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BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS: Split districts make for a new post-season locally

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By Mike Farner

 Check Monday's edition of The Pioneer News and continue to check www.pioneernews.net for updates on all the Bullitt County teams during tournament action.

23rd District Boys' Basketball Tournament (at Moore):

FRIDAY 2/24:

Moore 62, Southern 55

WEDNESDAY 2/22:

Southern 59, NORTH BULLITT 33

TUESDAY 2/21:

Moore 73, BULLITT CENTRAL 47

MONDAY 2/20:

BULLITT CENTRAL 75, Evangel Christian 34

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23rd District Girls' Basketball Tournament (at Moore):

THURSDAY 2/23:

NORTH BULLITT 49, BULLITT CENTRAL 38

WEDNESDAY 2/22:

NORTH BULLITT 62, Moore 37

TUESDAY 2/21:

BULLITT CENTRAL 56, Southern 33

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24th District Boys' Basketball Tournament (at Bullitt East):

FRIDAY 2/24:

BULLITT EAST 68, Jeffersontown 47

WEDNESDAY 2/22:

BULLITT EAST 72, Whitefield Academy 31

Jeffersontown 87, Fern Creek 62

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24th District Girls' Basketball Tournament (at Bullitt East):

THURSDAY 2/23:

Mercy 64, BULLITT EAST 45

TUESDAY 2/21:

BULLITT EAST 49, Fern Creek 40

Mercy 74, Jeffersontown 59

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SHEPHERDSVILLE - One of the most successful regular seasons in Bullitt County basketball history will move into stage II tonight when post-season play begins at both Moore and Bullitt East High Schools.

The memorable season has four local teams winning 20 or more games during the regular season, something that has never happened before. In addition, five of the six area teams have winning records while the other, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers, is 13-15 and could well advance out of district play to the Sixth Region Tournament.

By Wednesday, the news could be even better as it is very possible that all three girls’ teams from Bullitt County could qualify for regional play, something that has never happened before. It is possible that two Bullitt County teams could squad off in regional play, something that also has never happened before in basketball (it has in softball, but not basketball nor baseball).

The second part of that good news scenario is possible because of realignment that now has North Bullitt and Bullitt Central in the 23rd District while Bullitt East is competing in the 24th District.

While both of the new districts are using seeding for the post-season tournaments, that hasn’t exactly put every team exactly where it should be, but that happens. Both the boys’ 23rd District and the girls’ 24th District had regular season upsets that have put several teams in tougher spots than they probably should be, but if you are using regular season results you really have no one to blame but yourself.

One of those teams is certainly the Bullitt Central Cougars. Coach Joe Pat Lee’s team is having the best campaign the program has seen in over a decade, but because of a bad loss to North Bullitt in the middle of the season, and then a one-point loss to Southern in February, the Cougars have dropped to the number four spot in the 23rd District.

That means that the Cougars will play tonight at 6 p.m. against Evangel at Moore. The Cougars beat Evangel xx-xx at home back in December.

That is the good news. The bad news is that with the expected win on Monday, the Cougars will be back at Moore on Tuesday to take on top-seeded Moore at 7:30 p.m. The Mustangs are ranked sixth in the state and beat the Cougars on the same court 84-34 just three weeks ago.

That is a monumental task.

Pretty much the same situation exists in the Girls’ 24th District where Jeffersontown is one of the top-ranked teams in the Sixth Region but because of a 66-59 upset loss to Fern Creek back on Jan. 20, they are seeded fourth. That puts them in the same part of the bracket as Mercy, the state’s third-ranked team.

Bullitt East beat Jeffersontown 59-45 on Jan. 10 and later blasted Fern Creek 66-38 on Jan. 31. Bullitt East played one of its best games of the season to beat Jeffersontown.

Because of those two situations, it is hard to pick any upsets in any of the four district brackets involving Bullitt County teams in terms of teams reaching the championship games.

I fully expect Mercy and Bullitt East to play in the 24th District final on Thursday with Bullitt East and Jeffersontown colliding in the boys’ final the next night. In the 23rd District, Bullitt Central and North Bullitt should win early in the week and play on Thursday while Moore and Southern will advance to the boys’ final on Friday.

That sets up two super finals in the mix for Bullitt County fans.

On Thursday, a Bullitt Central-North Bullitt showdown would be big on a number of levels. First and foremost, North Bullitt has not won a girls’ district title since 1979. Bullitt Central has beaten North Bullitt twice during the regular season, but in the most recent meeting Bullitt Central needed a big rally in the fourth quarter for the 78-65 win.

On Friday, a Bullitt East-Jeffersontown game would be the juiciest game in Louisville basketball for the week. It was a nearly packed house on Jan. 6 when the two teams clashed in Mount Washington, a game that Bullitt East won 68-57. Bullitt East is the state’s fifth-ranked team while Jeffersontown is ranked eighth and just a week ago the Louisville Chargers beat Ballard.

While both teams would advance to the Sixth Region Tournament while playing in the district final, the draw will be somewhat better for the winner than the loser. The loser of the 24th District final would probably have to face (third-ranked) Pleasure Ridge Park, (sixth-ranked) Moore or (19th ranked) Butler in the first-round of regional play.