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FAIRDALE - Primed for a deep-run in the 2012 King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale High School, the Bullitt East Chargers bolted out of the gate on Thursday, pounding Bowling Green 88-43.
The victory was that much more impressive as the Purples were ranked 14th in the pre-season coaches’ poll.
Bullitt East looked like the second-ranked team in the state as they put together a nearly flawless performance in the first half. The Chargers never trailed in the game and the only tie came at 4-4.
For 16 minutes, the red and gold could not be stopped, racing out to a 53-25 lead as they connected on 22 of 33 shots from the field. The victory was so complete that the new ‘mercy’ rule kicked in at the 4:34 mark of the third quarter when the lead swelled to 35 points. The remainder of the game was played with a running clock.
“We expected them to press and we felt like we wanted to attack,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said after the game. “They didn’t bring as much pressure was we expected, but we kept attacking.
“We have guys who can pass and score,” the coach added. “When you do that you are going to be successful.”
Bullitt East senior forward Rusty Troutman put on a sterling performance that was viewed by his future college coach, Bellarmine’s Scotty Davenport. Troutman exploded for 29 points and he also had a team-high six rebounds in the rout. Troutman led the shooting onslaught as he made ten of his 13 shots including a four-of-six effort from beyond the arc.
“What a lot of people don’t see is that he has people setting him up,” Barr pointed out. “You have Derek (Willis) going to the University of Kentucky and he is looking for Rusty. That is a good thing.”
For the game, Bullitt East shot 68 percent from the field. That golden number included a 28 of 36 count on shots inside the arc.
This is the third straight season that Bullitt East has played in the prestigious tournament and they were definitely ready for the bright lights.
“The one thing we talked about was that this is the King of the Bluegrass,” Barr said. “It’s a big stage.
“There might not be a better tournament in the country,” the veteran coach added. “The atmosphere is incredible. The guys were ready for that and ready for the big stage.”
After the game was tied at 4-4, Bullitt East scored 17 of the game’s next 19 points to take control. Troutman scored 13 of those points and fell senior Elliot Young had the other four. Troutman nailed a trio of three-pointers in the early surge.
The rout was then on as the Chargers led 27-12 after one quarter before stretching that to a 53-25 advantage by halftime.
Normally when the shooting numbers are so positive, there are not a lot of rebounds to be had. Still, Bullitt East won the battle of the boards 27-18. The Charges also forced 21 Bowling Green turnovers.
Bowling Green, which was playing without 6-6 junior Joseph Ayers, got ten points each from Blue Tisdale and Clay Stivers.
Other than the 29 points from Troutman, Bullitt East also got 13 points from Willis and 12 by Young. Point guard Trey Rakes handed out eight assists.
The win moved Bullitt East into Friday night’s tournament quarter-finals where they were to face Sixth Region rival Pleasure Ridge Park.
King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic At Fairdale HS
BOWLING GREEN 43 (12-13-10-8) Blue Tisdale 10, Tucker Sine 4, Nacarius Fant 6, Jestin Wright 5, Malik Carothers 3, Clay Stivers 10, Logan Riehn 5.
BULLITT EAST 88 (27-26-18-17) Trey Rakes 7, Rusty Troutman 29, Rhet Troutman 7, Derek Jones 6, Hunter Noffsinger 5, Elliot Young 12, Blake Allen 2, Derek Willis 13, Ezra Troutman 2, Tyler Bacon 5.