BARDSTOWN - The start of three straight games in the Bethlehem Holiday Classic didn’t go as Bullitt Central had hoped, but after an opening loss, the maroon and gray rebounded in a big way on Tuesday and Wednesday to finish second in the four-team field.
“I’m proud of the kids right now,” Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee said. “We’re 7-3 with a tournament still to play.”
Bullitt Central’s opening game on Monday was against the host school. Just two weeks earlier, the Cougars had mauled the Eagles 80-50 in Shepherdsville.
At Bethlehem on Monday, the story was reversed as the Eagles got the pace they wanted and beat the Cougars 48-41. The 41 point total was the lowest of the season for the Cougars since the first game when they lost to North Oldham 43-37.
Twice this season Bullitt Central has scored 95 points in games.
The loss to Bullitt Central back on Dec. 3 is the only setback for Bethlehem this season as they now stand 7-1.
Bullitt Central will head into Christmas with a 7-3 record. In the three losses this season the Cougars are averaging only 47 points a game. In the seven wins, the team is averaging 78 points an outing.
Against Bethlehem, the Cougars connected on eight three-pointers but could do little else on offense. The maroon and gray scored just 15 points in the second half.
“They play slow and deliberate and we fell into that style,” Lee said. “We settled for threes instead of attacking their zone.
“We definitely were not as focused as we should have been,” Lee added.
Senior Ryan Schnellenberger had a trio of three-pointers and scored 13 points. Caleb Craddock and Damon Shepherd each added eight points.
The story got a lot better on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Cougars won easily on both nights.
A new winning streak was started on Tuesday when the maroon and gray bolted out of the gate to lead 20-3 and then coasted to a 67-48 victory over Frankfort High School.
Bullitt Central had four players in double figures led by Craddock who scored 21 points while Schnellenberger scored 14. John Sullivan tossed in 12 points while Corey Smith finished with 10 points.
The Cougars wrapped up second place in the field on Wednesday as they overcame an early hole and beat Whitley County 67-49. Bullitt Central trailed 14-10 after the first quarter but then went on a 25-10 run to take control of the game. The Cougars held Whitley County to 15 points in the two middle quarters.
Bullitt Central connected on eight three-pointers including three from Schnellenberger who led all scorers in the game with 27. Craddock added 21 points to the offense.
The Cougars will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Russellville for a holiday tournament. The maroon and gray will play three games in three days.
Bethlehem Holiday Classic at Bethlehem HS
BULLITT CENTRAL 41 (10-16-6-9) Caleb Craddock 8, Ryan Schnellenberger 13, Damon Shepherd 8, Corey Smith 4, John Sullivan 2, Aaron Duckett 6.
BETHLEHEM 48 (9-13-13-13) Phillips 9, Browning 2, Mudd 16, Rogers 8, Ray 6, Russell 2, Hale 2, Ballard 3.
BULLITT CENTRAL 67 (20-6-20-21) Caleb Craddock 21, Ryan Schnellenberger 14, Damon Shepherd 5, Corey Smith 10, Luke Whitmore 2, John Sullivan 12, Aaron Duckett 3.
FRANKFORT 48 (3-13-18-14) Floyd 2, Perry 11, Oliver 10, Jackson 14, Washington 2, Davis 4, Reed 5.
WHITLEY COUNTY 49 (14-10-5-20) Couch 6, D. Rutherford 12, Schafer 18, Lawson 2, Hale 4, Z. Rutherford 3, Foley 4.
BULLITT CENTRAL 67 (10-25-14-18) Caleb Craddock 21, Ryan Schnellenberger 27, Damon Shepherd 7, Luke Whitmore 2, John Sullivan 3, Aaron Duckett 5, Jeff Larison 2.