Justin Sokeland


BNL remains No.5 in ICGA 4-A poll

By Justin Sokeland


Bedford North Lawrence remained at No.5 in the latest Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association Class 4-A girls basketball poll.

The Lady Stars (3-0) are slotted behind No.1 Hamilton Southeastern (3-0), Lawrence North (2-0), Columbus North (2-0) and Fort Wayne South (3-0). BNL will entertain Corydon (3-0) on Saturday afternoon.

BNL is ranked No.2 in the Sagarin computer power ratings behind Hamilton Southeastern.

BNL is also ranked No.5 in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll, which does not separate teams into classes.

Columbus North is No.1 in that poll, and the Bull Dogs will host Lawrence North on Saturday. Both those teams have games Tuesday as well, with Columbus North hosting winless Shelbyville while Lawrence North hosts Indianapolis Tech.


1. Hamilton Southeastern (3-0)

at Fishers (2-1), 7:30 pm Wednesday

at Carmel (2-1), 7:30 pm Saturday

2. Lawrence North (2-0)

vs. Indianapolis Tech (1-2), 7:30 pm Tuesday

at Columbus North (2-0), 2:30 pm Saturday

3. Columbus North (2-0)

vs. Shelbyville (0-3), 7:30 pm Tuesday

vs. Lawrence North (2-0), 2:30 pm Saturday

4. Fort Wayne South (3-0)

idle for the week

5. Bedford North Lawrence (3-0)

vs. Corydon Central (3-0), 1:30 pm Saturday

6. Greenwood (4-0)

vs. Plainfield (1-1), 7:30 pm Wednesday

at Mooresville (2-1), 12:30 pm Saturday

7. Northridge (2-0)

vs. Jimtown (1-2), 7:30 pm Tuesday

vs. Elkhart Central (1-3), 6:15 pm Wednesday

vs. Hobart (4-0), 1:30 pm Saturday

8. Merrillville (3-0)

vs. Portage (3-0), 8:30 pm Wednesday

9. Logansport (4-0)

idle for the week

10. Westfield (3-1)

vs. New Palestine (0-2), 7:30 pm Tuesday

at Harrison (West Lafayette) (2-2), 1:30 pm Saturday




1. Columbus North (2-0)

vs. Shelbyville (0-3), 7:30 pm Tuesday

vs. Lawrence North (2-0), 2:30 pm Saturday

2. Hamilton Southeastern (3-0)

at Fishers (2-1), 7:30 pm Wednesday

at Carmel (2-1), 7:30 pm Saturday

3. Lawrence North (2-0)

vs. Indianapolis Tech (1-2), 7:30 pm Tuesday

at Columbus North (2-0), 2:30 pm Saturday

4. Fort Wayne South (3-0)

idle for the week

5. Bedford North Lawrence (3-0)

vs. Corydon Central (3-0), 1:30 pm Saturday

6. Merrillville (3-0)

vs. Portage (3-0), 8:30 pm Wednesday

7. Fort Wayne Canterbury (4-0)

idle for the week

8. Evansville Mater Dei (2-0)

vs. Forest Park (2-0), 8:00 pm Tuesday

9. Greenwood (4-0)

vs. Plainfield (1-1), 7:30 pm Wednesday

at Mooresville (2-1), 12:30 pm Saturday

10. Pike (2-0)

vs. North Central (Indianapolis) (1-1), 6:00 pm Wednesday

10. Fort Wayne Snider (2-1)

at Huntington North (0-3), 7:45 pm Tuesday

12. Penn (1-1)

at South Bend Adams (1-1), 7:45 pm Tuesday

13. Logansport (4-0)

idle for the week

14. Mount Vernon (Fortville) (3-0)

vs. Hamilton Heights (3-1), 7:30 pm Wednesday

15. Ben Davis (1-1)

vs. Perry Meridian (1-2), 7:30 pm Wednesday

16. Brownsburg (2-1)

at Lafayette Jeff (2-2), 7:30 pm Saturday

17. North Central (Indianapolis) (1-1)

at Pike (2-0), 6:00 pm Wednesday

at Anderson (1-1), 1:30 pm Saturday

18. Westfield (3-1)

vs. New Palestine (0-2), 7:30 pm Tuesday

at Harrison (West Lafayette) (2-2), 1:30 pm Saturday

19. Norwell (3-0)

vs. Fort Wayne Concordia (3-0), 7:45 pm Tuesday


Column: BNL’s ‘secret’ is shot selection

BNL sophomorte Alexa Bailey and the rest of the guards are running the offense through the interior, the reason the Lady Stars are shooting 60 percent as a team this season.

