SHIVLEY – Despite finishing the first half on a 13-3 run to take the lead, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers could not continue that performance in the second half on Tuesday, dropping a 78-65 decision to Butler in a game of young and talented teams.
In the pre-season, the Sixth Region coaches tabbed Butler as the favorite with Bullitt East second. The state coaches ranked Butler seventh in the state while the Lady Chargers stood 22nd.
Bullitt East did what they wanted to do in the first half, get the ball into the hands of senior Taylor Blain and freshman Lindsey Duvall. The pair combined for 23 points over the first 16 minutes and the pair worked together to score six points in the late run.
That all changed in the second half as Butler held the pair to no baskets and only two free throws from Duvall.
“We were just talking about that,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said after walking out of his team’s locker room after the game. “I thought we stood around a lot in the third quarter. We came out of the locker room and didn’t handle it well.
“We didn’t have the ball movement or pace that we need,” the veteran coach added. “We slowed down and we can’t do that.”
Duvall scored 18 points but 16 of those came in the first half. Blain had only seven points.
“They did a good job staying out on Blain,” Stallings said. “She has to learn from it and move more.
“Lindsey had five shots in the second half,” the coach noted. “She has to take more shots than that.”
The two teams combined to put ten freshmen on the floor on the game – six for Butler and four for Bullitt East. The young players are familiar with each other as they competed against each other in the middle school ranks including last year’s Kentucky State Tournament, an event won by Eastside Middle School.
But in this game, Bullitt East could not slow down Butler freshman Jaelynn Penn who led all scorers in the game with 24 points. The Bearettes also got 16 points from senior Danielle Lawrence, the pre-season number one player in the Sixth Region, a spot ahead of Duvall.
Bullitt East answered with 18 points from senior guard Emily Fryman while freshman Raegan Williams collected 14 points.
After being down 29-21 with 3:03 remaining in the first half, Bullitt East scored 13 straight points including a three-pointer by Fryman and four free throws by Williams as well as two baskets from Duvall. Still, the half ended with Butler freshman Fontasia Jeffries nailing a three-pointer, leaving the Lady Chargers with a 34-32 lead.
At the start of the second half, Butler scored the first six points of th frame and they never trailed again. The Bearettes led 54-45 entering the fourth quarter and Bullitt East did make a run, scoring eight of the first ten points of the final frame to get within 56-53 at the 5:53 mark, but they could get no closer. A three-pointer by Fryman at 3:10 made it 63-57 before a steal by Bullitt East and a basket from freshman Kirstie Henn made it a four point contest at 2:59.
Bullitt East would get no closer, mainly because Butler hit 16 of 20 free throw chances in the final quarter.
This was only the second game of the season for the Lady Chargers who had a contest with Manual the previous Saturday pushed back to January because of bad weather. This game was moved back a day because of bad weather on Tuesday. Butler had played two games already.
“I’m not worried about who we have played or when we play,” Stallings said. “I think we were ready.
“We have to work harder on defense,” he added. “78 points is a lot of points to give up no matter the level of competition. We have to focus on that and not let teams slow us down.”
Bullitt East has another schedule change this week as a game scheduled for Monday against Western had to be rescheduled at Western’s request. That game will now be played on Jan. 14. The Lady Chargers will play on Thursday of this week when they travel to Martha Layne Collins High School. On Saturday, Bullitt East will open play in their own Vision First Tournament, an eight-team event that will conclude on Monday.
BULLITT EAST 65 (17-17-11-20) Emily Fryman 18, Courtney Pfister 2, Lindsey Duvall 18, Kirstie Henn 3, Taylor Blain 7, Mackenzie Bass 3, Raegan Williams 14.
BUTLER 78 (21-11-22-24) Jeffries 9, Bowden 8, Lawrence 16, Penn 24, Goodlett 6, Winebrenner 3, Casey 5, Lewis 2, Just 5.