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HEBRON ESTATES - A week after the team’s three senior starters combined for 65 points in a loss to Fairdale, North Bullitt’s high-scoring trio put 53 points on the board on Friday in an easier than expected 74-57 victory at home over arch-rival Bullitt Central.
Leading the way for the Eagles was senior wing player Kenton Aubrey who had the best game of his career with a game-high 30 points. The Eagles also got 14 points from senior James Whitfill and nine points from Travis Ridley.
Junior Tony Majors added to the offense with 10 points.
“Kenton has improved so much for us,” North Bullitt head coach Lee Barger said after the game.
The win was the third of the season for the Eagles and moved them to 3-3 overall. This was a team that won jus four games all of last season.
Barger points to the difference being a group that can overcome adversity and not get down each time the opposition makes a run. That was obvious early in the game on Friday when Bullitt Central went on a 9-2 run that erased most of an early 15-7 Eagle lead.
The Cougars were still within 21-20 before North Bullitt closed out the half on a 13-5 run that put them up 34-25 at halftime. That continued with an 11-2 start to the second half that broke the game open.
“That’s the difference in last year and this year,” Barger said. “Last year if a team had a short run it was over for us. We had no fight to get back in it.
“There is a lot more leadership on this team and it starts with Jason Sutton,” the coach added. “He might not be high in the stat sheet, but he is a tough kid who has changed the locker room. He is a big part of the new demeanor of the team.”
When Bullitt Central (2-4) did get back in the game in the first half, North Bullitt had been trying to press. When they switched back to a man-to-man defense they throttled the Cougars’ attack.
“When we started out pressing we gave up some easy baskets,” Barger said. “then we played man-to-man. Last year we couldn’t guard them in that defense, but tonight it was our best defense. Tonight we closed out very well. We were afraid of the threes in transition, but we closed out each time.”
Bullitt Central’s woes could easily be traced back to two points. First, the team did not connect on a three-pointer over the first three quarters of the game, missing from long range the first dozen times they put the ball up from beyond the arc.
Second, when the Cougars were within 19-18, sophomore center Corey Brown, the tallest player in the game picked up his third foul of the game and went to the bench. He had scored 11 of is team’s first 14 points.
“Corey’s foul was big because he was playing well,” Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee said. “We still had it within reason at halftime. Then we didn’t play defense in the second half and it snowballed.”
Despite the poor shooting by his team, Lee felt it was a lack of defense that spelled doom for his team.
“We really struggled defensively as a whole team,” the coach said. “We gave up a career night to Aubrey and we shouldn’t have.
“North Bullitt brought it to us and we didn’t respond,” Lee continued. “They kicked us in the tail.”
It was also a bad night for Bullitt Central’s two seniors. Travis Stepp scored just seven points while Jordan Peercy had just one free throw.
Bullitt Central did get 23 points from sophomore Corey Craddock as well as 14 points from Smith.
For the first time in a number of years, this first meeting between the two schools does not count in the district seeding standings. The only game that will count is when the two teams meet on Jan. 15 in Shepherdsville.
Still, that doesn’t take any of the luster off this win for the Eagles.
“It definitely counts,” Barger said. “It counts for our pride. It counts to get us back to .500 and we wanted to win. It counts to the whole school.”
The two teams could meet again this week. Both teams won their opening round games in the Sarah Major Barger Tournament that North Bullitt is hosting this week. That put both teams into Tuesday night semi-finals and they could meet on Wednesday in the championship game.
At North Bullitt
BULLITT CENTRAL 57 (14-11-9-23) Jordan Peercy 1, Travis Stepp 7, Caleb Craddock 23, Damon Shepherd 8, Corey Smith 14, Miciah Ocasio 2, Luke Whitmore 1, Dean West 1.
NORTH BULLITT 74 (17-17-14-26) Brandon Goeing 2, Travis Ridley 9, Cody Montgomery 4, Tony Majors 10, James Whitfill 14, Alan Crowe 5, Kenton Aubrey 30.