Great game plan, good start, tough conclusion. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go to waste, and Bedford North Lawrence’s superior experience and power was too much for the Red Devils in the sectional final at Johnson Arena on Saturday night.
Dominique McBryde, a Purdue signee and Miss Basketball candidate, scored 22 points to propel the top-ranked Stars (25-0) to a 48-35 win over Jeffersonville. BNL won its fourth straight sectional title and advanced to face Center Grove (a 58-33 winner over New Palestine in the sectional at Greenwood) in the regional at BNL.
The Red Devils slowed, stymied and frustrated the Stars as much as possible. BNL settled for early perimeter jumpers over Jeffersonville’s sagging zone and went 1-for-7 from that range in the first quarter, which played perfectly into Jeffersonville’s scheme.
The Devils, content to kill clock and probe patiently, owned an 8-5 lead after eight minutes, the same scenario that played out during BNL’s 35-24 win at Jeff during the regular season.
Then talent took over. McBryde got loose, scoring three times, and Erin Bradley added a trey and a short-range basket, pushing the Stars in front 24-17 late in the second. Freshman McKenzie Messmore came off the bench to hit two jumpers, and BNL scored seven straight points for 36-23 command in the third.
That meant doom for the Devils.
“I was happy with our effort, with our intensity, I was happy we played as aggressors,” Jeffersonville coach Mike Warren said. “Sometimes you have to sit back and realize they’re just good, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. We did everything right. It just came to a point where they were too much. Hats off to them.”
BNL decked the Devils with an 8-0 burst in the fourth, and McBryde was that catalyst, finishing the run with a three-point play for a 44-28 lead.
“I wanted her to beat us from the perimeter, but she didn’t beat us from the perimeter,” Warren said. “She just has a way of slithering in there and getting to the basket.”
Catera Stevenson had 10 points for the Devils, who went silent during BNL’s defining surge. Jeffersonville went 13 minutes and scored only 11 points as the Stars smashed to the front. And stayed there.
Jeffersonville did outrebound BNL — which usually dominates the opposition in that area by 10 per game — by a 31-23 margin and had 14 offensive rebounds. The Devils just couldn’t convert the second-chance opportunities.
“We can rebound, too,” Warren said. “At times teams get back because they’re scared of getting beat in transition. We said just be tough and stick your nose in there, give it a shot.”
BNL took Jeffersonville’s best and shrugged it off, winning its 17th straight tournament game and claiming the 24th sectional title in program history.
“It was a tough one,” BNL coach Jeff Allen said. “We had some kids get rattled when we didn’t make shots. But that’s part of it. It’s the state tournament. There will be periods in this tournament when our character will be tested because thing don’t go right. That’s the way it was in the first half.
“We played well enough to get it done. That’s all I care about, that we get to play next weekend. Anybody that tells you a sectional championship will be easy is mistaken.”
Jenna Allen had 7 points and 8 rebounds and Alexa Bailey totaled 7 points for the Stars. Taylor Sykes and Jhala Henry totaled 8 each for the Devils.
Bedford North Lawrence (25-0) – Dominique McBryde 22, Jenna Allen 7, Alexa Bailey 7, Erin Bradley 5, Kennedy Bunch 3, McKenzie Messmore 4.
Jeffersonville (15-11) – Hailey Lacy 7, Catera Stevenson 10, Taylor Sykes 8, Jhala Henry 8, Emily Gray 2.
3-point goals – A. Bailey 1, Bradley 1, Bunch 1, Stevenson 2, Henry 2.