By James Howell
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
INDIANAPOLIS – A clash of girls’ basketball titans was expected on Friday night when the top-ranked Bedford North Lawrence Stars traveled two hours north to battle undefeated No. 2 Lawrence North. What onlookers received was a clash of world-beaters.
The defending Class 4A state champion Stars (13-1) and Lawrence North Wildcats (14-0), which are both nationally ranked in various polls, featured a combined eight college commits. Seven of those players are going Division-I.
Matching each other basket for basket in the early stages of the game, the Wildcats were able to grab the upper hand right before halftime. Using an 8-0 run, Lawrence North led 26-21 by the break and used their advantage to fend off the Stars. With numerous free throws ending the game, the Lady Wildcats won 69-59.
Leading the way for the Wildcats was Cincinnati commit Ana Owens with 21 points, three assists and three rebounds. Along with Owens, junior Jordan Hankins added 21 points, five rebounds and a single assist. Hankins, who is currently undecided, missed only three shots the entire game.
“One of the coaches told me to not to worry about missing,” Hankins said. “All I need is one shot to go in. Once I hit one shot, I kept hitting.”
The Wildcats strong shooting helped counteract the size of the Stars. Bedford starting center Jenna Allen, an Indiana University commit, scored 26 points and brought down 11 rebounds to keep the Stars alive.
When asked what his team did to stop Allen, Lawrence North second-year head coach Chris Giffin was very candid.
“We didn’t stop it,” Giffin said. “We took away the other pieces. We did not have an answer for her, but we did make it difficult at times. We certainly limited her offensive rebounds, I think, but she is a great talent and is going to IU for a reason.”
The Stars, who are currently coached by Indiana high school basketball legend Damon Bailey, entered the game riding a 43 game winning streak.
Many experts marked this game as a state championship preview. The statement itself made Giffin react.
“I don’t know about that,” Giffin said. “We’ve got a lot of games; conference and a tough sectional and regional to get there.”
Hankins said the feeling of winning this game is near indescribable.
“We tried not to celebrate too early,” Hankins said. “We didn’t want to start celebrating with like 50 seconds left. Once it got down to the end we knew. Now we’re on top. Now we’re No. 1. It’s a great feeling.”
The game was the first sellout of the season for the Wildcats. Hankins said a lot of the game was spent ignoring all of the people.
“I tried to focus,” Hankins said. “This is one of the biggest crowds we have had. I just try to tune out all of the sounds. Booing from one side and cheering on the other.”