INDIANAPOLIS — When her game gets cooking, there are few high school girls basketball players who are more electrifying at both ends of the floor than Bedford North Lawrence point guard Karsyn Norman, and those dual-role ingredients have landed the 5-6 star a spot on the Core Group six players with the IndyStar Indiana girls Junior All-Stars for 2022.
Norman, BNL's point guard and defensive stopper, is one of 18 players who have been selected for the IndyStar Indiana girls Junior All-Stars for 2022, All-Stars games director Mike Broughton announced Friday.
"It's so exciting," Norman exclaimed. "I almost cried when I found out. I pulled into the school parking lot this morning and Chase (Spreen, BNL assistant coach) texted me and told me the news.
"I called my mom (Jamie) and screamed, 'Mom, I made it!' I'm so happy and excited to be a Junior All-Star."
Norman is BNL's sixth player to be named an Indiana Junior All-Star since that program was initiated in 1996 by former Indiana game director Pat Aikman as she joins Jenna Allen, Dominique McBryde, Alexa Bailey (all in 2013), Jorie Allen (2018, then Miss Basketball in 2019) and Chloe McKnight (2020).
All five of those stars went on to become Indiana senior All-Stars the following seasons, and Norman hopes to join them on that list. If she's successful, she'll also join Rhonda Hillenburg (1978), Kelly Fitzgerald (1983), Carrie Mount and Amy Walker (1991) and Marla Inman (Miss Basketball in 1992) as Indiana All-Stars.
"That's been a big goal of mine since I was little," Norman said. "You grow up hearing about girls like Jenna Allen, and Dominique and Alexa, and then Jorie being All-Stars, and it becomes kind of a dream if you're a BNL player to become an Indiana All-Star.
"But it starts first with being a Junior All-Star. I'll go and do the best I can and hope for more good things next year."
Norman belongs with Core Group
The other players joining Norman on the six-player Core Group are Laila Hull of Zionsville, McKenna Layden of Northwestern, Ashlynn Shade of Noblesville and RaShunda Jones and Amiyah Reynolds of South Bend Washington.
Norman earned her rightful spot after averaging 15 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg and 3.0 spg while converting 58 3-pointers.
"When I saw who was on that Core Group, I almost couldn't believe I was on there with them," said an overly-modest Norman. "I mean, those girls are so good and I not only have such great relationships with all of them (through travel ball play), but they're great people and great, great players.
"So it's a huge honor for me to be on the Core Group with them."
In addition to the core group, six players each were voted to teams labeled Red Group and Blue Group.
The Red Group players are Asiah Baxter of Warren Central, Riley Makalusky of Hamilton Southeastern, Hailey Smith of Fishers, Saige Stahl of Columbus East, Josie Trabel of East Central and Amber Tretter of Forest Park. The Red Group will join the Core 6 for the game at BNL.
The Blue Group players are Ashlynn Brooke of Pioneer, Cristen Carter of Ben Davis, Asia Donald of Hobart, Bailey Kelham of Garrett, MaKaya Porter of Mishawaka Marian and Renne Schwieterman of Jay County. This group will join the core players against the Indiana Senior All-Stars on Wednesday, June 8 at a site to be announced.
Both games will be doubleheaders with the 2022 Indiana boys Junior All-Stars, who will be chosen later in March.
Bob Lapadot of Garrett will be the head coach of the 2022 girls Junior All-Stars. He will be assisted by Tony Hasenour of Forest Park. Lapadot guided Garrett to a 27-2 record and a Class 3A semi-state appearance this past season. He has a 179-79 record in 11 seasons with the Railroaders. Hasenour led Forest Park to a 26-3 ledger, including the Class 2A state championship. He has a 104-48 mark in six seasons with the Rangers.
Norman's defense a key
Most star players strive to become scorers, but Norman she has worked just as diligently on her defense. She has built speed, strength and endurance into that 5-6 frame, which allows her to simply dog her foes.
"I feel like today that good defense gets kind of overlooked or at least not looked at enough," Norman said. "But I take it very seriously. I feel like my points and stats are going to be there, but I do think my defense has kind of separated me a little bit."
Many of her best defensive outings came against the best competition. Norman forced Silver Creek's Kynidi Mason-Striverson to 4 of 13 shooting, and East Central's Hope Fox to six points on 3 of 8 shooting and harassing her into five turnovers (after holding Fox to 1 for 11 and two points the previous season).
Both Striverson and Fox are 2022 Indiana senior All-Stars. Norman also limited Core 6 mate Shade, a UConn commit, to nine points on 4 for 12 shooting in that BNL win.
"I'm quick and athletic, which definitely helps on defense, and I have worked hard to get in shape so I can play it at a high level," Norman said. "But with defense I think it all comes down to heart. You have to look at it as a challenge and want to take it head on against the other teams' best players.
"You have to say, 'I'm going to shut her down,' or 'I'm going to hold her under her average.' You have to accept the challenge and then go out and get it done."
The offense has also risen
Her defensive brilliance has not come at the expense of her offense. In fact, Norman has labored long and hard to develop the scintillating ballhandling skills, flashy moves and long-range shooting ability, and she utilized them to raise her scoring average by 5.5 points and more than doubled her 3-pointers.
