No.7 Stars heading north to Northrup for matinee test

BNL’s Trinidy Bailey and the Stars will make a long trip to battle Fort Wayne Northrup on Saturday.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – The search for opponents, when the reputation for success extends across the Midwest, has taken Bedford North Lawrence across state lines and time zones, to the big-city lights and small-town centers of nowhere. Go anywhere, play anybody. BNL has been dropped off a lot of schedules faster than an oven-hot dish by bare hands.

The next road trip will be one of the longest, a 3-plus hour journey to clash with a first-time foe. Load up the Starcruiser.

Fort Wayne Northrup, coming off a 19-4 season, featuring a roster of college-bound talent, was having its own trouble filling out the slate for 2023-24. So these two strange bedfellows were thrown together for an interesting midseason test, a long way from home.

The Stars, ranked No.7 in Class 4A, will make that are-we-there-yet ride for an afternoon matinee with the Bruins (7-2), who will be a little weary after facing rival Fort Wayne South on Friday night. So the question will be whose legs will work best. Which is worse, game fatigue or bus fatigue?

BNL, coming off an atrocious offensive night during a win over Silver Creek, better bring the shooting shoes and be ready to run. Northrup has a high-octane offense that averages 63 points per game (13th in the state) with multiple weapons.

“They’re really athletic, and we’ll have to take away their transition as best we can,” said BNL assistant coach Chase Spreen, who was in charge of the long-range scouting for the Bruins. “The big thing for us is being composed offensively. They like to mix up their defenses.”

Northrup will feature senior forward Destini Craig, an IUPUI recruit who is averaging 16.4 points and 5.1 boards, and sophomore Khalsa Williams-Thomas (15.4). In addition, shooting guard Niya Bell contributes 13.4, and Valparaiso recruit Lexi Castator adds 8.6 points, 5.8 boards and 6.1 assists. The Bruins are also welcoming back Swynn Jackson, a starter last season who had foot surgery in October. She will add another shooter and ballhandler.

BNL’s Madisyn Bailey and the Stars will face a high-scoring opponent at Northrup.

While the distance hampers familiarity, Northrup coach Katie Jackson knows BNL star Chloe Spreen from previous AAU days.

“We’re excited to play against Chloe,” Jackson said. “She does everything. She’s a scorer, but she plays defense. And you have to block her out. There’s not a part of her game that she’s deficient. She continues to improve. It’s not her first shot that concerns me, it’s her second, because she has a nose for the ball.

“They’re disciplined, they’re not going to make many mistakes. We have to be prepared. It’s another opportunity to play another well-coached team.”

Spreen leads BNL in scoring (22.3) and rebounding (6.8). BNL’s other stats took quite a hit during the struggles against the Dragons, but Madisyn Bailey (10.3 points, 5.2 assists) and freshman Miley Sherrill (9.1 points) give the Stars other options.

“We have to make shots, more than we did (Thursday night),” Chase Spreen said. “We have the guards to handle the pressure and execute the things we do.”


When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 11-1, ranked No.7 in Class 4A; FW Northrop 7-2 (vs Fort Wayne South on Friday)

Sagarin ratings: BNL 91.44; FW Northrup 89.88

Last meeting: This is the first meeting in the series.

Game notes: The Bruins are averaging 63.0 points per game (13th in the state). BNL’s Chloe Spreen needs 32 points to catch Marla (Inman) Eltrevoog for third place, and 46 to catch Dominique McBryde for second, on BNL’s career scoring list.

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.

FW Northrup Bruins

F – Destini Craig 5-10 Sr.

F – Lexi Castator 6-2 Sr.

G – Khala Williams-Thomas 5-10 So.

G – Niya Bell 5-5 Sr.

G – Alivia Rice 5-7 So.