By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Perhaps Bedford North Lawrence needs a hug. Or a kick in the pants. Maybe a combination of both. The Stars certainly need a victory. A championship would definitely feel good at this point.
After recent stumbles, with three losses in their last five games, the Stars will seek some steadiness and attempt to restore some order when they visit Columbus East on Tuesday night.
BNL (14-4) can clinch of share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title with a win over the Olympians (8-7), and a crown fitting would soothe some bruised psyche after some fitful performances. The recent setbacks have come against outstanding competition, but the Stars have not been pleased by their level of play.
The latest example was Saturday’s 56-51 loss to No.12 Castle, which looked like a definite candidate to make a return trip to the Class 4A regional. The Knight surprised the Stars with a tenacious, physical defense that forced multiple turnovers during key runs and made BNL’s offensive execution and efficiency quite difficult.
“It’s frustrating from the standpoint you’d like to be playing well right now,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said, quite aware the postseason is looming and a gloomy attitude is concerning with so little time left. “We don’t feel like we are.
“We need to come back, bounce back and play well. That’s one of our goals. We still have the ability to attain all our goals this year. That game doesn’t change that.”
BNL (5-0 in the HHC) won a share of the league championship last season, but the Stars haven’t secured the outright title since 2015 – back when they were dominating with a 30-game league winning streak. BNL could end that mild slump with two victories (including Saturday’s league finale at Floyd Central) this week.
Could East spoil the coronation? Definitely, if sensational freshman Koryn Greiwe isn’t kept in check.
Greiwe is averaging 18.6 points and 2.9 assists, and she’s already torched Bloomingon South (31 points) and Franklin Central (a career-high 32) this season. She will need contributions from senior Claire Cunningham (8.6 points, 7.1 rebounds) and junior Whitley Rankin (7.2 points) to upset BNL’s title march.
“We will have to be at our best against a strong BNL team,” said veteran East coach Danny Brown, who just recorded his 300th career victory.
BNL will counter with senior star Jorie Allen (20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds) and junior center Madison Webb (13 points against Castle without missing a shot, backing up her solid play in the Hall of Fame Classic). The Stars will need backcourt stability – both in terms of ballhandling and shot making – going forward. BNL has averaged 15 turnovers in the three recent losses.
BNL at COLUMBUS EAST
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: BNL 14-4 (5-0 in HHC), ranked No.9 in Class 4A; East 8-7 (1-2 in HHC)
Sagarin ratings: BNL 90.95; East 73.83
Last meeting: The Stars swept two games from the Olympians last season, winning the regular-season game 70-50 at BNL, then taking the rematch 57-36 in the regional semifinal at Columbus North.
Game notes: BNL has won eight straight games in the series. East coach Danny Brown recorded his 300th career victory on Friday as the Olympians conquered Connersville.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Jorie Allen 6-1 Sr.
C – Madison Webb 6-2 Jr.
G – Chloe McKnight 5-8 So.
G – Jacy Hughes 5-5 Sr.
G – Gracie Crulo-Rood 5-5 Jr.
Columbus East Olympians
F – Claire Cunningham 6-1 Sr.
F – Sarah Park 5-9 Sr.
F – Katie Dougherty 5-7 Jr.
G – Koryn Greiwe 5-6 Fr.
G – Whitley Rankin 5-4 Jr.