TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Brittani Rizzi was third-best scorer for Bedford North Lawrence during the season, but in her last game as a Star, she shined on the state’s biggest stage for girls basketball.
The 5-foot-7 guard scored a game-high 17 points to lead Bedford North Lawrence Stars (27-1) in defeating the Penn Kingsmen (25-2) 51-41 for the Indiana Class 4A title.
It is the Stars’ second consecutive title. Last season they finished 28-0.
“At the beginning of the season, I don’t think we had that hunger,” the Stars’ Jenna Allen said. “But then when Lawrence North beat us, I feel we got it back. We wanted to be undefeated state champs. They took that away from us and that made us hungry again.”
Allen fouled out with 1:45 to play in the game, but finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Dominique McBryde also contributed a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.
Brizzi hit her first 3-pointer 13 seconds into the game as Bedford North Lawrence led from the onset except for a 5-all tie. But the Stars could not shake the poor-shooting Kingsmen, who were just 6 of 28 in the first half after starting 1 of 17.
“We were able to do a lot of things to disrupt them from a defensive standpoint,” Penn coach Kristi Kaniewski Ulrich said. “We lost the shooter a number of times. There were a number of things that led to that shooting percentage looking so low.”
Penn forced 18 turnovers and was able to convert them into 14 points, which aided in the Kingsmen keeping it close.
Jessi Alexander led Penn with 11 points and was the lone double-digit scorer.
With the lead at 29-24, Stars coach Damon Bailey called a 30-second timeout.
“We just said, `This is it.’ All the things we’ve talked about and some of the things we were doing were working.” Bailey said of the conversation in the huddle. “I told the kids to stay within the game plan of what we want done and they continued to execute that and then Brittani (Rizzi) started making shots.”
They responded in a big way by going on a 13-4 run. Nine of the points came on Brizzi sinking three triples in as many times down the floor.
“We knew they would come out and show us a zone (defense),” Brizzi said. “Zone is when you (as a shooter) will get to shoot the ball. I knew I had to look to shoot the ball.”
Bailey now holds the unique distinction of winning a boys state title as a player, a girls title as a head coach, along with be named an Indiana Mr. Basketball recipient.
“Well, this is a lot more nerve-racking,” the first-year head coach said with a laugh. “I’d feel a lot better if I was out there playing, that’s for sure. But I think you have a greater appreciation for it now (as a coach). When I was 17 or 18 years old, yeah, you’re excited about winning it. As an adult and as a parent, you understand how much time and how much energy goes into it.”