BNL coach Kurt Godlevske

The numbers are simply astounding, close to unbelievable, surely unsustainable.

Three games makes any compiled statistics more of a streak than a constant, but it’s still amazing. No.5 Bedford North Lawrence is shooting 60 percent as a team. Four starters are over that mark.

Leading scorers and first options Jenna Allen (80 percent) and Dominique McBryde (79.2 percent) have combined to miss 10 shots. Are the Lady Stars playing in gymnasiums with clown-sized rims? Is there a magnet in the basketball? Everything is going in.

This isn’t a driveway game of HORSE. Or the Larry Bird-Michael Jordan duel, thanks to the magic of video editing, for a Big Mac. These aren’t unguarded free-throw attempts. This is the heat of battle, with defenders clawing and scratching. Mere mortals miss once in a while.

What is the BNL secret? Is it the limestone in the water? Is it a Harry Potter spell?

Actually, the answer is simple and it’s neither mystical nor geological.

It’s shot selection – who’s taking them, when they’re taking them, where they’re taking them. It’s offensive execution, it’s discipline. And it’s talent. BNL (3-0) has thus far, just a few steps into the regular season, played with all those characteristics.

“We have skilled kids in the right positions, and the skill they all seem to have is basketball smarts,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “They understand what is a good shot, what is not a good shot. That’s a gift they seem to have grown into, and they’ve bought into what we’re trying to do.”

Let’s define “good shot.” It is one attempted by the right person, from a comfortable position, without defensive obstruction. It’s one the shooter has a high-percentage chance – which usually means a more realistic 50 percent, not an unearthly 80 – of making without miraculous intervention.

In BNL’s case, that means sophomores Allen and McBryde – commonly and collectively known as “The Bigs” – get the ball in the paint, where 6-foot-3 kids can do damage. That means junior Brittani Rizzi gets her feet set and shoulders square from the 3-point line, where she is deadly. That means sophomore Alexa Bailey drives to the basket, that junior Sammy Dillman gets loose in transition or left alone for a jumper.

“We run stuff to get our shooters open,” Bailey explained. “We take the open shot if we have it. We’re looking inside first, then outside, so we’re running off the bigs.”

“The Bigs” require assistance to score. Someone must deliver the basketball to them. Good coaches love good guards, because they are crucial. Their primary job, in the BNL system, is not launching from long range, even though that looks pretty when successful. It’s doing the dirty work of directing, screening and passing. That makes an offense click.

“I think our development, what our focus is, how we’re trying to play, is a big credit to the three guards,” Godlevske said. “They all have a unique skill, and they’re being unselfish. That’s what we have, good teammates. They play together awfully well.”

Former Jeffersonville girls coach Chad Gilbert, now with the Jeff boys program, watched Saturday’s win over the Red Devils and liked what he saw from BNL. His team won the 2010 4-A state title with “bigs” as the stars. Those Devils didn’t have anyone who could consistently hit a shot from outside of 12 feet, so they rarely took one. They knew their strength.

Current Jeffersonville Matt Pait watched the Stars shoot 24 of 35 against his current Devils. He didn’t like it but had to be impressed.

“They’re really patient to get what they want,” Pait said. “They don’t shoot too many bad shots. They go inside or get open threes, and they do a really good job of waiting until they get one of those two things.

“They cut extremely hard, they screen well.  It’s just fundamentals. They’re going to do what they do. They’re a very good team and they’re going to shoot well if you leave them open.”

