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MOUNT WASHINGTON Ð The Bullitt East Chargers have already proven that they can handle success this season, but they showed veteran head coach Bob Blackburn that they can also handle some adversity in the first of two holiday tournaments the squad will take part in over a ten-day period.
Playing in the FarmerÕs National Bank Ford Harrod Classic at Mercer County High School during the weekend before Christmas, the Chargers lost for the first time this season falling to Lincoln County 78-68 in the tournament quarter-finals. However, Bullitt East battled back with two strong performances to finish fifth with a 3-1 mark in a highly competitive field.
The Chargers (9-1) open the tournament with an 85-72 victory over a strong Apollo team before dropping the game to Lincoln County. BlackburnÕs team then bounced back quickly, racing past Seneca the next day to win 78-42 before closing out the tournament with an overtime victory against Boyle County 62-60.
ÒIt was a good week, but not a great week,Ó Blackburn said when the team got back to Mount Washington late on the Monday before Christmas. ÒI would like to have been in the final. We really felt like we could have been there.Ó
Blackburn felt that his team had played well against Apollo, but they didnÕt carry that over to the game against Lincoln County, a team that had already lost three times this season. Still, Lincoln County went on to beat Sixth Region power Doss 73-66 in the semi-finals before falling 81-79 to Lexington Catholic in the championship game.
ÒThey were good,Ó Blackburn said of Lincoln County. ÒThey were well coached and athletic, but we didnÕt do the things we could have done to win the game.Ó
Blackburn felt it was a good experience for his young team to play four games in four days.
ÒTo win it, we needed to win four games and to get used to winning tournaments,Ó the coach pointed out. ÒTo keep maturing as a team we learned from playing four teams with four different styles of play.Ó
In the opening game, Bullitt East got 23 points from sophomore Tyler Sharpe along with 18 from Ezra Troutman, 15 from Tyler Bacon and 14 from Rhett Troutman.
ÒWe played well against Apollo,Ó Blackburn recalled. ÒThey were very good. They were one of the best teams we have faced this season. We thought we did well. We played well in the second and third quarters.Ó
Against Apollo, Bullitt East was down 20-16 at the first break but then outscored Apollo 48-26 over the next two quarters to take control of the game. That would be a recurring theme for the team in the tournament, but not in the loss to Lincoln County.
ÒStill, with 3:30 to go we got a steal and had a chance to get within five,Ó Blackburn pointed out. ÒWe missed two shots and turned it over. We had them on their heels at that point.Ó
Still, the Chargers bounced back with a strong effort against Seneca a day later. Sharpe drained eight three-pointers and had a career high 32 points as Bullitt East rolled past Seneca 78-42. In that win, the Chargers had a 51-14 scoring edge in the two middle quarters before the lead swelled past 35 points and the clock ran constantly late in the game.
In the fourth game in as many days for the Chargers, the team closed out the tournament with an overtime win over Boyle County by a 62-60 margin. The winning bucket came when senior point guard Rhett Troutman dashed into the lane and hit a jumper with three seconds remaining.
Rhett Troutman finished with 19 points while Bacon collected 13 and Ezra Troutman had 10.
Did Blackburn learn anything about his team that he didnÕt already know?
ÒThey like Christmas music,Ó he said with a big smile.
ÒThey are a great group of ball players,Ó Blackburn added. ÒI will take them anywhere in the world. I was fortunate to spend time with them.Ó
FarmerÕs National Bank
Fort Harrod Classic
At Mercer County HS
BULLITT EAST 85 (16-25-23-21) Blake Allen 4, Rhett Troutman 14, Ezra Troutman 18, Tyler Bacon 15, Bailey Rakes 5, Tyler Sharpe 23, Jared Farris 23.
APOLLO 72 (20-11-15-26) Sergeant 14, Wright 29, Survant 6, Hopewell 3, Wells 6, Smith 3, Coomes 7, Sutherland 4.
LINCOLN COUNTY 78 (21-11-21-25) Taylor 6, Conley 21, Pittman 6, Hoover 7, Conway 34, Cornelius 4.
BULLITT EAST 68 (16-12-11-29) Rhett Troutman 30, Ezra Troutman 8, Tyler Bacon 4, Bailey Rakes 9, Tyler Sharpe 12, Jared Farris 5.
BULLITT EAST 78 (21-27-24-6) Rhett Troutman 16 Ezra Troutman 2, Tyler Bacon 1, Austin Wheeler 2, Brandon Klefot 4, Kyle McKinley 4, Bailey Rakes 10, Tyler Sharpe 32, Jared Farris 7.
SENECA 42 (20-3-11-8) Flourney 8, Bitton 2, Trotter 14, Williams 3, Vahlawaney 1, Coffey 11, Austin 3.
BULLITT EAST 62 (12-19-17-7-7) Rhett Troutman 19, Ezra Troutman 10, Tyler Bacon 13, Brandon Klefot 5, Bailey Rakes 8, Tyler Sharpe 5, Jared Farris 2.
BOYLE COUNTY 60 (9-20-18-8-5) Bell 6, Hinkle 6, Robins 7, Bean 5, Ray 9, Tyler 21, Elkins 6.