After crisis averted, No.7 Stars head to New Albany for next test in HHC defense

BNL’s Madisyn Bailey and the No.7 Stars will visit New Albany on Saturday afternoon.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Never let a good crisis go to waste. Bedford North Lawrence stared into the dark eyes of such a demon during its gut-check battle against Class 2A No.1 North Knox, rising to slay the beast and record a quality victory.

Now the challenge for the Stars is the encore. Take that thrilling win, which required some high-level toughness and last-possession execution, and use it to start a winning streak for momentum into a difficult section of the schedule.

BNL, 7-1 and ranked No.7 in Class 4A, will journey to New Albany for a significant Hoosier Hills Conference test on Saturday afternoon. While the Bulldogs (1-8) might not present the potential challenge of recent and future foes, the Stars cannot overlook any league opponent as they defend their crown.

“It will be a tight conference race,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “One slip will cost you.”

The Stars are coming off their best win of the year thus far. They fought off the Warriors 51-50, with freshman Miley Sherrill hitting two clutch free throws with 1.8 seconds left, and they got there by going the length of the court after the Warriors scored the go-ahead bucket with 5.7 seconds remaining. After two fouls and three timeouts, BNL perfectly executed a sideline inbound set to get Sherrill in position to score. She got fouled and delivered under pressure, as the Stars avoided back-to-back losses. That was definitely a crisis, of faith and identity.

“I really liked our fight and how we were resilient in the second half,” Allen said. “I want to see that carry into some momentum. I still feel like we’re capable of playing better basketball. I hope this propels us into that. We saw glimpses in the second half of some really good play. We’re capable of being better.“

Where can BNL get better? Chloe Spreen, the Miss Basketball frontrunner, is averaging 22.1 points and 6.9 rebounds, Madisyn Bailey is totaling 10.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and Sherrill is contributing 9.3 points. Rebounding will be a constant talking point because of the lack of size, and the team free-throw percentage (66 percent) could use a boost.

The main issue for the Stars is consistency. Take away the three scoring leaders, and BNL’s shooting percentage is a dismal 27.9 percent (29 of 104 overall, and only 17 of 67 from long range).

“Madisyn and Chloe are getting doubled, or triple-teamed, when they try to attack the basket,” Allen said. “We have got to be able to share the basketball, and those kids have got to produce to alleviate that, make people think twice about doing that. Consistent scoring is one of the things we need.”

New Albany, which does not have a junior varsity, has been struggling with six straight losses, and this week only six varsity players were available for practice because of illnesses. Freshman forward Emily Spainhour leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.0, while sophomore Maizy Smith added 11.6 points. New Albany fell to North Harrison 60-43 on Thursday night.

BNL won last year’s clash 71-31 as Spreen scored 30 points and joined the list of 1,000-point career scorers. The Stars went on a devastating 28-0 run, and New Albany was guilty of 31 turnovers.


When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. (varsity only)

Records: BNL 7-1 (1-0 in HHC), ranked No.7 in Class 4A; New Albany 1-8 (0-0 in HHC)

Sagarin ratings: BNL 86.64; New Albany 63.60

Last meeting: Last year at BNL, the Stars cruised to a 71-31 victory. Chloe Spreen scored 30 points and joined the school’s 1K scoring list. Karsyn Norman added 14 points. Maizy Smith totaled 9 points for the Bulldogs.

Previous game story: Spreen’s a basketball 10

Game notes: BNL has won eight straight in the series, the last seven by an average margin of 32.1 points. New Albany’s only win this season came against Vincennes Rivet.

Starting lineups

Bedford NL Stars

F – Chloe Spreen 5-10 Sr.

F – Miley Sherrill 5-9 Fr.

G – Madisyn Bailey 5-9 Sr.

G – Trinidy Bailey 5-7 So.

G – Tori Nikirk 5-6 Jr.

New Albany Bulldogs

F – Maizy Smith 5-9 So.

F – Emily Spainhour 5-9 Fr.

G – Tori Bailey 5-6 So.

G – Reese Stiles 5-4 Sr.

G – Sophia Corley 5-7 Jr.