HEBRON ESTATES - For the second Friday night in a row, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars battled through serious foul trouble.
A week earlier, those foul problems led to a three-point loss to Bullitt East. A week later, despite trailing by four points early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Cougars found a way to win, rallying past district rival North Bullitt for a 57-49 victory.
Bullitt Central converted 15 of 20 free throws over the final seven minutes to secure the win.
While the loss was disappointing for North Bullitt, it did show that the young Lady Eagles continue to make strides, despite this being their first loss of the season.
“It was a good, hard-fought game,” Bullitt Central head coach Bryan Bates said after the contest. “North Bullitt is just so much better. They have improved so much the past few years.”
Bullitt Central showed a little growing up themselves as they found a way to win a game in week two that they felt they gave away in week one. The Lady Cougars did it on a night when both of their leading scorers, seniors Kaitlyn McKnight and Seaera Minyard battled serious foul trouble. In fact, Minyard fouled out 30 seconds into the fourth quarter and scored just two points.
McKnight, who picked up her fourth foul on the final play of the third quarter, managed to stay in the game the entire fourth quarter. The senior forward scored 12 of her game-high 20 points down the stretch.
“I think Seaera was in foul trouble before the game started,” Bates said, perhaps trying to put a smile on his own face. “That’s one thing we can’t have. Hopefully, by the end of this year we’ll learn to stay out of foul trouble.”
North Bullitt took advantage of the Lady Cougars’ inside problems to move ahead 24-23 heading into halftime and they were up 34-32 after scoring the final seven points of the third frame. When eighth-grader Erin Dolan hit a short jumper with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, the Lady Eagles were up 38-34.
Bullitt Central responded with a free throw from McKnight and then at the 6:07 mark, Kayla Riggs, who had missed the Bullitt East game a week earlier, nailed a three-pointer that pulled the Lady Cougars even. North Bullitt responded with seven of the next night points to take its biggest lead of the game at 45-40 midway through the fourth quarter.
McKnight then took the game on her shoulders. After teammate Chelsey Fogarty hit two free throws, McKnight responded with the next six points including a three-pointer from the corner. Two free throws by McKnight ended the surge and put the Lady Cougars ahead for good.
Still, after Riggs hit two free throws to put the Lady Cougars up 52-47 with just under a minute to play, North Bullitt answered with a basket from Caitlin Montgomery. The Lady Eagles got the ball back, but then missed two free throws with 53 seconds remaining. Bullitt Central then gave the ball back, but when the Lady Eagles tried to throw a pass to the wing, Lady Cougar junior Kristen Collins made the steal and drove in for a lay-up that sealed the outcome.
Bullitt Central added three free throws in the final 17 seconds to account for the final margin.
“Hopefully, this was a confidence building game for us,” Bates said. “Our confidence was shaken after the Holy Cross game. This was a good win for us.”
For North Bullitt head coach Amber Courtney, a Bullitt Central graduate, the setback was just a sign that her team is headed in the right direction this winter.
“I was pleased with the whole game except when Bullitt Central made that comeback with four minutes to go,” Courtney said later. “We don’t know how to hold the lead. We got tense. We missed some important free throws at the end of the game.”
North Bullitt converted only 17 of 33 free throws for the game with seven of the misses coming in the fourth quarter.
“We stopped Minyard, but then McKnight was slashing to the basket,” Courtney pointed out. “We contained them until the end. It was the guard penetration that hurt us the most.”
Bullitt Central’s five starters scored all but five of the team’s 57 points. McKnight had her 20 points while Collins finished with 11. The Bullitt Central guards had Riggs scoring ten points while Selena Yunt posted nine points with ten rebounds and nine deflections.
“She was huge for us in the second half,” Bates said of Yunt.
Fogarty, who came off the bench to fill in for both McKnight and Minyard, scored five points and pulled down eight rebounds.
North Bullitt was led by freshman Savannah Morrison who collected 15 points while Montgomery, a junior, tossed in 12 points.
North Bullitt played without sophomore starter Maria George who was hospitalized the night before the game with a non-basketball situation.
While both teams are in the same new 23rd District this season, this game will not be used in the seeding process for the post-season tournament. The game that will be used for that purpose will be the rematch that will be played in Shepherdsville on Jan. 13.
Both teams are also entered in the First Citizens Bank Classic at North Bullitt to be played between the two upcoming holidays. The teams are in opposite brackets so cannot meet until the final day.
At North Bullitt
BULLITT CENTRAL 57 (9-14-9-25) Seaera Minyard 2, Kaitlyn McKnight 20, Selena Yunt 9, Kristen Collins 11, Kayla Riggs 10, Chelsey Fogarty 5.
NORTH BULLITT 49 (9-15-10-15) Holly White 4, Savannah Morrison 15, Reba Stice 4, Caitlin Montgomery 12, Katie Downey 2, Kasey McCoy 4, Erin Dolan 6, Shelby Morrison 2.
Give the young Lady Eagles credit. They are fast learners as it took just 24 hours for the team to learn how to win a close game against equal opposition when the green and gold outscored Oldham County in the fourth quarter en route to a 50-48 decision in the Ronald McDonald’s Classic.
North Bullitt trailed 22-17 at halftime and Courtney’s team was still down 33-29 entering the fourth quarter before they outscored the Eighth Region team 21-15 over the final eight minutes.
The win moved North Bullitt to 4-1 after the first two weeks of the season. Oldham County fell to 3-2.
Savannah Morrison led North Bullitt with 20 points. The Lady Eagles also got nine points each from Montgomery and Downey.
Oldham County got four three-pointers from sophomore Ashley McMurtrey who led all scorers in the game with 22 points.
At Oldham County
NORTH BULLITT 50 (3-14-12-21) Holly White 2, Savannah Morrison 20, Caitlin Montgomery 9, Katie Downey 9, Bre Stewart 2, Kasey McCoy 5, Rachel Badgett 2, Erin Dolan 1.
OLDHAM COUNTY 48 (4-18-11-15) Lenhart 13, Wishnevski 2, McMurtrey 22, Stewart 1, Middaugh 4, Larson 3, Werner 3.