The Stars didn’t sell their souls to beat the Devils. They simply played smart basketball. The number of bad shots could be counted on one hand. The “Bigs” got the ball inside and often.

“It’s pretty easy, when you have someone as athletic as Dominique,” Bailey said. “Jenna has great hands, so if you throw anything in there she’ll get it and put it in.”

As long as the Stars don’t forget that, as long as the guards take care of the ball (18 turnovers was a bit too much) and wait patiently for the opportunities that will come when defenses collapse to plug the middle, BNL will continue to post absurd numbers.

It’s an easy game when it’s done correctly. Right now, the Stars are doing a lot of things well. It bodes well.


Allen powers BNL to 62-46 win at Jeffersonville

Jenna Allen

Dominique McBryde

Sophomore center

scores 27 points

as BNL holds off

Jeff’s late charge


Box score

By Justin Sokeland


JEFFERSONVILLE – The challenge, both physical and mental, brought to bear against Bedford North Lawrence demanded an immediate and perfectly-calculated response.

The Stars had the exact answer – find Jenna Allen.

The sophomore center scored 27 points, including key buckets to calm the Jeff storm in the fourth quarter, as Class 4-A No.5 BNL held off the Red Devils 62-46 Saturday night, starting the defense of its Hoosier Hills Conference championship with its first road win at Jeffersonville since the 2000-01 season.

Allen’s best night was complimented by Alexa Bailey’s 14 points and Dominique McBryde’s 13 as BNL

improved to 3-0 overall, 1-0 in the league.

Victory seemed assured, then had to be cemented. BNL cruised to a 21-point advantage late in the third quarter, then triggered an anxiety attack while the Red Devils (2-1, 0-1) went on an 18-2 burst that carved the difference to 47-42 with four minutes left.

The next three possessions were critical. Bailey knifed toward the bucket and spotted an open Allen, who scored while drawing a foul and completed the three-point play. Following a Sammy Dillman breakaway layup, Allen again broke open in the paint and Dillman delivered the pass for the basket that gave the Stars a 10-point edge.

From there, Bailey and Brittani Rizzi were perfect from the line to keep the Devils pinned down.

Their resolve was questioned during the Jeff blitz.

“Our kids were not happy about that, which is the first sign of a good team,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “The second thing is they knew where to go with the basketball. The two plays Sammy and Alexa made were great reads.”

Allen was a tremendous finisher. She was 12 of 14 from the field and wore a huge hole in the middle of Jeffersonville’s defense.

“She’s a big girl,” Jeffersonville coach Matt Pait said. “She’s hard to get around. We had a hard time fronting her, and when we played behind we didn’t push her out far enough to

Alexa Bailey

make her make a move. She’s bigger than us, and she finishes really well. We did struggle with guarding post play.”

Allen credited her guards for getting her the ball in prime position.

“I just get open and they let me have it, “ she said. And that sounds simple enough.

BNL continued its torrid shooting while zipping in front. The Stars were 14 of 18 in the first half en route to a 32-20 lead, then cooled off (to a mere 60 percent) in the third quarter as the margin swelled to 45-24 and a blowout looked imminent.

The Devils responded with a physical defense that had BNL out of sync.

“It was taking the fight to them,” Pait said. “We could either come back and make it a game, or get blown out. We could compete, or lay down. I give our girls credit, they kept competing. I’m proud of them that we kept fighting.”

The Jeff run featured baskets by Haley Vogen, Emily Gray and Nichole Midgett (a 3-pointer that banked in from the wing). It was Vogen’s spin move on the baseline that capped the charge and cut the BNL lead to five.

“It was a challenge our guards needed,” Godlevske said. “It was a good learning experience for all our kids – not only to be able to handle that physical play, but to make adjustments in the flow of the game. To me, that’s how sectional basketball is played.”

Gray had 13 points and Midgett added 9 (all on treys). Vogen and Aurreeshae Hines had eight apiece. The Devils hope to get a second look at BNL in the sectional in February.

