OKOLONA - Less than 24 hours before boarding a plane for Florida and a day after not practicing because of bad weather, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars had to face struggling Southern on the road.
The game had ‘trap’ written all over it and when the Lady Trojans pulled within 32-27 early in the second half, Bullitt Central head coach Bryan Bates could feel the trap slowly closing.
Fortunately, the Lady Cougars full-court pressure provided just enough spark for the maroon to escape with a 64-48 victory in which Bullitt Central just did not play very well.
“I think our minds were on the plane already,” Bates said after a long meeting with his team after the game. “It was just our bodies on the floor.”
Bates said after the game that there were even more factors going against his team. One was that the players were going through finals that week. Another was the fact that the players had easily seen where Southern had scored just 18 points four nights earlier in a loss to Bullitt East.
“There were a lot of factors involved,” Bates said of the reasons his team sputtered on Tuesday. “Those are all excuses and we don’t like to make excuses. Southern was going through many of the same things. We just did not show up to play.”
After Southern’s Keona Daniel nailed a three-pointer to pull her team within 32-27, Bullitt Central turned up the defensive pressure. Forcing a flurry of Lady Trojan turnovers, the lady Cougars score 12 straight points to regain control of the contest.
The first six points in that deciding run came from junior Seaera Minyard before Ashleigh Pollard converted a three point play. Kristen Collins then nailed a three-pointer to push the maroon and gray to a 44-27 edge.
Bullitt Central led 47-31 heading into the fourth quarter and Southern never got back within single-digits.
“Our three sophomores saved us tonight,” Bates pointed out of Collins, Selena Yunt and Kayla Riggs. “They had deflections on defense and Yunt and Collins led us in deflections and rebounds. Riggs made some drives to the basket and made some good passes.”
Southern has actually been a pretty good team this season despite the 63-18 loss to Bullitt East. The Lady Trojans dropped to 2-3 with the loss to Bullitt Central but they have scored at least 42 points in every game except in the loss in Mount Washington.
Minyard led Bullitt Central (4-1) with 18 points while Collins came off the bench to score 15 points including a trio of three-pointers.
Bullitt Central converted just 20 of 51 shots from the floor, but did make 19 of 29 free throw attempts to keep Southern at a safe distance down the stretch. The stat that burned Bates was the 23 turnovers that his team committed.
“We should never have that many turnovers,” the coach noted. “They didn’t even press us.”
Southern got 16 points from Daniel, a senior, while fellow senior Shavonne Jackson scored 15 points.
This was the only meeting between the two district rivals this season meaning that it will be the game that counts in the district seeding process. Bullitt Central is now 1-0 in those standings while Southern is 0-2.
Bullitt Central did fly out of Louisville on Wednesday headed for Florida and the KSA Classic at Walt Disney World. The team returned to Louisville on Sunday and will not play again between hosting the Lady Cougar Invitational starting on Dec. 28.
BULLITT CENTRAL 64 (12-18-16-17) Keoka Hilliard 7, Ashleigh Pollard 6, Valerie Terry 2, Seaera Minyard 18, Kristen Collins 15, Kayla Riggs 4, Kaitlyn McKnight 6, Selena Yunt 6.
SOUTHERN 48 (13-7-11-17) Young 1, Keopaseuth 5, Foster 2, Daniel 16, McCoy 3, Jackson 15, Hilliard 7.