Spreen unloads burden going into BodyArmor Showcase at Jeffersonville

·8 min read

BEDFORD — It's little wonder that Chloe Spreen felt light enough to leap into the arms of her mother, Tangy, in exultation Wednesday night.

The shriek- and smile-filled mother/daughter celebration followed the fifth-ranked Bedford North Lawrence girls basketball team's 59-40 dismantling of No.3 Noblesville in the championship game of the 2021 Limestone Classic Holiday Tourney.

It has filled the Lady Stars (14-1) with a full head of steam heading into Wednesday night's BodyArmor Showcase at Jeffersonville (6 p.m.), though that appearance is now in limbo after Louisville Male, BNL's scheduled opponent, was placed in Covid quarantine.

Columbus North's scheduled foe, Louisville Butler, also had to go into quarantine, so now the Lady Stars and BullDogs will play each other at 3 p.m.

BNL's Chloe Spreen (left), Carlee Kern (middle) and Ella Turner (right) celebrate a fast-break basket by Kern during Wednesday night's 59-40 victory over Noblesville in the title game of the Limestone Classic Tourney.
BNL's Chloe Spreen (left), Carlee Kern (middle) and Ella Turner (right) celebrate a fast-break basket by Kern during Wednesday night's 59-40 victory over Noblesville in the title game of the Limestone Classic Tourney.

It had to feel like a boulder had been hoisted from Spreen's shoulders after she showed the state of Indiana her true basketball self when the glare of the lights were brightest. She played with an unfettered freedom while whirling, dashing, slicing and shooting her way to 28 points on 7 for 12 firing from the field, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

More: Bedford North Lawrence's Spreen is Times-Mail girls basketball Player of the Week

The performance, and victory, brought sweet relief to a young lady — very young — who had been carrying an inordinate level of pressure because of her well-earned reputation and accolades.

Some of that has been self-imposed, and some of it imposed by those of us who forget she is a 16-year old sophomore who has had her driver's license for about a week.

BNL sophomore Chloe Spreen goes up inside against Brownsburg's Paige Kirtz. Spreen had 10 rebounds and three assists in a 44-32 win.
BNL sophomore Chloe Spreen goes up inside against Brownsburg's Paige Kirtz. Spreen had 10 rebounds and three assists in a 44-32 win.

In any case, she unloaded that burden Wednesday night and it brought sweet relief for a kid who so wanted to please fans and help her team win that it manifested into a struggle she'd never before experienced on a basketball floor.

"It definitely felt good to kind of play like my old self," said a beaming Spreen. "The morning game (a 47-40 win over No.14 East Central in which she scored 15 points, grabbed six boards, dished three assists, blocked two shots and battled hard defensively on EC star Josie Trabel) got me going, really.

"I've had a struggle lately getting shots to fall and I think I started thinking about it too much. So I tried to just go out and play, and I had a couple of drives where it felt good and it gave me a lift.

"I knew I could play better, and I tried to just go play and help my team win a big game against a great team."

More: Lean Spreen cuts loose, ready for Mitchell duel

Indeed, even the best can have a crisis of confidence once in awhile. It's why you see a Rod Carew, Albert Pujols or Wade Boggs occasionally have a 1-for-10 stretch on the baseball field. Spreen had seemed to crawl up inside her own head for a few games and couldn't claw her way out.

Coming into the Noblesville game, she was 1 for her last 22 from the arc, and had suffered some uncharacteristic shooting nights like 4-for-18 against Brownsburg and 5-for-17 against Mater Dei.

But, even while going 1-for-5 and scoring just six points in a huge win over Class 3A No.2 Silver Creek, Spreen had gotten back to smiling and cheering and encouraging her teammates.

Those who know her ability best, like long-time travel-ball and BNL teammate Karsyn Norman, know that Wednesday was an example of the real Spreen.

BNL's Karsyn Norman (left) and Chloe Spreen (2) double team Fremd's Anna Schmitt in the Sneakers for Santa Shootout in Brownsburg.
BNL's Karsyn Norman (left) and Chloe Spreen (2) double team Fremd's Anna Schmitt in the Sneakers for Santa Shootout in Brownsburg.

"Chloe played so great," said Norman, who was also instrumental in BNL claiming the trophy with 31 points and nine assists in the two wins. "I think she needed that, the team needed that, and I think people needed to see that.

"That's who she is. You saw what kind of player she is in that game."

Spreen, Lady Stars up to challenge

In a season filled with formidable foes, the Lady Stars were facing their sternest test yet in the Millers, who had just destroyed defending Class 4A state champion and top-ranked Crown Point, 57-32, in the afternoon semifinal.

More: Bedford North Lawrence denies Noblesville in title tilt of Limestone Classic

Noblesville was brimming with confidence and about to send junior guard Ashlynn Shade, who has offers from virtually every big-time NCAA Division I program, including Connecticut, at the Lady Stars.

