who verbally committed to Alabama, was named to the Indiana Junior All-Stars, and she helped the Hoosiers post a win over Kentucky. Spreen, the eighth BNL player to join the Junior All-Stars, averaged 19.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, and she was named the MaxPreps state Player of the Year. She’s already fifth on the school’s career scoring list with 1,358 points.

4. Boys basketball wins HHC crown: With a victory over New Albany, the Stars clinched a share of their first league title since 2011, going 5-1 in a tough conference. Senior guards Colten Leach and Colton Staggs, who would both earn All-HHC honors, were the catalysts as BNL ended a long drought with the 13th league title in program history.

Colten Leach, who scored over 1,000 career points, powered the Stars to a share of the HHC title.

3. Hein resigns as basketball coach: In a surprising move, after four successful seasons with the program, Jeff Hein stepped down as the head coach of the Stars. Hein posted an impressive 56-40 mark during his tenure, including a strong 16-7 mark in 2022-23 while winning a share of the HHC title. Hein was the ninth coach in program history. His overall record is 351-246 in 26 seasons, and BNL enjoyed its most successful four-year stint since Mark Ryan’s teams won 61 games from 1997-2001.

2. Football claims HHC title: For only the seventh time in program history, and for the first time since 2006, the Stars claimed a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference crown, conquering Columbus East 21-3 to clinch a piece of the title. BNL’s defense forced three turnovers, blocked a punt, sacked the quarterback four times while beating the Olympians for the first time since 2006. Ryker Hughes caught a halfback pass from Cal Gates for a touchdown, Dylan Nikirk scored another TD, and Memphis Louden broke a 54-yard touchdown run to clinch it.

1. Stars win fifth state championship: In the most dramatic fashion possible, the Stars capped a remarkable postseason run with a tense 46-42 triumph over Fishers to win the program’s fifth IHSAA state championship. Emma Brown, now forever an immortal icon, scored the go-ahead basket with 19.7 seconds left, then converted two clutch free throws with 3.7 remaining to secure the crown.

Chloe Spreen, a hero during semistate wins over Center Grove and Lawrence North, paced BNL, which rallied from a seven-point deficit in the second half, with 20 points as the Stars completed a 27-3 campaign. Karsyn Norman was named the Mental Attitude Award winner, the sixth in program history and the school’s 12th total in all sports.

BNL’s Jeff Allen joined three predecessors as the head coach of a state champion.

Other noteworthy stories included Emma Gabhart qualifying for the girl swimming state finals; Colten Leach scoring 1,000 career points; the girls tennis doubles duo of Kenley Craig and Izzy Alldredge going undefeated; and Brayden Patterson advancing to track state finals in the high jump.

Colton Staggs was named the male Athlete of the Year, while Annie Waggoner was named female Athlete of the Year.