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Knights draw swords, stick Stars

BNL’s Madison Webb tracks down a loose ball. Webb had 13 points and didn’t miss a shot, but the Stars suffered a 56-51 loss to Castle on Saturday afternoon.

By Justin Sokeland

bnlathletics.com

BEDFORD – Knights of yesteryear went into battle with armor, with lethal weapons of iron and steel, with the physical skill to survive or pay the ultimate price.

Castle, tough and tenacious, was worthy of that nickname on Saturday afternoon, drawing swords and cutting down No.6 Bedford North Lawrence 56-51. Natalie Niehaus, a fierce freshman, had 18 points as the No.12 Knights lanced the Stars with defensive intensity and caught their foe with shields lowered.

Trace the difference to turnovers. BNL had six in the first quarter as Castle (13-3) took command, six more in the third when the margin was pushed back to double digits. The Stars made a desperate, frantic charge, but that was repelled. The wounds suffered before that were too grievious.


Castle’s backcourt ball pressure, wing denial and physical style pummeled the Stars into submission. In the hand-to-hand interior combat, BNL flourished as Jorie Allen (20 points) and Madison Webb (13 without missing a shot) were dominate. On the perimeter, Castle stormed to the higher ground. That’s always the best position. BNL, down 14 at one point, could not fight uphill all day and expect victory.

“I don’t think we handled the ball well today,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “Their pressure and physicality had something to do with it. I just don’t think we played well. You can’t get in a hole against a pretty good basketball team like that.”

Jessica Nunge, a slender spiker in the paint, added 15 points. She got Castle cruising with two baskets that broke an early 9-9 deadlock, and she swished a 3-pointer and curled inside for a layup and a 25-11 lead with 4:50 left in the first half. Do the math, that’s a 16-2 blast.

Jorie Allen scored 20 points and added 7 rebounds for the Stars (14-4).

From that low point, the Stars (14-4) scrambled and scratched. They got within four (30-26) in the third, they battled back within 52-49 with 53 seconds left. Each time, Castle calmly shoved back. Niehaus had the clincher, a 3-point play with 29.6 seconds remaining.

“Good win against a good team,” Castle coach Bob Meier said. “We were as patient as we’ve been all year long. Bedford is one of the storied programs in Indiana. To come up here and compete is great. Coming up here to compete and win, we really needed this.”

BNL’s offense was out of sync. Allen, Webb and reserve Irye Gomez combined to hit 17 of 23 shots. Everyone else? Not so much. The Stars were 5 of 15 from distance. And they only got to the foul line four times.

Allen took issue with that, and Meier was surprised by that. Castle was whistled for only 8 fouls. That’s not a reason, that’s just the numbers.

“You have to play through that stuff and make your own breaks,” Allen said. “We didn’t do that.”

Irye Gomez came off the bench to score 7 points.

“We guarded without fouling,” Meier said. “We’ve been putting people on the line a lot. We feel we have enough guard quickness to be long and keep the count on. That’s a big reason we won, keeping the pressure on.”

Hannah Hood totaled 10 points and Carly Harpenau added 9 for Castle, which beat BNL for the second straight time and won inside BNL Fieldhouse for the first time since the 2006–07 season opener.

Allen and Webb both had 7 rebounds. Webb had 11 points in the first half to keep the Stars from getting crushed, while Allen had 8 in the fourth to spearhead the comeback.

“I was proud of the kids for battling back, but we shouldn’t have been in that position,” Allen said. “We’re not handling the ball well, we’re not executing well, we’re not making shots. That’s a bad combination.”

BNL will have little time to recover. The Stars will visit Columbus East on Tuesday.

Madison Webb works in the post. Webb was 6-of-6 from the floor and grabbed 7 rebounds.

CASTLE KNIGHTS (56)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

30 Jessica Nunge, f 1-1 6-12 2-4 4 4 15

32 Natalie Niehaus, g 0-0 7-10 4-7 4 2 18

11 Carly Harpenau, g 0-1 4-7 1-2 2 0 9

42 Josie Freeman, g 0-0 2-5 0-1 3 1 4

22 Hannah Hood, g 1-2 4-6 1-2 2 1 10

40 McKenna Tutt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

21 Kial Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

12 Mikele Niehaus 0-0 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 2-4 23-41 8-16 18 8 56

BEDFORD NL STARS (51)

3s FGs FTs R F Pts

33 Jorie Allen, f 0-0 8-14 4-4 7 3 20

32 Madison Webb, c 1-1 6-6 0-0 7 2 13

11 Chloe McKnight, g 1-6 1-8 0-0 0 1 3

12 Jacy Hughes, g 1-5 1-7 0-0 2 2 3

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

30 Katie Fisher 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 0

2 Irye Gomez 1-1 3-3 0-0 0 2 7

22 Allie Fugate 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 0 3

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

Totals 5-15 21-41 4-4 24 14 51

Castle 16 13 14 13 – 56

BNL 11 11 11 18 – 51

Turnovers – Castle 7, BNL 14

Field goal percentage – Castle 23-41 (.561); BNL 21-41 (.512)

Free throw percentage – Castle 8-16 (.500); BNL 4-4 (1.000)