“It was a really good test,” Pait said. “For as young as they are, they’re experienced. I don’t think we gave them our best effort, but we fought the whole game. Hopefully we can see them down the road.”

If the Devils want a rematch, they’ll have to either grow taller or cut BNL’s interior players down the size. Allen and McBryde were a combined 18 of 21 shooting.

“Let’s face it,” Godlevske said. “We have two bigs that play together that maybe nobody in the state has. Our guards are starting to recognize how much of a help that can be.”

It’s the reason BNL hit 24 of 35 shots (68.6 percent) and overcame the 18 turnovers.


Lady Stars headed toward ‘den of despair’

BNL hasn’t won

at Jeffersonville

BNL sophomore Dominique McBryde

since 2000-01


By Justin Sokeland


Bedford North Lawrence will start the defense of its Hoosier Hills Conference title when the No.5 Lady Stars journey to Jeffersonville Saturday night.

The two programs represent the historic elite of the league. BNL leads the pack with 14 outright or shared conference crowns, while Jeffersonville is second with 13. Both have two state championships. And they are potential sectional opponents when the state tournament begins.

“It’s huge,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “It’s been a big game since I’ve been here, and it will continue to be a big game.”

The Red Devils (1-0) are regrouping after winning their 4-A state crown in 2010. Program architect Chad Gilbert left to coach the Jeff boys team, and his successor (Jana Costner) last only one year. Former Jeff player Matt Pait took over last summer and started to restore what last season’s disappointing 9-11 campaign took away.

“This is a new team,” said Pait, who was an assistant coach with the Jeff boys for four years. “We have to forget the past and move on. We’re just trying to be really positive. We’re just trying to coach basketball, teach the fundamentals. Hopefully we can build from there.”

Jeffersonville showed promise in its opener, rallying from a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat North Harrison 72-57. Junior forward Haley Vogen (who averaged 11.6 points per game last year) had 22 points and 9 rebounds against the Cougars, while sophomore center Emily Gray had 20 points.

“We have to show them they are good, and they can win,” Pait said. “Once they figure that out for themselves, the sky is the limit. We’ll be very fundamentally sound. We’ll try to play to our strengths. Mainly my teams will play extremely hard.”

That approach will be tested against the Stars.

BNL (2-0) was brilliant in its last outing, thumping No.14 Mooresville 65-45. BNL sophomores Dominique McBryde and Jenna Allen combined to make all 13 of their shots, and the Stars strolled to a 16-0 lead before the Pioneers could pick up the pieces.

“For us to be able to handle them like we did, it’s a big statement,” Godlevske said.

BNL has some eye-popping stats in a small sample. Allen (14.5), McBryde (13.0), Brittani Rizzi (14.0) and Sammy Dillman (10.5) are all averaging double figures. The Stars are shooting 56.5 percent – including 50 percent from 3-point range. McBryde, Allen and Dillman are all shooting over 73 percent from the field.

But they are headed into a den of despair in recent years. BNL hasn’t left Jeffersonville with a road win since a 79-75 overtime decision during the 2000-01 season.

“It’s a tough place to play,” Godlevske said.

BNL swept two games from the Devils last year. BNL won the regular-season game 51-32, then cruised through the sectional opener at Seymour with a 59-45 win as Dillman scored 21 points. Vogen had 15 for the Devils.

Turnovers will be a vital stat. BNL, averaging 15 turnovers per game, wants to get into its rhythm, pound the ball inside first, and depend on its execution. Jeffersonville wants to create an uncomfortable tempo.

“They look like they’re one of the contenders,” Godlevske said. “They really get out and make it a fast-paced game. I think it’ll be key for us to take care of the basketball, take care of the Vogen girl. We have to keep them in front of us. They’re one of the more athletic teams we’ll face.”





When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: BNL 2-0 (0-0 HHC), ranked No.5 in Class 4-A; Jeffersonville 1-0 (0-0 HHC, hosts Silver Creek Friday)

Series: Jeffersonville leads 21-19

Last meeting: BNL beat the Red Devils twice last year. The Lady Stars won the regular-season game 51-32 before bouncing Jeffersonville out of the first round of the sectional 59-45.

