By KEVIN HARRIS
NORTH VERNON — It is a daunting task in trying to knock off a juggernaut.
Just ask the Jeffersonville girls’ basketball team.
The Red Devils matched their season-low in scoring to lose to Class 4A No. 2 and defending 4A state champion Bedford North Lawrence, 70-36 in the Class 4A Jennings County Sectional championship game on Saturday night at Hurley Gymnasium. The first time Jeff recorded its season-low point total was in its 68-36 regular-season setback to the Stars (23-1) on Nov. 23 at BNL Fieldhouse.
The Stars won their third consecutive sectional title. They will face Castle (12-8) in the second semifinal of the Class 4A Columbus North Regional next Saturday.
“We played well. We talked all year about trying to get ready for this opportunity, and I thought we came over here and played three very high-level games, which is obviously what we’ve got to do at this time of year,” said Bedford coach Damon Bailey, the 1990 Indiana Mr. Basketball from BNL and former Indiana University standout. “Overall, I’m very happy with the kids. The last four or five basketball games I think we’ve played very well. Obviously, we’ll need to have that same type of effort and execution to win next weekend.”
The Red Devils (17-6) shot just 12-of-44 from the field (27.3 percent) and made only five two-point field goals.
On defense, first-year Jeff coach Mike Warren and his coaching staff had an important decision to make entering Saturday’s sectional final. It was to either double-team 6-foot-3 center Jenna Allen and give the Stars perimeter shots, or to focus on Bedford’s guards and not put at least two people on the junior.
Warren and his assistants chose the former, but still could not stifle the Stars.
The Devils held Allen to seven points as Jeff senior guard Aurreeshae Hines dropped into the post to help Red Devil senior center Haley Vogen guard the IU recruit.
Jeff had no answer for 6-2 Bedford forward Dominique McBryde.
The Stars’ junior scored a game-high 16 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. McBryde’s point total highlighted her solid floor game. She also had a game-high five assists, five rebounds, a game-high four blocked shots and a team-high three steals.
McBryde scored 12 points in the opening quarter against Jeff’s man-to-man defense. Her production helped Bedford lead 23-9 after the first period.
“You’ve got to pick your poison. They’re that good for a reason and we felt that was our best [defense],” Warren said. “At times, we executed and did what we wanted to do. But at other times, we didn’t do a good job. There is only so much you can do.”
Stars’ junior guard Alexa Bailey — daughter of Damon Bailey — chipped in 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Bedford senior guard Brittani Rizzi had nine points, while teammate Sammy Dillman had eight points and three steals. Allen led the Stars in rebounding with eight rebounds along with blocking three shots. She also scored her 1,000th career point with a bucket in the third quarter.
“As long as we win, I don’t care who scores,” Damon Bailey said. “We made shots, and when we make shots, we’re hard to beat.”
Hines led the Red Devils with 13 points, making 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Jeff sophomore guard Taylor Sykes had 11 points, Vogen pulled down a game-high nine rebounds and Red Devil junior guard Chelsea Lewis recorded a team-high four assists.
“Mike has done an excellent job with that group of kids. They came out and competed,” Coach Bailey said.
Jeff said goodbye to five seniors in Hines, Vogen, Makenzi Johnson, Chelsie Marshall and Mallory O’Brien. The seniors played for four coaches in their four seasons.
“They led us to here. Nobody ever thought we would be 17-6,” Warren said. “We hate to lose, but there is no sense of walking out of that locker room with their heads down because they accomplished way more than anybody thought they would. I’m proud of them. We have a lot to look forward to in the future.”
The Red Devils ended archrival New Albany’s season on Saturday morning with a 46-38 semifinal win. It was Jeff’s second victory over the Bulldogs this year, as it increased its lead in the all-time series to 41-32.
Warren got his players’ attention when he called a 30-second timeout at the 2:23 mark of the first quarter following a layup by New Albany junior Brianne Nixon to cut the Red Devils’ lead to 8-6.
“We did a good job of warming up. I thought we were ready,” Warren said. “But in the sectional, you can’t really wait around and hope things happen. I wanted to make sure that everybody was clear on what we were doing, and they were. Once we burned that timeout, we really started executing and did a good job.”
After the timeout, Jeff went on a 16-2 run to go up 24-8 at halftime. Sophomore Aaliyah Bell scored the first six points of the second half to pull the Bulldogs (8-13) within 10 points at 24-14, but Jeff responded with a 9-0 spurt to take its largest lead of the game at 33-14 with 2:34 left in the third.
New Albany, though, did not give up.
Trailing 36-21 at the start of the fourth, the Bulldogs chipped their deficit down to 39-33 with 2:07 left in regulation when junior Lauren Camm nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner.
With Jeff still up six at 41-35 with 48.6 seconds remaining, Bell hit 1-of-2 free throws to get New Albany within five.
“[In the first half] I thought we were just tight and we weren’t executing offensively. I felt like we let them have too many offensive rebounds in the first half, and we didn’t handle their pressure very well,” Bulldogs’ coach Tammy Geron said. “In the second half, I thought we were a lot more settled and we were looking past the defender a little bit more and executing better on the floor.
“I’m proud that our kids came back and competed and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Hines sealed the victory in the closing seconds by converting 5-of-6 free throws. She wound up with a game-high 21 points as she was 13-of-16 from the line. In the second half, Hines made 12-of-14 foul shots.
