MOUNT WASHINGTON - There are a lot of teams with high expectations of winning the Boys’ Sixth Region Basketball title this season.
Count the Bullitt East Chargers among that group.
In a season in which ‘parity’ seems like the most popular word in coaches’ vocabularies, coach Troy Barr’s team has experience, size and depth.
While there is a lot of basketball ahead for this group to decide its place in Charger basketball lore, there is little to argue that this could well be the biggest and deepest team ever in Mount Washington.
The ‘official’ varsity roster as of last week had 12 players and Barr is ready to put any of them into any game at any time. Many of the nine seniors and juniors have heavy varsity experience. The numbers could swell later this month as the football players have not reported or even gone through a try-out.
Of course, the boys’ basketball program always has big plans at Bullitt East, but the expectations are even higher than normal this year. The Chargers are mentioned in the same breath with the other top teams in the region - Fairdale, Pleasure Ridge Park, Central and Shawnee.
“We do have high expectations,” veteran Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said early last week. “We feel we can be a very good team by the end of the season. We don’t worry about what others feel like. That’s why we play the games. We’ll figure it out one way or the other.”
That includes the roster which could be in flux most of the season. Any player that earns a uniform on game night could see valuable minutes.
“Those 12 have set themselves apart from the others,” Barr said. “We have a few who are getting close to that group. We’ll leave some spots open to motivate some of the younger kids so they can dress on certain nights.”
One look at the roster and you are taken by the overall size of the Chargers this season. Both senior Willie Moore and sophomore Corey Washburn stand 6-6 and there are five other players who measure at least 6-3 and some of those are listed as guards.
“I’ve been around here a long time. I played here and I’ve coached here so that is 20 years and this is the biggest team I can remember, size wise,” Barr said. “If that is good or not we still have to prove.
“We had some kids grow,” the coach pointed out. “We’re not a huge team, but we’re above average. We’ll give people some trouble with our size on offense and defense. Those kids are also stronger and faster.”
Both Moore and Washburn are not just tall, but also stout. They will not be pushed around under the basket. They also benefit each day from banging on each other.
Moore is the most experienced of the Charger inside players and is ranked among the top players in the Sixth Region. Barr also has toyed with the option of playing both Moore and Washburn at the same time. In a recent scrimmage, Washburn started and led the team with 16 points and eight rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.
While strength and conditioning are key components for any team in the off-season, Bullitt East worked more in the weight room than running laps with this group.
“We really focused on getting stronger this fall,” Barr explained. “We didn’t run as much because we want to put weight on the kids instead of running it off of them.
“I feel like our depth will allow us to play enough so that conditioning will not be that big a factor,” the coach noted.
At least at the start, Barr will put his three most experienced players on the floor - Moore and senior guards Adam Kelty and Tyler Downs.
“All three players varsity with us as freshmen,” Barr pointed out. “They have been there and done that for four years. We have nine other guys who I feel extremely comfortable putting in a game and seeing them produce.”
Bullitt East has a number of players who could score 20 points in a game, but Barr thinks that over the season it will work out to having a lot of kids averaging 10 to 12 points a game.
“I would not be surprised if we have seven or eight different kids lead us in scoring in different games,” Barr said. “We have kids who can score. It will allow kids to utilize their talent to put points on the board for us.”
Two seasons ago, every Bullitt East possession was designed to go through one player - Robert Troutman, who now plays for Tusculum University. That changed last year to a more open approach and this year Barr won’t call plays for particular players.
“There’s not a time we’ll go down the floor for a particular player,” the coach said. “We’ll see what the defense gives us and take it. The team has a lot of freedom. So far, they have looked good doing it.”
While most high school teams run three guards and two front court players because of a lack of size, Bullitt East will have the traditional two guard, two forward and one center line-up.
At center, Moore and Washburn will see most of the minutes this season.
Bullitt East will even have ‘power’ forwards this winter. Senior Tyler Payne, at 6-5, will get the first look, but both Adam Edge and Justin Smith can come off the bench.
At ‘small’ forward, senior Grant Polson and juniors Brandon Alphin and Chase Troutman all are candidates for playing time.
In the backcourt, both Kelty and Downs have experience at either the point guard or shooting guard spots. Depth at guard will also come from senior Kodey Kearney.
As if Bullitt East didn’t have enough firepower, the team has added sophomore Hayden Sweat to the roster this season. He played middle school basketball at Mount Washington Middle School, leading the Generals in scoring for two seasons, but then attended Trinity as a freshman. He started school there again in August, but then transferred to Bullitt East early in October and he has been cleared by the KHSAA to play.
Bullitt East will have a lot of chances to test themselves this season. Barr is saying that this year’s schedule could match the one four years ago that prepared the team to win the Eighth Region title that advanced them to the Kentucky State Tournament.
The most noticeable similarity is that the Chargers are back in the prestigious King of the Bluegrass Tournament that will start on Dec. 18. Bullitt East will square off against Lexington Catholic, the pre-season number seven team in Kentucky, in the first game.
The second holiday tournament will be the Lloyd Memorial event in northern Kentucky starting on Dec. 27.
The Chargers will open the season on Tuesday at home against Franklin County, the 19th ranked team in the state.
Bullitt East has the same coaching staff in place this season. Aaron Troutman and Darrell Vincent will be Barr’s assistants and the coach will also helped by volunteer coach ‘Junebug’ Rakes.
2008-09 Bullitt East Chargers
1: Kodey Kearney, 5-6, G, Sr.
5: Adam Kelty, 6-0, G, Sr.
10: Tyler Downs, 6-0. G, Sr.
24: Grant Polson, 6-3, G, Sr.
33: Tyler Payne, 6-5, F, Sr.
55: Willie Moore, 6-6, C, Sr.
21: Brandon Alphin, 6-0, G, Jr.
22: Chase Troutman, 6-3, G, Jr.
35: Adam Edge, 6-5, F, Jr.
15: Hayden Sweat, 5-10, G, So.
25: Justin Smith, 6-3, F, So.
44: Corey Washburn, 6-6, C, So.
**The roster does not include any football players who might join the team after the completion of the football season
Head Coach - Troy Barr (7th season)
Assistant Coaches - Aaron Troutman, Darrell Vincent, Junebug Rakes