MARTINSVILLE — Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's girls basketball matchup between Martinsville and Class 4A's No.4 Bedford North Lawrence, the Artesians' outstanding pep band broke into a strong rendition of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."
It was a well-timed tune.
BNL had already smoked the water right out of the Artesians en route to a 66-33 victory. The Lady Stars looked very much like a team tuning in for a big postseason tournament run, while Martinsville put the wraps on a rough end to the regular season in which it had to face the No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams in the state two days apart.
The Lady Stars shot 63 percent (27 for 43) from the field, committed seven turnovers and claimed 33-19 command of the boards while forcing the Artesians into 21 miscues and 33 percent (12 of 36) shooting.
"I thought we played pretty well tonight," said BNL head coach Jeff Allen. "Our defense was really solid, we rebounded the ball well, and we made good decisions and used good shot selection on offense. Those are really important things for us to have in the tournament, and we really tried to focus on that tonight. The girls did a great job.
"He (Martinsville head coach Dave Dorsett) is outgunned right now. He had some issues with a couple of kids transferring right before the season started and that's tough on any coach. He's doing his best, and his kids play hard. They haven't quit on him."
Dorsett marveled at how hard and well BNL executed its game plan.
"Wow, that is a very good team, just a great team," he said. "I have a great deal of respect for coach Allen and his program. And their kids are so humble.
"I'm so impressed with Spreen (Chloe, who scored a game-high 22 points and snared six steals) and Norman (Karsyn, who had 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals), and they have six really good players. But they're humble and just play the game.
"My kids play hard and try to execute. We had the situation with the transfers, but it is what it is."
BNL nets much-needed hot start
The occasion virtually beckoned Bedford North Lawrence to get off to a better start, which Allen was pleading for after a recent spate of misfirings in the opening quarter.
Secondly, Martinsville laid back in a passive 2-3 zone defense that offered a lot of openings. BNL responded by blistering the John Wooden Gymnasium nets in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Martinsville was severely outmanned and the Lady Stars got hot. BNL went 8 for 16 from the floor in the opening period, with junior guard Karsyn Norman nailing two triples and eight points while pulling in five rebounds to guide a 19-8 getaway.
BNL forced the Artesians into eight turnovers with their man-to-man pressure, though senior Kearsten Willen snuck out for a pair deep 3-pointers.
The Lady Stars cranked up the heat even higher in the second stanza, going 9 for 16 from the floor. Sophomore guard Madisyn Bailey buried her second and third treys of the game, Norman tacked on five points, and Spreen connected for two baskets as BNL built a mountain of a halftime lead at 40-17. Willen zeroed in on another triple and finished the half with 11 points for the Artesians.
"I think the difference tonight was what we've been talking about and that is better decision-making and shot selection at the start of games," Allen said. "We are really wanting better starts, and the key to it tonight was decision-making and shot selection.
"My kids are team players, and when we make that extra pass we shoot it better and we're really tough to guard."
Spreen springs forth in 3rd
While Norman finished with 15 points in the first half, Spreen sprang free in the third after Martinsville attempted to play man-to-man at the defensive end. She exploited that in a hurry with 10 third-period points as she operated nicely from 12 feet on in.
"It felt a little better tonight," said Spreen, who went 9 for 18 from the field. "I'm still not hitting threes, but I'll get it figured out. I think man-to-man is more my forté right now.
"But we just got off to a great start and kept it going. Coach wanted us to start getting off to better starts and stressed to us to make better decisions with the ball, have better shot selection, and just value possessions.
"It's what we're going to need in the tournament, and we did a good job tonight."
Martinsville will use loss constructively
Spreen tacked on six points and Bailey five in the fourth quarter before exiting, but the Artesians kept battling and were outscored just 13-10 over the last eight minutes. Senior Delaney Wolfe scored four points and sophomore Emma Potter drained a 3-pointer.
Willen wound up with 13 points and Wolfe seven for Martinsville (7-14), which drew a first-round bye in Sectional 14 and will face the winner of Game 1 (Columbus East vs. Bloomington North) on Friday, Feb. 4.
"We were just up against a superior team in every way," Dorsett said. "BNL plays so hard and play the game the right way. We want to keep BNL on the schedule because it's a class program and I can point to them, show the film, and tell my kids that's how you want to play the game.
"We'll use this game to hopefully get better and get ready for Columbus East. We've played some good teams this year and I think BNL is the best we've seen, so I hope we got a little better because of it."
Bailey added a career-high 16 points with four steals and four assists for the Lady Stars (20-2), who meet Jeffersonville Tuesday night in Game 2 of Sectional 15 at Jeffersonville.
Contact Times-Mail Sports Writer Jeff Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @jeffbtmnews.
BEDFORD NL 66, MARTINSVILLE 33
Bedford North Lawrence (66)
Kern f 2-3 0-0 4, Pride f 1-3 0-0 2, Spreen g 9-18 4-4 22, Norman g 6-9 0-0 15, Bailey g 6-11 1-1 16, Turner 1-3 1-2 3, Crane 2-2 0-0 4, Teague 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Baumgart 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-43 6-73 66.
Owens f 2-3 0-0 5, Martin f 0-0 1-2 1, Polston c 1-2 0-0 2, Wolfe g 2-12 3-6 7, Willen 5-16 0-0 13, Galyan 1-2 0-0 2, Potter 1-1 0-0 3, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Meade 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-36 4-8 33.
Bedford NL (20-2) 19 | 21 | 13 | 13 — 66
Martinsville (7-14) 8 | 19 | 6 | 10 — 33
3-point goals: Bedford NL 6-19 (Bailey 3-7, Norman 3-5, Spreen 0-5, Kern 0-1, Teague 0-1); Martinsville 5-22 (Willen 3-14, Wolfe 0-4, Owens 1-2, Potter 1-1, Polston 0-1). Rebounds: Bedford NL 33 (Norman 9); Martinsville 19 (Martin 6). Turnovers: Bedford NL 7, Martinsville 21. Total fouls: Bedford NL 10, Martinsville 7. JV: Bedford NL, 38-12.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford North Lawrence girls dominate Martinsville in regular-season finale