Spreen climbs, other options shine as Sherrill and shooters power BNL past Evansville Central

BNL freshman Miley Sherrill pulls the trigger from long range during Thursday’s clash with Evansville Central. Sherrill scored a game-high 16 points as the Stars stopped the Bears 51-39.

By Justin Sokeland


BEDFORD – The options were dwindling. With the superstar shadowed by two defenders everywhere but the Bedford North Lawrence huddle, with the other experienced senior starter exhausting her energy on the defensive end, with the hard-nosed opponent threatening the road upset, there was no other choice. Another hero – or multiple ones – had to emerge.

BNL kept its options open. Or in this case, the open shooter was the best alternative.

Trailing as the fourth quarter started, the sixth-ranked Stars went deeper into the make-a-play list for a comeback victory. Freshman forward Miley Sherrill answered the call for additional help, scoring 16 points as BNL battled past Evansville Central for a 51-39 win on Thursday night.

Chloe Spreen, the Miss Basketball candidate who demands the double-team respect, was limited to a season-low 10 points, although one of her buckets pushed her to second place on the program’s elite career scoring list. Central’s solution to the Spreen Conundrum was also its ultimate downfall, as Trinidy Bailey and Tori Nikirk were invited to launch and hit dagger treys while totaling 9 points each. Take that, scouting report.

The Stars (14-2) scored the final 11 points during the last five minutes to pull away, creating a bigger margin than the game script. That late run included superb plays from Spreen, Sherrill and Madisyn Bailey, although BNL would not have been in that position without early contributions from the younger Bailey (9 points in the first quarter) and the fearless Nikirk (two bombs to put BNL in front early in the fourth).

BNL coach Jeff Allen has been preaching about offense from other sources. This time, the Stars had no choice.

“They had to. And they did,” Allen said. “Trinidy in the first half, Miley and Tori in the second half. That’s what we have to have. Everyone is going to focus on Chloe and Madisyn, try to take them away, and those other kids have to score. They made plays.”

The key plays came in the fourth quarter. Central (13-3) owned a 33-30 advantage when the period began. The first Nikirk bomb put the Stars in front, the next broke a 35-35 deadlock and gave BNL a lead it would not relinquish. Next was the Spreen bucket – a layup for a 3-point play after a Sherrill steal in the backcourt – that powered her to the second spot in the career pecking order. And the final highlight was a Spreen drive and dish for a Sherrill layup and 45-39 lead with 2:40 left. The Bears had no bite after that.

BNL’s Chloe Spreen launches a jumper over Central’s Mimi White. Spreen scored 10 points.

“We outplayed them for three quarters, at least we gave them everything we’ve got,” Central coach Dave Alexander said. “We got a little fatigued at the end, they executed better down the stretch. It’s frustrating. We didn’t do the things we needed to do at the end, and they did. That’s why they’re the program they are.”

BNL’s best moments were actually its earliest. Trinidy Bailey sparked that with three from long range (matching her total baskets from the previous three games) as the Stars bolted to a 14-5 edge. Central sophomore star Madalynn Shirley ended that spurt with a 3-point play, and that set the tone for Central’s 18-6 run from that point. BNL went 1 of 12 from the floor in the second quarter and trailed 23-20 at the break.

Sherrill broke loose in the third quarter, drilling a trey and scoring twice on back-to-back transition layups for a 30-26 lead. Once again, with Spreen surrounded and swarmed, BNL went silent for the final 2:55 of that frame, with Mya Skelton’s late bomb creating the 33-30 Central lead that BNL had to erase.

“We had to out-battle them in the second half, and I thought the kids stepped up and did that,” Allen said. “In the second quarter, they took it to us. We played a little soft, they were more the aggressor and punched us around. In the second half we did a better job of fighting and competing, got some separation to get away from them.”

BNL’s Trinidy Bailey finds room to drive. Bailey totaled 9 points.

BNL didn’t shoot well, especially with that ugly second quarter, but did most of its damage from long range. Spreen found too much traffic in her usual driving lanes, and the elder Bailey was suffering through a slump. They combined to hit 6 of 26 shots. Any other night, most other teams, that’s fatal.

“When they’ve got a leading scorer like that, we’ll make two more beat us,” Alexander said. “Nikirk did a good job hitting some, Bailey got them going early. Those are the ones where I tell the team, if they hit them, that’s on me. And they did. We did a phenomenal job on Spreen, just making life hard for her. She’s a phenomenal player, and I’m glad she’s a senior.”

Madisyn Bailey’s significance was on the other end. Shirley scored 10 first-quarter points, then only had one basket when BNL’s top defender was switched to battle Central’s scoring leader. Bailey won that round.

“Same thing they did in the regional (last season), they moved Madisyn Bailey on her,” Alexander said. “She’s a physical defensive player, and she was able to knock her off her spots.”

Evansville Central’s Madalynn Shirley fights with Miley Sherrill for a loose ball. Shirley had 13 points.

“She’s burning a lot of gas,” Allen said. “I think Shirley is a nice player. Madisyn did a great job on her. It takes a lot of gas when you’re guarding someone who is good offensively. So I can understand why her offense suffered sometimes. She gets the toughest defensive assignment, and I don’t know how fair that is. Coaches do that.”

Shirley finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Mimi White had 11 points, and Skelton added 10.

Spreen now has 1,677 career points, having passed Dominque McBryde (1,672) for the second spot. The only one above her is Jorie Allen, the 2019 Miss Basketball who scored 1,930 points.

“She has worked so hard, as a freshman and all the way through high school, on improving her game and being a great teammate,” coach Allen said. “Doing the things we needed her to do, when it wasn’t always about her scoring points. That’s really impressive, when you have a kid with that attitude, and now she’s in second place. If she was more selfish, she might be in first place already, but she’s not that type of kid. It’s a great accomplishment for her. I hope she gets the top record.”

BNL will return to action on Jan. 3, when it travels to face No.7 Jennings County in a titanic clash for the Hoosier Hills Conference lead.

BNL’s Chloe Spreen prepares to attack Central’s defense. Spreen moved into second place on the school’s career scoring list.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

32 Maddy Shirley, f 1-1 5-9 2-3 11 3 13

23 Mimi White, f 0-1 4-8 3-3 3 0 11

12 Mya Skelton, g 2-4 4-9 0-0 5 3 10

15 Lindsey Laine, g 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 1 0

3 Avery Kelley, g 1-1 2-6 0-0 4 1 5

11 Bryanna Dockery 0-2 0-3 0-0 1 0 0

25 Olivya Hile 0-0 0-1 0-0 1 0 0

13 Aubrie Durham 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

Totals 4-9 15-37 5-6 27 7 39


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

2 Chloe Spreen, f 1-4 4-14 1-1 8 2 10

22 Miley Sherrill, f 2-4 5-7 4-4 5 1 16

24 Madisyn Bailey, g 1-7 2-12 2-4 4 2 7

32 Trinidy Bailey, g 3-4 3-5 0-0 4 1 9

12 Tori Nikirk, g 3-7 3-7 0-0 1 3 9

20 Bella Jackson 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 0

23 Katie Godlevske 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 10-28 17-47 7-9 24 10 51

Evan. Central 13 10 10 6 – 39

Bedford NL 17 3 10 21 – 51

Turnovers – Central 14, BNL 5

Field goal percentage – Central 15-37 (.405); BNL 17-47 (.362)

Free throw percentage – Central 5-6 (.833); BNL 7-9 (.778)