"I kind of had to take on a new role, so it was talked about quite a bit in the preseason that I was going to need to take on more of a scoring role this year," Norman said. "I think at first I struggled with it a little bit trying to get used to that, but I sort of figured it out as the season went along."
Again, she saved her top performances against top foes. Norman scored 15 second-half points while adding nine rebounds and five assists in BNL's 54-51 comeback victory at then No.3-ranked Indianapolis North Central, and she produced 17 points and five dimes in the 19-point romp over eventual Class 4A state champion Noblesville.
Norman then erupted for a career-high 30 points while drilling seven 3-pointers in a victory over Warren Central, had 17 points and eight steals against No.8 Columbus East, and fired in 26 points with five treys in the regional-championship loss to No.2 Franklin.
"I still consider myself a pass-first player and a defender, but I think I improved a lot offensively over the course of the season," Norman allowed. "I was just doing whatever I could to try to help us win games."
Stoked to play Kentucky at BNL
The Core Group will play both games that the Indiana Junior All-Stars play, and Norman is amped up to play the Kentucky Junior All-Stars at BNL Fieldhouse on Sunday, June 5. In five years of games against the Kentucky Juniors, the Indiana Junior girls lead 9-1.
"I was super excited when I saw we were hosting that game," she said. "When I saw it I thought I might have a good chance of making it, but you're never sure. Then I found out I had, and I'm so happy I'm going to get to play in front of our fans.
"I hope I play good because I don't want to disappoint anybody, but our basketball community is so great here and I just love it. So I'm thrilled we get to play here for one of the games."
Norman is also pumped for the task of facing the Indiana Senior All-Stars.
"That's going to be a challenge because that's a great class of players," she said. "But you like to be challenged, and we'll get fired up and play them as tough as we can. We have to get them ready to play Kentucky."
The Indiana senior All-Stars will play the Kentucky senior All-Stars on Friday, June 10 at the Owensboro Sportscenter in Owensboro, Ky. The teams will meet again on Saturday, June 11 in Southport Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The senior game in Indianapolis again is set for Southport in 2022 because Gainbridge Fieldhouse will be undergoing a third phase of renovations and not be available in June.
In games from 1996 through 2021 (with no games in 2020 because of COVID-19), the Indiana Senior girls lead the Indiana Junior girls 40-10 and the Indiana Senior boys lead the Indiana Junior boys 40-10.
IndyStar Indiana Girls Junior All-Star rosters
GIRLS CORE GROUP
(playing on June 5 and June 8)
Name, Ht., Pos., PPG, High School, College Choice
Laila Hull, 6-0, F, 20.3, Zionsville, undecided
RaShunda Jones, 5-8, G, 11.6, South Bend Washington, Purdue
McKenna Layden, 6-2, F, 22.1, Northwestern, Purdue
Karsyn Norman, 5-6, G, 15.0, Bedford North Lawrence, undecided
Amiyah Reynolds, 6-0, G/F, 9.2, South Bend Washington, Maryland
Ashlynn Shade, 5-10, G, 20.9, Noblesville, Connecticut
GIRLS RED GROUP
(playing on June 5 vs. Kentucky Juniors)
Name, Ht., Pos., PPG, High School, College Choice
Asiah Baxter, 5-10, F, 15.1, Warren Central, undecided
Riley Makalusky, 6-2, F, 17.1, Hamilton Southeastern, undecided
Hailey Smith, 5-9, G, 10.4, Fishers, undecided
Saige Stahl, 6-1, F, 17.9, Columbus East, undecided
Josie Trabel, 6-0, F, 17.7, East Central, undecided
Amber Tretter, 6-1, F, 17.4, Forest Park, undecided
GIRLS BLUE GROUP
(playing on June 8 vs. Indiana Seniors)
Name, Ht., Pos., PPG, High School, College Choice
Ashlynn Brooke, 5-7, G, 25.9, Pioneer, Ball State
Cristen Carter, 6-3, C, 11.4, Ben Davis, undecided
Asia Donald, 5-9, G, 23.5, Hobart, undecided
Bailey Kelham, 5-11, G, 16.2, Garrett, undecided
MaKaya Porter, 6-0, F, 19.0, Mishawaka Marian, undecided
Renna Schwieterman, 6-0, G, 18.3, Jay County, Purdue-Fort Wayne
Head coach: Bob Lapadot, Garrett
Assistant coach: Tony Hasenour, Forest Park
2022 IndyStar Indiana All-Star key dates
Sunday, June 5 — Indiana Juniors vs. Kentucky Juniors at Bedford North Lawrence High School (595 Stars Blvd., Bedford, IN 47421) — girls, 2:00 p.m.; boys, to follow; admission, $8 at the door for adults and school-aged students (pre-school children are free).
Wednesday, June 8 — Junior-Senior All-Star game at Site TBA — girls, 6:00 p.m.; boys, to follow; admission, TBA.
Friday, June 10 — Indiana at Owensboro Sportscenter (1215 Hickman Ave., Owensboro, KY 42301) — girls, TBA p.m.; boys, to follow. Ticket information TBA.
Saturday, June 11 — Indiana vs. Kentucky at Southport Fieldhouse (971 E. Banta Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46227) — girls, 5:00 p.m.; boys, to follow. Ticket information, TBA.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Karsyn Norman earns Core 6 selection on Indiana Junior All-Stars