“She’s a senior and I expect that from her. If she didn’t do that, I’d be disappointed,” Warren said about Hines’ late free throws. “She’s done some really good things for us all year and has had some good games. That’s kind of what we expect from our seniors. In the second half, she really carried us.”
No other Red Devil scored in double digits. Vogen had eight points and a team-high six rebounds. Lewis registered seven points and a game-high four steals.
Bell led New Albany with 11 points, scoring nine in the second half. Bulldogs’ guard Brittany Knight tallied nine points, and Camm grabbed a game-high 10 boards and scored seven points.
Knight is New Albany’s lone senior. But with several players expected back, New Albany has the potential to be a solid team next season.
“We talked about the word ‘potential’ and that means everything you’re not, but everything you can be,” Geron said. “After the game, I told them that if you’re ready to reach your potential, the offseason is going to have to be a battle and something you’re going to have to work at. I think there are a lot of talented young ladies on our team. Now, we have to put their athletic ability in with some basketball skill and knowledge, and hopefully next year we can be more competitive.”
Bedford defeated Jennings County in Saturday’s second semifinal, 92-61.
CLASS 4A JENNINGS COUNTY SECTIONAL
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE 70, JEFFERSONVILLE 36
Jeffersonville 9 6 6 15—36
Bedford NL 23 14 17 16—70
Jeffersonville (17-6): Aurreeshae Hines 4-9 1-2 13, Taylor Sykes 4-16 1-2 11, Hailey Lacy 1-2 0-0 3, Catera Stevenson 1-4 1-1 3, Haley Vogen 1-4 1-2 3, Jada Haleem 1-2 0-0 2, Nycia Ford 0-0 1-2 1, Emily Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Makenzi Johnson 0-5 0-0 0, Chelsea Lewis 0-2 0-0 0, Chelsie Marshall 0-0 0-0 0, Danielle Overton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 5-9 36.
Bedford North Lawrence (23-1): Dominique McBryde 5-7 6-7 16, Alexa Bailey 5-9 2-5 13, Brittani Rizzi 3-4 0-0 9, Sammy Dillman 3-3 0-0 8, Jenna Allen 3-6 1-2 7, Lauren Boshears 2-2 0-0 5, Erin Bradley 2-4 0-0 4, Whitney Wilson 1-1 1-2 4, Kaitlyn Poole 1-1 0-0 2, Kennedy Wall 0-1 2-2 2, Loren Bailey 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Riley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-38 12-18 70.
3-point field goals: Jeffersonville 7-16 (Hines 4-7, Sykes 2-5, Lacy 1-1, Stevenson 0-1, Johnson 0-2); Bedford North Lawrence 8-13 (Rizzi 3-4, Dillman 2-2, Boshears 1-1, Wilson 1-1, A. Bailey 1-3, McBryde 0-1, Wall 0-1).
Rebounds: Jeffersonville 25 (Vogen 9); Bedford North Lawrence 25 (Allen 8).
Assists: Jeffersonville 6 (Lewis 4); Bedford North Lawrence 9 (McBryde 5).
Steals: Jeffersonville 4 (Haleem, Hines, Stevenson, Vogen 1); Bedford North Lawrence 6 (Dillman, McBryde 3).
Blocked shots: Jeffersonville 1 (Marshall 1); Bedford North Lawrence 7 (McBryde 4).
Turnovers: Jeffersonville 12, Bedford North Lawrence 8.
Total fouls: Jeffersonville 13, Bedford North Lawrence 12.
Fouled out: None.
Technical fouls: None.
JEFFERSONVILLE 46, NEW ALBANY 38
Jeffersonville 16 8 12 10—46
New Albany 6 2 13 17—38
Jeffersonville (17-5): Aurreeshae Hines 4-6 13-16 21, Haley Vogen 3-7 2-3 8, Chelsea Lewis 3-8 1-3 7, Makenzi Johnson 1-3 0-0 3, Taylor Sykes 0-4 3-4 3, Nycia Ford 0-0 2-6 2, Emily Gray 1-1 0-0 2, Hailey Lacy 0-2 0-0 0, Chelsie Marshall 0-0 0-0 0, Danielle Overton 0-0 0-0 0, Catera Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-31 21-32 46.
New Albany (8-13): Aaliyah Bell 4-8 3-4 11, Brittany Knight 1-4 6-8 9, Lauren Camm 2-5 2-2 7, Brianne Nixon 2-3 0-0 4, Jenna Shine 2-4 0-0 4, Jessica Knight 1-4 0-0 3, Claire Hirsch 0-0 0-0 0, Marissa Jones 0-2 0-2 0, Ashley Lyninger 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-31 11-16 38.
3-point field goals: Jeffersonville 1-5 (Johnson 1-3, Lacy 0-1, Sykes 0-1); New Albany 3-10 (Camm 1-2, B. Knight 1-2, J. Knight 1-2, Bell 0-1, Jones 0-1, Shine 0-2).
Rebounds: Jeffersonville 27 (Vogen 6); New Albany 19 (Camm 10).
Assists: Jeffersonville 5 (Hines 4); New Albany 4 (Camm 2).
Steals: Jeffersonville 9 (Lewis 4); New Albany 5 (Nixon 2).
Blocked shots: Jeffersonville 0; New Albany 1 (Camm 1).
Turnovers: Jeffersonville 14, New Albany 17.
Total fouls: Jeffersonville 17, New Albany 21.
Fouled out: New Albany – J. Knight.
Technical fouls: None.