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Tested Stars ecstatic with fast start

No.7 BNL returns home

to face JC in HHC battle

BNL’s Katie Fisher and the Stars (6-1) have powered through the third-toughest schedule in the state.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – According to the Sagarin computer ratings, which has become the basketball reference bible, No.7 Bedford North Lawrence has plowed through the third-toughest schedule in the state.

Oh really. Third? Anyone else faced five ranked opponents, four on the road? Are those numbers like the questionable Florida vote count? The Stars, ecstatic at 6-1, have muscled through extreme challenges, losing to No.3 North Central when junior center Madison Webb went out early with a right knee injury. She’s back, and BNL at full strength is full of confidence.

BNL will return to the Hoosier Hills Conference battles on Tuesday night, welcoming Jennings County (3-3, 0-1) to BNL Fieldhouse. The Stars shared the league title with Jeffersonville last season. After winning their conference opener at Jeffersonville, they intend to be more selfish about that honor.

”We can’t allow any slippage,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We want to be in control.”

No slippage? The beauty of BNL’s super start has been exactly that, when Allen has called on his bench to contribute. His nine-player rotation has included Allie Fugate, Katie Fisher, Jenna Louden and Irye Gomez, and each has given something to one of the key victories.

Jorie Allen leads the Stars in scoring (20.4) and rebounding (9.0).

“I’ve got four kids coming of that bench that are giving me quality minutes every time I call their name,” Allen said. “It might not be on the scoreboard, but it will be a defensive stop, a rebound, a steal. They’ve made us deeper. That’s the whole part of basketball that I love, the team concept. That will pay dividends down the road. The future is bright.”

Jorie Allen, the Miss Basketball candidate and Indiana University recruit, still leads the Stars in scoring (20.4) and rebounding (9.0). Other Stars have been timely with their scoring – Jacy Hughes at 8.3, Webb at 5.8, Chloe McKnight at 8.0.

“I’m extremely happy with this group, and what they accomplished during that tough stretch,” Allen said. “That’s some really tough, ranked opponents, and I said if we could go 6-1 in that stretch, we would be in position to do something really special.

“These kids have gotten a lot of confidence. We’ve had some tough games where younger kids have faced pressure situations, and we’ve grown as a team. I think the toughness of the kids, and their togetherness, has been the combination that has gotten us through those games.”

The Panthers have dropped back-to-back games against Jeffersonville (60-50) and Rushville (56-44). BNL won last year’s game 49-37 (despite shooting 6 of 29 from long range) as Allen scored 15 points.

“They typically cause us problems,” Allen said. “There’s something about the way they play. It’s always a challenge.”

BNL sophomore Chloe McKnight has been a key offensive contributor for the Stars.

Jennings County at BNL

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 6-1 (1-0 in HHC), ranked No.7 in Class 4A; Jennings County 3-3 (0-1 in HHC)

Sagarin ratings: BNL 96.30; Jennings County 74.08

Last meeting: Last year at Jennings, BNL lumbered to a 49-37 win. Jorie Allen had 15 points, Jacy Hughes added 11, and Katie Fisher added 10 off the bench for the Stars. Callie Wilder had 14 for the Panthers.

Game notes: BNL owns 15 straight wins in the series, dating back to the 2007-08 regular season.

Starting lineups

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.

Jennings County Panthers

F – Callie Wilder 5-10 Sr.

G – Lily Ernstes 5-7 Fr.

G – Madi Skinner 5-7 Sr.

G – Addyson Kent 5-5 So.

G – Kylee Matern 5-9 Sr.