Game note: BNL and Jeffersonville have combined to win 27 HHC titles since the league started during the 1980-81 season.

BNL starting lineup

F – Dominique McBryde 6-2 So.

C – Jenna Allen 6-3 So.

G – Brittani Rizzi 5-7 Jr.

G – Alexa Bailey 5-7 So.

G – Sammy Dillman 5-6 Jr.

Jeffersonville lineup

F – Haley Vogen 6-0 Jr.

C – Emily Gray 5-11 So.

F – Taylor Davis 5-6 Sr.

G– Aurreeshae Hines 5-5 Jr.

G – Nichole Midgett 5-2 Sr.


Column: Lady Stars play with wisdom beyond their years

The words to the popular song by FUN perfectly describes Bedford North Lawrence’s basketball blitz of Mooresville:

“Tonight . . . we are young. So let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.” Sing along if you like. It’s a catchy tune once you’ve heard it a few hundred times, when you let the kids control the car radio.

The Lady Stars are young, with three sophomores in the starting lineup. Two of them are the first, best options for the offense. The other is the defensive quarterback, talking non-stop and directing traffic. And they don’t care how old they are. They can play.

They set the world on fire Tuesday night at BNL Fieldhouse. They burned brighter than the sun.

The sophomore power duo of Dominique McBryde and Jenna Allen didn’t miss a shot. Neither did junior point guard Sammy Dillman. In the second half, neither did junior shooter Brittani Rizzi. They torched Mooresville with a 16-0 opening burst en route to a 65-45 victory that was impressive for its brutal beatdown and beauty.

Ordinary basketball teams don’t hit 24 of 37 shots – not even unguarded in practice on some days.

Young teams don’t dismantle an opponent that just bounced the defending Class 4-A champions.

Before risking hyperbole and spinning it out of control, BNL does have some questions to answer. Depth? Experience? They might need more. But, on this night, with the more meaningful battles of February a long way off, they were virtually flawless to the point of being scary good.

“This game proved to us we can be good,” Rizzi said. “It feels good. It shows we have the ability to be a really good team. We have the ability to go as far as we can. It’s all on us. It’s where we want to go and how much effort we put into it. We’re good enough to go far.”

The most impressive part was BNL’s execution. The pathway to greatness goes through McBryde and Allen.

“That’s where we want to go to,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “We think we have two players that nobody else in the state has. We knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do.”

McBryde and Allen combined for 31 points, hitting 13 consecutive shots. That inside-first approach opened the door for Rizzi to drill four 3-pointers and total 16 points.

“I think they have a really strong team,” Mooresville coach Mark Hurt said. “They have everything, some quickness, some size, they do a good job of executing.  It was good for us, to see exactly where we are. We played against a team that really values possessions and exposed some of our weaknesses.”

The Stars set the standard bar very high for future nights. Can they play better? Probably not. The teams in their path better hope not. Can they maintain that level? Perhaps. Shots won’t always fall at that ridiculous rate, but the disciplined path they wisely chose to get them can be.

“It’s all about working hard in practice and making sure we execute,” McBryde said. “Then we have to bring it over to the game. We cleaned some things up, made sure we were doing the little things.”

That was a veteran’s response. These Stars might be wise beyond their years, able to trump their birth certificates with talent.

“Experience will come over time,” McBryde said.

Their time might be coming.


BNL mows down Mooresville, 65-45

McBryde, Allen

combine to hit

13 of 13 shots


Box score

By Justin Sokeland


Focused and flawless, Class 4-A No.5 Bedford North Lawrence sent a message to the rest of the basketball-bouncing state Tuesday night.

It reads, according to forward Dominique McBryde, “Everybody, watch out.”

The Lady Stars (2-0) were sensational to the point of amazing friend and foe alike. They charged to a 16-0 start and never relaxed while crushing No.14 Mooresville 65-45 at BNL Fieldhouse. Brittani Rizzi and McBryde scored 16 points each and Jenna Allen added 15 as BNL ended a five-game losing streak against a nemesis with a powerful performance.

