BE’s late 10-2 run avoids BC upset

-A A +A

Boys' Basketball

By Mike Farner

  SHEPHERDSVILLE - If there was an all-sports classic network in Bullitt County, they would be replaying Friday’s night’s Bullitt East-Bullitt Central rumble over-and-over for years to come.

Playing in front of a huge crowd in the big house, Bullitt East finished with a 10-2 surge to pull out a 52-51 victory. With just over three minutes remaining in the game, Bullitt Central had a 49-42 lead and a raucous home crowd could smell an upset for the ages.

But Bullitt East isn’t ranked among the top teams in the Kentucky this season without pulling out a few special victories. On a night when the red and gold made just 40 percent of its shots from the field and shot 50 percent at the foul line, coach Troy Barr’s team made the big plays at just the right time to avoid a stunning loss to a team that they had beaten by 16 points back in early December.

In the past, when the second meeting of the season between the bitter rivals takes place in Shepherdsville, Bullitt Central seems to be able to put its best foot forward.

“We’ve done that a couple of times here in the past,” Barr said as he could finally relax. “Last year we sort of stole one here and a few years ago we did that. I’m not going to complain.”

It was sort of the perfect storm of evens. Bullitt Central played its best game of the season while Bullitt East struggled with its shooting and failed to take advantage of having 6-8 Derek Willis and 6-7 Corey Washburn inside. The two big man combined to score just 16 points despite the fact that Bullitt Central doesn’t have anyone bigger than 6-4.

“Our shooting wasn’t good and the execution was not there,” Barr said. “That was it. We talked about doing other things.

“I don’t think we went inside enough,” the veteran coach added. “When you have three sophomores on the floor in a big game, that happens. We were dead in the water and found a way to win.”

It was a bitter defeat for Bullitt Central, but after the game head coach Joe Pat Lee was smiling and looking on the bright side for the way his team played for most of the game.

“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” Lee said. “They did all they could. We didn’t make some shots when we had to and had some turnovers. We did everything but win the game.

“They are ranked 14th in the state and we went toe-to-toe with them,” the Cougar coach added. “We followed the game plan.”

Bullitt East had a six-point lead at halftime and it could have been more as Bullitt Central scored the final five points of the second quarter. That momentum carried over into the second. During a stretch when the Cougars made three straight three-pointers by Miciah Ocasio, Ryan Schnellenberger and John Sullivan, they moved ahead 37-36.

Late in the third quarter, Bullitt Central’s side of the gym erupted when Caleb Craddock picked up a loose ball and fired a half-court pass to Damon Shepherd. Shepherd then found Ocasio breaking to the basket and the shot fell through despite Willis slapping the backboard.

Still, Bullitt Central was only up 41-40 heading into the final frame, but that started well when Sullivan drained a three-pointer. Hayden Sweat answered for Bullitt East, but then Craddock got loose for a short-jumper and when Sullivan nailed another three-pointer, the Cougars were up 49-42.

Bullitt East’s comeback started when Rusty Troutman worked free for a jumper and when the sophomore hit a free throw at 2:20, Bullitt East was within 49-45. Bullitt Central’s final basket of the game then came when Shepherd grabbed a loose ball and hit a short jumper.

The Chargers then got a big lift when Sweat nailed his only three-pointer of the game with 1:35 left to play to pull his team with 51-48. It was Sweat that scored again at the one minute mark and Bullitt Central had to call its last time-out at :50 with the score at 51-50.

On the inbounds play at mid-court, the Cougars turned the ball over. Bullitt East then got the ball to point guard Trey Rakes. The sophomore drove along the baseline and collided with Ryan Schnellenberger who went down with an ankle injury. After a long pause, he was helped off the court and the Cougars’ leading scorer did not return.

That was only the sixth foul on Bullitt Central, but when the Chargers inbounded the ball this time, Willis was fouled. The sophomore then stepped to the line with 46 seconds remaining and nailed both of the charity tosses.

Amazingly, those were the final points of the game. The reason for that was that Bullitt East did not foul enough to get into the bonus. Four times in the final 36 seconds they committed fouls to stop Bullitt Central from gaining momentum.

The Cougars did get a shot from Sullivan with 22 seconds to play, but it hit off the front of the rim and to Willis who was fouled. This time the sophomore missed the first shot. After another foul, Craddock tried a shot over Willis that spun around the rim and off. Brett Hatfield got the rebound at :08 and was fouled, but failed to convert.

Despite being the team’s leading scorer this season, Sweat took one for the team when he committed his fifth foul at :03.9, but it was only the sixth on the Chargers. Bullitt Central got a final chance. The inbounds pass went to Ocasio who tossed it quickly to Craddock. The junior’s jumper was wide of the mark as the horn sounded.

“We were telling them that they had to have stops or force bad shots and get some rebounds,” Barr said of the late time-outs. “Bullitt Central was ut of time-outs and we turned them over a few times. BC only had eight (turnovers), but there were some big ones late.”

Bullitt Central really didn’t shoot it that well, but when you make 11 (of 24) three-pointers it gives the impression that you are lighting it up. 

“They shot it awfully well tonight,” Barr noted. “My hat is off to them. They had a great game plan and they executed it. They hit some big shots.”

“The kids did what they were supposed to do, especially in the second half,” Lee pointed out. “We weren’t patient enough early to get the best shot, but we did that in the second half.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them in the second half,” the Cougar coach said.

The final numbers had Sweat scoring 12 points for the Chargers while Troutman finished with 10 points.

Bullitt Central countered with 16 points from Schnellenberger and 14 points by Sullivan.

The win by Bullitt East gave them the number one seed for the 24th District Tournament which will be played at Bullitt Central during the final week of February. Bullitt Central slipped to the number three slot and will face Fairdale in one of the semi-finals.

Later this week, Bullitt East will be on the road and will take on South Oldham on Thursday. Bullitt Central will play host to North Bullitt on Friday and will then battle at Evangel on Saturday.


At Bullitt Central

BULLITT EAST 52 (13-16-12-12) Trey Rakes 8, Rusty Troutman 10, Hayden Sweat 12, Reese Hardin 4, Brett Hatfield 2, Derek Willis 9, Corey Washburn 7.

BULLITT CENTRAL 51 (11-12-18-10) Miciah Ocasio 8, Caleb Craddock 4, Damon Shepherd 6, Ryan Schnellenberger 16, John Sullivan 14, Luke Whitmore 3.