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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Looking back on any year with regards to the high school sports scene and you can always find a few gems and a few nuggets. That is just the nature of the beast.
In 2011, the look back includes some great highlights. In fact, 2011 had some of the brightest highlights in Bullitt County’s sports history.
Two weeks and one day stand out above a crowded field as the top stories of 2011.
The two weeks came in March when the Bullitt East Chargers had a magical run in basketball, winning the programs’ first title in the always tough Sixth Region and then coming back to pick up the county’s first-ever victory in the state basketball tournament when the red and gold downed Bardstown 53-44 in the first-round in Rupp Arena.
The big run actually had been brewing since the first of the year. In the Louisville Invitational Tournament, Bullitt East had showed a lot of moxie in upsetting then top-ranked Jeffersontown in the quarter-finals on Friday.
The post-season started with Bullitt East winning a second-straight 24th District title with a win over Fairdale. The Sixth Region bracket was stacked against the Chargers, but they opened with a five-point win over Iroquois before taking out Western in the semi-finals.
Bullitt East then played in the final against Pleasure Ridge Park. The Chargers trailed in that game midway through the third quarter, but a huge run late pushed coach Troy Barr’s team to an 81-58 victory for the program’s first regional title since the Chargers won the Eighth Region title in 2004.
In Lexington, the Chargers were one of the teams to beat and they showed that early strength with the win over Bardstown. That was not the end of the story. Bullitt East won again on Friday of that week, beating Marshall County 71-62, earning a spot in the semi-finals on Saturday. While the road ended there with a 51-49 loss to Rowan County, it was a run never to be forgotten.
With three starters back, Bullitt East was voted the number four team in the state in November of 2011 for the upcoming season. Charger junior Derek Willis was ranked as the top player in the state, another first.
But there was more in 2011. Lots more.
The single day that stood out came in late May at the Class AA State Track and Field Championships in Louisville. For the second straight year, Bullitt County had a pair of state champions as Bullitt East junior Trevor Troutman and North Bullitt freshman Chelsey Slayton brought back the top hardware.
Troutman’s title came in the discus where he claimed the top spot on his very last throw. That effort was actually the best of the state championships in any class in 2011. Troutman had finished second a year earlier in the discus, having lost on the final throw.
Troutman’s state championship medal can now be displayed next to the one his father won as a senior at Bullitt Central in 1973 in the same event, the discus. No Bullitt County male has won a state championship whose last name is not Troutman.
Slayton, who was the defending champion at 800-meters, had finished second in the regional final a week earlier, the same as she had done the year before. Again, she ran her best time of the year in the state finals, bringing home the third state track title in North Bullitt history.
Bullitt East junior Jacob Duvall finished second in the 110-meter hurdles on that day in Louisville.
Track was not the only spring sport to find success in 2011. Bullitt East won a seventh straight district baseball title when they rolled past North Bullitt 9-2 in May, reversing a mid-season loss to the Eagles. The Chargers then reached the Sixth Region semi-finals before falling to Pleasure Ridge Park 5-1.
Bullitt East also had a strong year in softball, winning the 24th District title for a second consecutive season when they beat Bullitt Central 5-2. The Lady Chargers also reached the regional semi-finals before a bad outing led to a 7-0 defeat to Pleasure Ridge Park.
Spring sports also produced another state championships entry when Bullitt East senior Makaela Knight reached the regional semi-finals, advancing to the state meet for the third time in her career.
While the Bullitt East boys’ basketball team was making headlines in March, the Lady Chargers were also making a big run. Coach Chris Stallings’ team won a third-straight district title when they beat Bullitt Central and then the red and gold reached the Sixth Region final before bowing to Butler for a second consecutive year in the championship contest.
In June, Stallings became the second Bullitt East head coach to lead the Kentucky All-Stars into battle against the best from Indiana. Stallings’ work led to a split of the two games in the annual series.
In the fall of 2011, North Bullitt climbed to the top of the area volleyball scene when they beat Bullitt Central in the final of the 29th District Tournament. The Lady Eagles then advanced to the Eighth Region semi-finals before losing to Oldham County.
Soccer had some strong moments in 2011. Both of the Bullitt East squads won first round games in Ninth District play, but then lost tight matches in the semi-finals.
Football as always drew a lot of attention in 2011. North Bullitt had the strongest season of the group, losing just once in the regular season. The Eagles then beat Grayson County in the first-round of the Class 5-A play-offs before falling to Jeffersontown a week later.
Eagle senior running back Todd Asbury was named the Class 5-A Player of the Year in the state of Kentucky.
In cross-country, the Bullitt East boys’ finished eighth in the Class AA State Championships, the best team finish in county history.
While looking back on 2011, it was also a year to look ahead.
After a number of years as an independent sport, including a state championship a few seasons ago by the North Bullitt girls, bowling became an official sport sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in 2011. The first season for the new sport started in December.