By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Statistics can tell a great lie and bolster weak arguments, or reveal universal truth. Want to know the secret to Bedford North Lawrence’s success? The answer can be discovered in one glaring number – turnovers.
After four wins to start the state championship defense, the Stars are averaging a remarkable (for the lack of volume) six turnovers per game. Small sample size? Last year, BNL was guilty of only 8.8 per contest, one of the reasons the Stars won the fifth state title in program history. Contrast that to BNL’s opponents (22.8 turnovers per game this season). Possession of the basketball should be guarded like a prize jewel.
Talent is another obvious key, and BNL has been doubly blessed with that during its unparalleled history. Combine the skill with the ability to execute, to handle pressure and harassment while minimizing mistakes. That separates the good from the great. That’s why the Stars have been elite for a long time.
“That’s really a strong suit of ours, taking care of the basketball,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “It limits possessions of the other team. A lot of that is we have great senior leadership, and these other kids really understand their roles, try to stay within themselves. They don’t try to do things that are uncharacteristic of what we want them to do.
“We’re the type of team, if our execution is great and our effort is great, we feel we can play with anybody. Those two things have to be really good every night.”
Proof of the importance of that critical stat was found in the box score of BNL’s win over Bloomington South. Most teams, while hitting only 2 of 18 treys and suffering a 41-18 beating on the boards, would have absorbed a loss. The Stars made up for the shortcomings with a 27-5 edge in turnovers. That’s 22 extra possessions.
“That’s a huge difference, if you can do that, even when you’re not shooting the ball well or rebounding well – which we didn’t do either one,” Allen said. “South did a good job of guarding us and being physical, and we got a little tired. But the fact we took care of the basketball, and forced them into turnovers, changed the tide of the game.
“Every day is not going to be great. We talk about ‘doing down well.’ That was a down night for us in how we played, yet we were successful. You won’t feel great every day, it won’t be perfect. But you have to figure it out and be successful. I was proud of my kids for being able to do that.”
BNL star Chloe Spreen was more evidence of that. After two sensational games (hitting 25 of 34 shots against Bloomington North and Mitchell), she cooled off to mere mortal levels, yet still scored 22 points. She’s averaging 26.3 points per game.
“She’s a competitor,” Allen said. “She plays so hard. It’s a very rare thing for a kid this talented to play that hard. That’s just phenomenal with her, and her ability to continue to play at that pace. She plays so hard every possession.”
The Stars are also getting offensive production from Madisyn Bailey (11.8) and freshman Miley Sherrill (11.3 while hitting 20 of 31 shots to start her rookie campaign).
BNL, ranked No.2 in Class 4A, will face a tiring road trip for its next test, making the long journey to North Central in Indianapolis on Friday night. The Panthers are struggling at 0-4 following a 69-33 loss to 4A No.13 Lawrence North on Wednesday night, but they’ve played three ranked opponents (including 4A No.10 Brownsburg and 2A No.2 Lapel).
North Central will feature senior guard Kaiden Kreinhagen, a University of Evansville recruit averaging 12.3 points.
“It’s a character builder,” Allen said. “We’re playing a quality opponent. They’re very athletic. Kreinhagen is a really nice player, shoots it well and moves without the ball. We’ll have to focus on her. They’re athletic enough that, we might be able to guard them, but if they throw it up there and go get it on a miss, that’s an issue. We have to limit second and third opportunities, especially on the road.”
BNL won last year’s clash 65-41 as Karsyn Norman totaled 23 points. BNL’s last trip to the city’s north side ended with its first road win in the series, posting a 54-51 victory after trailing by 13 in the third quarter.
BNL at NORTH CENTRAL
When: Friday, 8 p.m.
Records: BNL 4-0, ranked No.2 in Class 4A; North Central 0-4
Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Stars rolled to a 65-41 victory. Karsyn Norman had 23 points and Chloe Spreen added 16. Kaiden Kreinhagen had 8 points for the Panthers.
Previous game story: Better late than never, Stars erupt
Game notes: BNL ranks 16th in the state in scoring defense, allowing only 26.3 points per game. North Central coach Dee Ann Ramey needs 11 more wins to reach 300 for her 20-year career. Chloe Spreen needs 33 points to pass Jenna Allen (1,495) for fourth on the school’s career scoring list.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Chloe Spreen 5-10 Sr.
F – Bella Jackson 5-7 Sr.
F – Miley Sherrill 5-9 Fr.
G – Madisyn Bailey 5-9 Sr.
G – Trinidy Bailey 5-7 So.
North Central Panthers
F – Kaitlyn Hoff 5-11 Sr.
F – McKenzi Rutland 6-1 Fr.
G – Kristian Dinkins 5-7 Jr.
G – Kaiden Kreinhagen 5-10 Sr.
G – Gabby Burrus 5-6 Jr.