BNL seeks to end 2-game
skid when it makes tough
trip to 4-A No.10 Zionsville
By Justin Sokeland
Hired guns of the Old West lived, or died, off their accuracy. Movies and television hype the gunslinger’s quick draw, but fast was not always best. Nerves of steel and deadly aim got the job done better than wildly firing off stray bullets that missed the target.
Bedford North Lawrence proved that fact, in basketball terms, during its last two games. Launching bombs without a guidance system does not produce more damage or points. You have to hit something. The Stars didn’t even shoot themselves in the foot.
After back-to-back losses, BNL (4-2) will look for answers as it prepares for another difficult assignment. The Stars will visit Class 4-A No.10 Zionsville (5-1) on Saturday for an afternoon matinee that won’t be cheap.
BNL’s recent stumbles can be traced to a season-long problem: shooting. The Stars, promising a free-flowing offense to capitalize on additional firepower, are connecting on 39 percent of their shots – only 27 percent from 3-point range. Take away the torrid night at Mitchell, and those numbers drop to an alarming level.
BNL coach Jeff Allen is not ready to scrap this design. But he is ready to tinker. He’s going to go with the hot hand, no matter who that is or how deep on the bench he has to search. Production trumps reputation and potential. At some point, the ball has to go in the basket.
Zionsville will demand that. The Eagles rank fifth in the state in scoring at 76.2 points per game. BNL better have the scopes adjusted and calibrated.
“It’s on us to execute and hit shots,” Allen said. “Going back and watching the film, we really need to work on our execution and clean up some things. Some of the shots we’re taking aren’t high-percentage shots, and we can get better ones with better execution.”
Some of the credit has to go to the defenses BNL faced in the last two outings. No.4 North Central’s press wore down the Stars mentally and physically, and there was a hangover effect the next night at Jeffersonville. The Red Devils, a tough conference opponent, also had BNL scouted perfectly.
“You have to put it in perspective, of who we played,” Allen said. “I think that was tough for a lot of teams to pull off.”
Conquering Zionsville will be equally tough.
The Eagles returned their top four scorers from last year’s sectional championship, and they got a huge injection of additional talent when senior Rachel McLimore, an Indiana Junior All-Star who averaged 21.3 points and 3.1 assists while powering Covenant Christian to the Class 2-A state final last season, transferred into the program.
McLimore is averaging 22.0 points and 4.4 steals while sophomore Maddie Nolan (an AAU summer teammate of BNL’s Jorie Allen) adds 19.5 points and 2.4 assists.
“Rachel and Maddie are a lot of fun to coach,” Zionsville coach Andy Maguire said. “They understand the game extremely well. Both are capable of scoring off of the dribble as well as being good catch-and-shoot shooters. Overall, they are solid, all-around basketball players who contribute in many different ways.”
Allen leads BNL in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (10.5). The question is where the support will come from in a given moment. Kennedy Bunch is averaging 8.7, McKenzie Messmore is adding 7.0, and Jacy Hughes is contributing 6.2. One of them, or reserve Allie Fugate (5.8), needs to catch fire consistently.
“Obviously Jorie is an outstanding player,” Maquire said. “Not many players in the state of Indiana will average a double-double. Bedford has a nice supporting cast and are all capable of scoring.
“This is a good match-up for our team at this point in the season. It will be a real challenge and should give us an indication of where we are and what we need to do.”
BNL at ZIONSVILLE
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Records: BNL 4-2; Zionsville 5-1, ranked No.10 in Class 4-A
Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the teams.
Sagarin ratings: BNL 89.73; Zionsville 97.50
Game note: Zionsville won its first sectional title in 20 years last season. Zionsville coach Andy Maguire needs three more wins to reach 200 for his 19-year career. The Eagles rank fifth in the state in scoring at 76.2 points per game.
BNL starting lineup
F – Allie Crulo-Rood 5-7 Jr.
F – Jorie Allen 6-1 So.
F – Kennedy Bunch 5-8 Sr.
G – McKenzie Messmore 5-6 Jr.
G – Jacy Hughes 5-5 So.
Zionsville starting lineup
F – Katie Isenbarger 5-11 Jr.
F – Delaney Richason 6-0 So.
G – Rachel McLimore 5-10 Sr.
G – Erin Patterson 5-10 Jr.
G – Maddie Nolan 5-9 So.