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Bruins 'avenge' early season loss to struggling BE

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By Mike Farner

    LOUISVILLE - There is never a good time to play a bad game.
    But there are few worse times to play a bad game than in the quarter-finals of the Boys' Louisville Invitational Tournament against a powerful Ballard squad that was seeking revenge for a 73-66 loss to Bullitt East in the consolation game of the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Tournament at Fairdale before Christmas.
    Ballard was looking to avenge what had been the only loss to a Kentucky team up to this point (the Bruins would lose on Saturday morning to Moore in the semi-finals of the LIT) as well as making a point after Bullitt East had the number two seed for the tournament while Ballard had mysteriously been seeded in the number seven spot.
    (In the first Associated Press poll of the season, Ballard was ranked second to Trinity while Bullitt East was third).
    In the end, the Bruins wanted it more than the Chargers according to Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr after his team suffered a 73-55 drubbing.
    "It's like I just told the guys in there (the locker room), we didn't show up," Barr said. "You could see that in the free throws and rebounding. We let them shoot until they hit it."
    Over the years, Barr has been on both sides of the 'revenge' type games.
    "I don't think it's so much a let down, but the other team gets up for revenge games," Barr pointed out. "When you play tough teams it will happen.
    "They were motivated after the King of the Bluegrass," the coach added. "Our kids didn't understand how motivated they were."
    While Ballard was stronger on the boards, the Bruins didn't need a lot of rebounds in the first half as they connected on 13 of their 22 shots (59 percent), including hitting six of 11 from beyond the arc as they built a 44-28 halftime advantage.
    Ballard had a 15-5 lead midway through the first quarter before Barr called a time-out, but Bullitt East battled back to within 17-12 at the end of the first quarter. The Chargers got even closer when Rusty Troutman's three-pointer from the corner made it 20-17 early in the second quarter.
    Over the next two minutes, the game turned to Ballard. The Bruins got back-to-back three-pointers from Lavonne Holland and Zach Cagging before Derek Willis picked up his third foul with 4:02 remaining in the half. That helped push Ballard to its 44-28 lead at halftime.
    In the third quarter, Bullitt East scored the first three points of the half and had chances to cut deeper into the margin before Ballard started finding the range again. Still, when Willis connected on two free throws with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter to cap a 7-0 surge, the Chargers were within 53-43.
    Ballard worked the clock down for a final shot and they passed up some good looks to get the ball to sophomore Quentin Snider at the top of the circle. The University of Louisville commitment drained the three-pointer and the Bruins had all the momentum again.
    Bullitt East did not have 6-6 junior Elliot Young who is out for the season with a stress fracture in his back. He had played in the first meeting and helped off-set Ballard's big front line of 6-8 Aaron Murray and 6-7 Kelan Martin.
    The Chargers were well under-sized when Willis went to the bench with the foul problems in the first half and the most misleading stat of the tournament was that Ballard only had a 39-36 rebounding advantage in the game. Willis only had two points in the first half and then played tentatively in the second half, finishing with a season low seven points and only six rebounds.
    "Obviously, it changes what we do," Barr said of Willis being on the bench. "He's a shot-blocker and our top rebounder and scorer. You take those three things away and it shows."
    Bullitt East (14-3) did get 18 points and ten rebounds from junior Rusty Troutman, but no other Charger player had more than seven points or six rebounds. The red and gold shot only 39 percent for the game including 20 percent from beyond the arc.
    Ballard (13-5) finished with 20 points from Holland and 15 by Martin who also had eight rebounds.
    While the two teams have already met twice this season, they will play for a third time on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Ballard.
Boys' Louisville
Invitational Tournament
At Bellarmine University
Quarter-Finals
    BALLARD 73 (17-27-12-17)
Bobby Schiavone 3, Kelan Martin 15, Quentin Snider 8, David Martin 7, Dontez Byrd 3, Jalen Perry 2, Braxton Dunbar 3, Lavonne Holland 20, Rijad Kovacevic 2, Zach Cagging 5, Aaron Murray 5.
    BULLITT EAST 55 (12-16-15-12) Luke Francke 4, Trey Rakes 7, Rusty Troutman 18, Rhett Troutman 5, Kory Caufield 6, Chris Embry 6, Derek Willis 7, Ezra Troutman 2.