This was not a blowout of a mediocre, schedule-stuffing rag team. Mooresville (1-1) started the season with a victory over Warren Central, the defending Class 4-A state champion. This was a merciless execution, from the opening minutes to the final horn. The Pioneers never got within single digits, never threatened to make BNL sweat.

“We were prepared and had a lot of focus,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “I think our intensity level was where it should be, where it had been lacking.”

But even that doesn’t explain some of the numbers:

McBryde and Allen, both sophomores, combined to hit 13 of 13 shots. Perfect.

“Seriously?” Godlevske said when informed. Seriously.

BNL, with Sammy Dillman adding 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, hit 24 of 37 shots, a crisp 64.9 percent.

“Wow,” Mooresville coach Mark Hurt said. And there was really nothing more to add.

“I thought they beat us on both sides of the ball,” Hurt said. “They ran their offense pretty well, and defensively they did a nice job of just staying in front of us. They executed better than us.”

The opening told the story. Allen and McBryde, the focal points of the offense, worked in the paint and combined for 10 points. Dillman hit a 3-pointer that prompted a Mooresville timeout, and Rizzi buried another for the 16-0 advantage.

Mooresville’s Jessica McFarland finally ended the drought at the 2:17 mark, converting a steal into a layup. But it was too late.

“That was disappointing,” Hurt said. “They got off to a really hot start. We came up empty the first few times, and when you look up it’s 11-0. And then you look up again and it’s 16-0.”

“Whenever you start off like we did, on a big run, it sure makes things easier,” Godlevske said. “We were active and doing all the right things.”

Rizzi, supremely confident with her shooter’s mentality, got into the act in the fourth quarter by hitting all four of her shots. Her last gave the Stars their biggest lead at 61-36.

“I just focused better,” Rizzi said. “In the locker room at halftime, I was like ‘I’m going to make the next shot.’ That’s what I kept thinking.”

BNL dominated the boards (because there were few rebounds for Mooresville to claim) by a 25-11 margin.

Mooresville’s Sarah Corbin scored 13 points, all but two in the second half. The Pioneers did not throw this one away (with only 10 turnovers), they just got taken apart by a team that might not be able to play much better. If they can, McBryde’s warning isn’t strern enough.

“They have a really strong team,” Hurt said.

BNL, the defending league champion, will start its chase for the Hoosier Hills Conference title when it visits Jeffersonville on Saturday night.

Photos courtesy of Phil Knight


Lady Stars open with win over Mitchell

Bedford North Lawrence opened the 2012-13 regular season in style Saturday night, rolling to a 69-36 road victory over county rival Mitchell.

The Lady Stars (1-0) had five double-figure scorers. Sophomore center Jenna Allen dominated the paint while scoring 14 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, and outside threat Brittani Rizzi hit four 3-pointers to total her 12 points.

Kennedy Wall came off the bench to add 11, Sammy Dillman had 11 (with three treys), and Dominique McBryde had 10 for BNL, ranked No.8 in Class 4-A.

“We shot the ball really well,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “We did a nice job of pressuring the ball and played unselfish.”

After a slow start, BNL took control with a 15-0 spurt in the second quarter and rolled to a 41-17 halftime lead. McBryde had eight of her points during the first-half surge.

The Bluejackets (1-1) struggled on the offensive end, shooting 27.5 percent while committing 27 turnovers against BNL’s full-court press and half-court trap. Mia Burton was the lone bright spot with 16 points and 6 rebounds.

“Mitchell played hard, which is a credit to Coach (Matt) Sowders,” Godlevske said.

BNL will take a serious step up in competition when it faces No.20 Mooresville (1-0) in the home opener on Tuesday night. BNL has lost five straight decisions to the Pioneers. The last win was a 52-47 victory in 2006-07 that marked Godlevske’s first win with the program.

Mooresville opened with a 59-51 win over No. 6 North Central, the defending 4-A state champion, on Friday. The Pioneers won last year’s game with BNL 52-43.