No.3 Stars expecting a challenge when they clash with Bloomington South

BNL’s Madisyn Bailey and the Stars (3-0) will entertain Bloomington South on Tuesday night.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – The start of the state championship defense has been perfect. Three blowout victories, capped by a record-setting triumph in the aftermath of the banner unveiling and ring presentation ceremony in the home opener. Now Bedford North Lawrence needs a challenge, to prove its toughness against some adversity.

Bloomington South will provide that. While other programs tremble a little when BNL treads and Damon Bailey Court echoes with shouts, the Panthers don’t back down.

The No.3 Stars, who rank among the state leaders in defense and winning margin after dismantling Mitchell, will host the Panthers on Tuesday night. South (2-1) has lost 12 straight in the series with BNL, but few of them have been easy. The last two clashes have been exceptions to the rule.

“They are well coached, they play hard, they play with physicality,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “You know what you’re going to get when Larry (Winters) is coaching. You have to be ready to grind out a win.”

South started with wins over Columbus East (56-30) and Edgewood (61-21), then suffered a 41-35 loss at Northview on Thursday when starter Violet Hall took an elbow to the eye in the opening minutes and missed the remainder of the contest.

The Panthers will feature sophomore Julia Lashley (18.3 points), Hall (who was averaging 15.0 in the first two games) and IU East recruit Abbie Lucas. All three of those are 6-footers, and that’s something the Stars – without a miraculous and overnight growth spurt – still lack.

“They will be very disciplined, both on the offensive and defensive end, which makes things more difficult,” Allen said. “They have some length, which is a problem for us, and they will execute their stuff offensively. We will have to be really good about getting over screens. Hopefully we can put pressure on them on the perimeter. If we can do that, we can disrupt them.”

BNL senior Chloe Spreen is averaging 27.7 points per game.

That strategy worked perfectly during last year’s meeting at South. The Stars forced 33 turnovers, and Chloe Spreen erupted for a career-high 35 points, during a 61-27 win (with a running clock for the last half of the fourth quarter).

Spreen, the electric Miss Basketball candidate and Alabama recruit, is averaging 27.7 after her 34-point night against the Bluejackets. Senior guard Madisyn Bailey is totaling 12.0, and freshman Miley Sherrill has been the steady third option at 12.3.

BNL now ranks 11th in the state in defense (allowing only 21.7 points per game) and third in winning margin (42.3) following the 72-9 shutdown of Mitchell. The single-digit total is believed to be (records from the early years in the program’s 50-season history need to be researched) a school record for fewest points allowed. BNL surrendered only 11 against Orleans in the 1988 sectional.

Mitchell’s two-point total at intermission tied for 10th for the fewest scored in one half in state history. Eight teams, according to the respected Hickory Husker website, have failed to score in a half. The 63-point win fell far short of BNL’s biggest blowouts. That remains the 120-15 crushing of Shoals during the 1991 sectional. Allen, mindful of the social-media furor after other record bashings across the state (South’s 107-2 win over Arlington in 2012 comes to mind) in recent years, made sure that scenario wasn’t repeated, without sacrificing the level of play by his team.

BNL now carries a 16-game winning streak that stretches back into last season. The Stars also remained No.2 in the latest Indiana Basketball Coaches Association state poll (which does not divide by class).


When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: Bloomington South 2-1; BNL 3-0, ranked No.3 in Class 4A

Last meeting: Last year at South, Chloe Spreen scored a career-high 35 points as the Stars scorched the Panthers 61-27. Karsyn Norman added 15 points for BNL. Abbie Lucas had 10 points for the Panthers, who were guilty of 33 turnovers.

Previous game story: Spreen nets career-high 35

Game notes: BNL has won 12 straight in the series. The Stars rank 11th in the state in defense (21.7 points per game) and third in winning margin (42.3). South’s Larry Winters ranks 19th on the active coaching list with 333 career wins in 25 seasons.

Starting lineups

Bedford NL Stars

F – Chloe Spreen 5-10 Sr.

F – Miley Sherrill 5-9 Fr.

G – Tori Nikirk 5-6 Jr.

G – Madisyn Bailey 5-9 Sr.

G – Trinidy Bailey 5-7 So.

Bloomington South Panthers

F – Violet Hall 6-0 So.

F – Abbie Lucas 6-0 Sr.

G – Molli Lucas 5-9 Jr.

G – Audrey Craft 5-9 So.

G – Julia Lashley 5-11 So.