BNL sophomore Chloe Spreen blows past Bloomington North's Mallory Barrow for a layup.
BNL sophomore Chloe Spreen blows past Bloomington North's Mallory Barrow for a layup.

Spreen (chock full of offers herself) rose to meet the moment as she dazzled with spin moves, fadeaway jumpers, and picture-perfect form on 3-pointers. She also added seven rebounds and blocked two shots to go with her 28 points, just two off her career-high.

The 5-9 sophomore guard had shown out against the best competition during the toughest in-season holiday tournament in the state, the Hall of Fame Classic notwithstanding.

Yet, Spreen knew she was far from getting it done alone, and she reveled more in the team success than her own.

"I think what also got me going tonight was our fans and the atmosphere in here," she noted of a raucous BNL Fieldhouse. "Our high school is great, and it makes it even better and more exciting to to play like this and win a big game when your fans are into it and so loud and supportive.

"It was a big game for us, and it was a lot of fun. I couldn't be more proud of our team."

Norman's defense another catalyst

As is usually the case with the Lady Stars, the contributions to victory came from many sources. Senior Carlee Kern filed six points and supplied excellent help defense inside, junior forward Mallory Pride pulled down 11 rebounds and sophomore guard Madisyn Bailey grabbed 10 to lead 34-20 domination of the boards.

BNL junior Karsyn Norman rifles in a 3-pointerat Seymour. Norman had 16 points and 7 steals in a dominating HHC win.
BNL junior Karsyn Norman rifles in a 3-pointerat Seymour. Norman had 16 points and 7 steals in a dominating HHC win.

Norman, BNL's stellar point guard, put it over the top, however, with 17 points, three 3-pointers, five assists and lock-down defense on Shade. The superstar came to BNL Fieldhouse leading the Hoosier Crossroads Conference in scoring at 20.7 ppg and fired in 22 against Crown Point.

Then she met Norman.

Through three quarters, when the game was decided with BNL building a 48-25 advantage going into the fourth, Shade had three points on 1 for 9 shooting. She got three garbage baskets to finish with nine points.

Bedford North Lawrence's Karsyn Norman (21) steals the ball from Bloomington South's Carlie Pederson (3).
Bedford North Lawrence's Karsyn Norman (21) steals the ball from Bloomington South's Carlie Pederson (3).

"Karsyn really helped us win that game," Spreen said. "She helped me get going with some great passes to me, and her defense on Shade was amazing. I told her that her defense would be huge, but she also got her own offense going. She had a great game."

More: Norman taking on new role for BNL girls basketball

Norman stands a mere 5-6, but she is strong, athletic and fast, and a fiercely determined defender. She also limited East Central's Hope Fox (15.7 ppg) to six points in the morning game, so for the day she held her two targets to a combined 21 points below their season scoring average.

"That felt good," she acknowledged. "To being able to slow down a player like Shade, I mean she has an offer from UConn, so that feels great to basically hold her to three points.

"My whole thing coming into it was to just try to keep her in front of me when she had the ball, and when she gave it up I wanted to do all I could to not let her get it back. But I didn't do it alone.

"My teammates always play great help defense and they did again tonight. And the atmosphere in here was just electric, so we fed off that and our energy tonight was incredible.

BNL junior point guard Karsyn Norman whips a pass inside for a score during a 44-32 victory over Brownsburg at BNL Fieldhouse.
BNL junior point guard Karsyn Norman whips a pass inside for a score during a 44-32 victory over Brownsburg at BNL Fieldhouse.

"It's really a huge win. Noblesville beat Crown Point by 25, and then we get them by 19, so I think it shows we can compete with anybody and gives us a lot of confidence. We're really connected right now as a team."

Spreen concurred that the Lady Stars stamped themselves as true state contenders.

"This is huge for us," she said. "It shows what we can do when we're all clicking and playing together. This was a big game for us to see where we are among the best teams, and I think we proved we belong."

Noblesville coach Donna Buckley could not disagree.

"BNL played great," she said. "All their kids played well, but they have two superstars there, and they both played like superstars against us."

Louisville Male, Butler out of event

Two Louisville teams, Male and Butler, have both been placed in quarantine and forced to withdraw, so the event has been whittled to four games. BNL will now face one of its biggest tournament rivals of recent years, Columbus North, at 3 p.m.

Here is the new schedule for the showcase: Game 1-noon - Henry County, Ky. vs. Lanesville; Game 2-1:30 p.m.- Jeffersonville vs. Warren Central; Game 3-3:00- BNL vs. Columbus North; Game 4-4:30- Henry Clay, Ky. vs. Holy Cross, Ky.

Contact Times-Mail Sports Writer Jeff Bartlett at jeffb@tmnews.com, or on Twitter @jeffbtmnews.

This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford North Lawrence girls face Columbus North Wednesday

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