VALLEY STATION – Bullitt East’s strong play over the final two months of the regular season was nowhere to be seen on Friday in the semi-finals of the Class Act Girls’ Sixth Region Tournament at Valley High School.
Scoring just eight points in the first half, the Lady Chargers were in a hole in which they could never recover. Battling Butler, a team they had split two earlier games this season, the red and gold could get no closer than five points in the second half before the Bearettes slowly pulled away for a 50-30 victory.
This was the fourth straight season in which Butler has ended Bullitt East’s season. Twice it has happened in the Sixth Region championship game and now twice it has ended in the semi-finals.
“We’ve been known to throw in a clunker every now and then,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said as he stood outside his teams’ dressing room after the game. “And gosh this was one of those (games).”
Since the calendar turned to 2013, Bullitt East had gone 13-3, losing only to fifth-ranked Mercy twice as well as a setback to fourth-ranked Manual. Bullitt East had done that with strong defense and a balanced offensive attack.
The defense was fine on Friday, but the offense sputtered and never got out of first gear. Bullitt East (24-8) shot just 29.4 percent for the game and that included a two for 11 performance in the first half.
It wasn’t that Butler (23-7) made any key defensive changes according to Stallings. The Bearettes had defeated the Lady Chargers 60-55 early in he season, but Bullitt East had retaliated with a 60-50 win over Butler in the first-round of the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
“We had 19 turnovers at halftime, but it wasn’t from anything that we hadn’t seen in the first two games,” the veteran coach said. “I couldn’t tell you why we struggled. It wasn’t very good.”
Even with the offensive struggles, Bullitt East stayed close with a stout defensive effort. The Lady Chargers were only down 6-5 after one quarter, but then after they scored only three points in the second frame, they found themselves down 19-8.
Butler started the second half with two free throws, but then Bullitt East went on a 10-2 surge that pulled them to within 23-18 with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Unfortunately, that momentum was short-lived. Butler answered with a 14-3 that spanned into the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach.
Any hope Bullitt East had to getting back in the game ended as Butler connected on 21 of 27 free throw attempts in the second half and the Bearettes were 25 of 33 for the game.
“I thought we just didn’t do a good job of rotating the basketball the whole night,” Stallings pointed out. “Even when we had good looks we didn’t hit the shots.
“We couldn’t ask for much better defending them,” the coach added. “We just didn’t get solid success on offense. Most of our problems were on offense.”
Bullitt East didn’t reach 30 points until Taylor Blair connected on a three-pointer in the final minute of the game. The 30 points was the lowest offensive output for the Lady Chargers this season.
No player for Bullitt East scored more than the six points turned in by Lindsey Duvall.
Butler countered with their top three players leading them in scoring. Senior Aareon Smith posted 12 points while Alexis Stallard had 11 points. Junior Danielle Lawrence finished with ten points.
The win advanced Butler to the Sixth Region Championship game that will be played on Tuesday at Valley High School. The game will be a rematch of last season’s final as they will take on Mercy.
Class ACT Girls’ Sixth Region Tournament At Valley HS Semi-finals
BULLITT EAST 30 (5-3-10-12) Emily Fryman 5, Taylor Blair 3, Courtney Pfister 3, Lindsey Duvall 6, Alyssa Peak 4, Taylor Blain 2, Mackenzie Bass 3, Kylee Willis 4.
BUTLER 50 (6-13-12-19) Alexis Stallard 11, Erica Elliott 2, Brooke Pearson 2, Danielle Lawrence 10, Aareon Smith 12, Madison Winebrenner 4, Makayla White 5, Miah Casey 2, Allison Just 2.