Lawrence North girls basketball coach Chris Giffin learned his craft from one of the masters. He served as a student manager at Indiana University for Bob Knight, then worked as a graduate assistant for Knight at Texas Tech. Oh, the stories he could tell.
He’s a Knight man when it comes to preparation, practice and the principles of motion offense. When Lawrence North met Bedford North Lawrence during the regular season, he presented first-year BNL coach Damon Bailey a DVD of motion-offense highlights that included many moments from Bailey’s IU career.
Their teams will not be exchanging gifts or pleasantries Saturday.
The No. 1 Wildcats (25-1) and No. 2 Stars (25-1) will clash in the Class 4-A semistate at BNL. The victor will advance to the state championship in Terre Haute, to face either No. 4 Penn (24-1) or No. 11 Logansport (24-2) at Hulman Center on March 8.
History will repeat in some form. Last year, No. 1 Columbus North fell in the regional at BNL Fieldhouse, the victory that propelled the Stars to the state championship. This season, BNL met its match at Lawrence North, setting up this winner-take-all rematch.
Lawrence North senior guard Ana Owens, a University of Cincinnati recruit and possible Miss Basketball, scored 21 points as the Wildcats ended BNL’s bid for a second straight undefeated campaign with a 59-49 victory Jan. 10. BNL’s motive is simple revenge.
“They took something,” Bailey said. “We threw out there what our goals were. We wanted to be undefeated and win a state championship, and they took one of those goals from us.”
“We’ve wanted this rematch ever since that loss,” BNL senior guard Brittani Rizzi said. “We hoped they made it to semistate. We’ve been ready for this.”
The Indiana High School Athletic Association designated the rematch take place on BNL turf. The Stars have made back-to-back regular season trips to Lawrence North, and now the Wildcats must finally journey into enemy territory. Their motive is simple confirmation. BNL is the defending champion, but Lawrence North is No. 1 now.
“The state goes through Bedford, in Bedford,” Giffin said. “We have goals like they do. So the key for us is to realize, to obtain that ultimate goal, we have to find a way to play well, win a ballgame on their home floor. That’s the way it has to be done.”
Lawrence North features a quick-strike, press-and-torment style. Owens is a lightning-fast guard who spearheads the assault, averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 steals. Junior forward Lamina Cooper, destined for Purdue, is the team leader in scoring (15.8) and rebounds (7.2), and Loyola of Chicago recruit Destiny Washington (9.8 points) anchors the front line. It’s obvious why Lawrence North is fourth in the state in scoring (73.0) and second in winning margin (32.7). That kind of talent is hard to contain.
BNL is stocked with Division I talent as well, with Purdue recruit Dominique McBryde (15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds), Indiana recruit Jenna Allen (15.1, 8.6) and Butler-bound Alexa Bailey (7.6 as the defensive stopper). The Stars have won their five tournament games by an average of 25.2 points. On the other end, BNL opponents are shooting only 29.7 percent.
Lawrence North wants to blitz. The Wildcats force 23.9 turnovers per game, and the Stars had 10 in the fourth quarter of the first contest. Jordan Hankins was the secret weapon that night, hitting four straight second-quarter shots and totaling 16 points.
BNL wants the battle to be hand-to-hand inside. Allen, a 6-foot-3 post power, had 26 points (including 18 in the second half) and 12 rebounds. But Lawrence North dominated the backcourt (outscoring BNL’s 45-9) and didn’t allow the Stars to score for the last three minutes.
“We don’t think we put our best effort forward,” Bailey said. “The kids are looking forward to another opportunity.”
BNL will also host the 3-A semistate between No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei (25-1) and No. 14 Chatard (21-5). Mater Dei features IU recruit and Miss Basketball candidate Maura Muensterman, who averages 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists. Muensterman recently broke the state record for career assists.
The 3-A game will start at 4 p.m., followed by the 4-A game. BNL is anticipating a sellout of its 5,600-seat gym.
LAWRENCE NORTH at BNL
: Saturday, approximately 6:15 p.m.When
: BNL 25-1, ranked No. 2 in Class 4-A; Lawrence North 25-1, ranked No. 1 in Class 4-ARecords
: Lawrence North handed BNL its only loss, 59-49, at Lawrence North on Jan. 10 as Ana Owens scored 21 points and Jordan Hankins added 16. Jenna Allen totaled 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Stars, while Dominique McBryde had 14 points.Last meeting
: Lawrence North suffered its only loss (to Pike) the day after the victory over BNL. The Stars are No. 1 in the Sagarin computer power ratings (110.19) while the Wildcats are No. 2 (109.05). John Harrell’s Indiana Girls Basketball website is predicting a 54-53 BNL triumph.Game notes