By Justin Sokeland
SELLERSBURG – Nobody – except those girls in the black shirts with Creek on the front – will remember this June scrimmage. Nothing counts, thankfully. That does not downgrade its importance.
Bedford North Lawrence, heading into a transition season without a departed Miss Basketball and the career scoring leader, had been perfect this month, taking the first steps toward a new identity with wins to steady the uncertainty. The Stars finally stumbled on Wednesday evening.
Silver Creek, coming off a 15-8 season and replacing four seniors with two talented and recent transfers, stunned BNL 55-48, exposing some weaknesses in the process. That’s the whole point of the exercise, and the Stars got a good workout from that viewpoint.
The Dragons flamed to a 9-2 lead, withstood BNL’s only serious charge, and took control early in the second half while roaring to an 11-point advantage. Caught by surprise, perhaps? Silver Creek was definitely better than expected, from both camps.
The Stars got singed, leaving with that burnt crust smell that purses the lips. Yuck. It will dissipate quickly and be forgotten, but the lessons to be learned will linger. BNL is definitely a work in progress, and head coach Jeff Allen expects that to last “until December.”
The positives? BNL can find scorers for the Jorie Allen void. Madison Webb, expected to be a force in the paint, had 13 points. Irye Gomez, who flashed brilliant moments during last season’s 23-6 run to the regional final, added 10. Freshman guard Karsyn Norman, already holding a Division I scholarship offer, will make an immediate impact.
The negatives? The Stars need a physical presence. They got out-toughed on the boards, gave up multiple third-shot points, missed too many easy looks. If statistics had been kept, the rebounding numbers would have been troubling. So there’s plenty of room, and time, for improvement.
“Their physical play bothered us,” Allen said. “We’re pretty small, and that’s something we’ll have to get better at, get used to. I like the pieces we have. To me, the big Achilles’ heel is rebounding and physical play. That’s something we’ll have to work at and understand.”
Silver Creek didn’t know its own limitations or strengths. The Dragons got a huge boost when sisters Kynidi and Alana Striverson moved across the muddy Ohio River from Louisville Male three weeks ago, and they made a supreme difference, combining for 25 points.
Silver Creek coach Scott Schoen, entering his 10th season with the program, was quick to accept the BNL offer for a scrimmage. He anticipated the worst, got the best.
“Heck, yeah,” Schoen said when the phone call came. “This was a win-win for us. I have all the respect in the world for Bedford, all they’ve done. Goodness gracious.
“If we come in and get blown out, we can tell the girls we’re not even close to where we need to be. If we can compete, then we’re starting to get there and see glimpses of what we will be.”
He didn’t add a “if we win” scenario. The Dragons, who play every Hoosier Hills Conference team except BNL (and don’t be surprised if this match-up is added to the 2019-20 regular-season schedule) and Jennings County, did more than just compete.
“We can play physical,” Schoen said. “That’s the style we want to play. We hit key threes, but we didn’t live and die by it.”
Creek lived off BNL miscues. After the Stars erased the early deficit and raced to a 23-21 lead, Creek closed the first half with another 9-2 burst, capped by Alana Striverson’s steal and basket off a botched BNL attempt for a late bucket. The Dragons started the second half with back-to-back treys from Jacklyn Emly and Striverson for a 36-25 lead. BNL never got closer than 4 after that, missing too many close-range shots to cobble together a run.
“This was like a conference game on the road, where we have to find a way to win,” Allen said. “We’ve seen what we need to see, what our weaknesses are. It was really a good thing for our kids to see and we’ll be better as the season goes along.”
“They play so hard, scrappy, they get after it,” Schoen said. “I kept telling the girls ‘They’re not going to quit.’ They’re not going to say ‘Hey, it’s June.’”
Hey, it is June, and BNL will conclude the month with a final scrimmage on Friday, facing Evansville North in BNL Fieldhouse at 4:30 p.m.