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Allen, Stars muscle past Center Grove to regional final

BNL’s Jorie Allen attacks a double-team in the post. Allen scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Stars smacked Center Grove 51-33 in the regional semifinal on Saturday morning.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Center Grove, with tough-as-nails defenders on the perimeter, landed the first jab, catching the target right between the eyes, staggering Bedford North Lawrence as it started with that glazed look of shock.

Then the Stars swung back, with power, with devastating interior punches. The Trojans, worn and weary, dropped hard, hitting the canvas as blow after blow took a toll.

Jorie Allen did most of the damage. BNL’s super senior, playing power basketball to perfection, scored 21 points and snagged 15 rebounds as the Stars decked No.8 Center Grove 51-33 in the Class 4A regional semifinal at BNL Fieldhouse on Saturday morning.

Madison Webb, the second half of BNL’s inside force, scored 13 points as the Stars (23-5) advanced to the championship game in defense of their title.

Speaking of defense, while BNL’s muscle was the difference on the offensive end, it was the grit and desire that shut down the Trojans (22-4), held to their second-lowest production of the season. The combination was the BNL team that started the year ranked among the elite.

Center Grove could not contain Allen, a menace in the low block and a terror on the offensive boards. She erupted with 11 second-quarter points as the Stars fought back from an early 9-2 deficit, and she delivered the knock-out connections as BNL went on a 26-5 run in the second half.

“We knew she’d be able to score,” Center Grove coach Kevin Stuckmeyer said. “We knew she’d score earned ones, we just had to make her earn as much as she could. We weren’t real deep on people who could match up in the post, and it wore down some of our players.

“She’s the best in the state at missing a shot and going right back up. Those are the ones you can’t allow to happen.”

BNL’s Jacy Hughes looks for an open teammate in the post. Hughes had 7 points.

Actually, there wasn’t much the undersized Trojans could do about it. Allen went into battle mode. Webb asserted herself in the paint. That was the BNL attack that won a sectional, the attack that could carry the Stars even deeper in the state tournament. Few teams have that duo.

“That’s the thing about having two bigs,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “If they’re going to pay that much attention to the perimeter, if we got them working high-low, we felt we would have some success.

“We talked about it all week, that’s how we wanted to play them. We finally got around to it in the first half, it got us back in the game.”

Center Grove’s guard aggression, always jumping passing lanes, always applying ultra-pressure to the dribbler, caught the Stars flat-footed before they adjusted. They went on their first extended streak, with Webb and Irye Gomez adding baskets to the Allen assault, and rumbled to a 17-11 lead. Center Grove’s Ella Thompson buried a trey to cut BNL’s lead to 20-17 at the half.

Thompson hit another bomb as the Trojans clawed even at 22-22 with 5:22 left in the third. Then the Stars started to connect. Webb swished a corner trey, Allen dropped a 10-footer, and Webb worked free for a beautiful reverse layup as BNL took a 33-24 lead to the final frame.

Center Grove, woozy from the barrage, was out of gas. Allen gathered a lost lob for a layup, Gracie Crulo-Rood cut for a layup, Gomez turned a long rebound into a runout and 3-point play. It was over.

“They are a tough team to play against,” Allen said. “We were kind of standing and watching the first few minutes. We were a little tight. But we stuck with it, made them stop Jorie and Madi. We thought they would have a difficult time.”

Thompson paced Center Grove with 11 points while Emma Utterback had 9. That just wasn’t enough firepower.

“We had solid defense,” Allen said. “If you can chase them off screens and make sure they don’t get get another shot, you’re putting yourself in position to win. I don’t think they shot it particularly well and I hope we had something to do with that.”

The Trojans were only 12-of-36 overall. BNL also dominated the glass 29-18.

“We weren’t quite as sharp offensively as we can be,” Stuckmeyer said. “They’re a really good defensive team. It’s no secret.”

BNL’s Madison Webb scored 13 points and added 7 rebounds.

Jacy Hughes added 7 points for the Stars, but another huge contribution was Gomez off the bench with 8 points, a steal, and some steadiness when BNL was in danger.

“Great play off the bench,” Allen said. “She continues to impress the coaching staff. That’s what you have to have in tournament time, those type of kids step up and play well. She’s the X factor.”

Gomez, constantly chewing gum, had to get an extra piece from the bench when she lost (or swallowed) her original portion. The better she played, the faster she chomped.

“I just bring high intensity of the bench and great effort,” Gomez said. “I just wanted to make it to tonight.”

BNL made it and will chase its 13th regional championship in Saturday night’s final at 7:30. The Stars face a rematch with Castle (22-4) after the Knights eliminated No.9 Bloomington South 56-45 in the second semifinal.

Jorie Allen had 9 baskets in the final three quarters to power the Stars to the regional final.


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

24 Emily Rake, f 0-0 2-3 0-0 1 1 4

15 Kylie Storm, f 0-0 0-1 1-2 3 4 1

3 Ashley Eck, g 0-1 2-6 2-4 1 2 6

23 Emma Utterback, g 0-5 4-13 1-4 4 4 9

22 Ella Thompson, g 3-4 3-5 2-2 3 2 11

33 Mary Wilson 0-2 1-8 0-0 3 0 2

12 Claire Rake 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 4 0

2 Alainna Frankel 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

11 Amanda Hoffman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 3-12 12-36 6-12 18 17 33


3s FGs FTs R F Pts

33 Jorie Allen, f 0-0 9-16 3-5 15 2 21

32 Madison Webb, c 1-1 4-8 4-4 7 2 13

11 Chloe McKnight, g 0-5 0-5 0-0 1 4 0

12 Jacy Hughes 1-3 1-3 4-4 2 1 7

24 Gracie Crulo-Rood 0-0 1-1 0-0 0 3 2

2 Irye Gomez 0-0 2-3 4-6 2 2 8

23 Jenna Louden 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

22 Allie Fugate 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 1 0

30 Katie Fisher 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

21 Abby Riley 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

3 Sylvia Woods 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 2-9 17-37 15-19 29 15 51

Center Grove 9 8 7 9 – 33

Bedford NL 5 15 13 18 – 51

Turnovers – Center Grove 12, BNL 12

Field goal percentage – Center Grove 12-36 (.333); BNL 17-37 (.459)

Free throw percentage – Center Grove 6-12 (.500); BNL 15-19 (.789)