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MOUNT WASHINGTON - No opposing coach knows the Bullitt East Lady Chargers better than veteran Bullitt Central mentor Bryan Bates.
Bates knows one thing for sure - the Lady Chargers are a very good basketball team.
That is why with a week between games for his team, Bates opted to try something a little different in Friday’s second meeting of the season between the two local rivals. Instead of trying to play at the pace that both teams probably prefer - uptempo - Bates opted to slow the game down - way down.
Bullitt Central didn’t exactly put the game on ice, but they became very deliberate, often holding the ball for more than a minute in the first half before taking a shot.
For a while the plan worked well. Bullitt Central led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and the maroon and gray only trailed 15-12 at halftime.
Still, even in a slow-down you have to score and Bullitt Central didn’t do enough of that. Bullitt East outscored the Lady Cougars 10-3 in the third quarter and then exploded for 25 points over the final eight minute en route to a 50-24 victory.
The victory assured Bullitt East (21-3) of the top seed in the 24th District tournament in two weeks.
Bates will be the first to admit that a slow-down style is not playing to the best of is team’s talent. He also knows that trying to keep up with the state’s 15th ranked team isn’t something his team has been able to do the past two seasons.
“We were trying to shorten the game,” Bates said. “We didn’t want to shoot it very much. We did that in the first half. They only took 12 shots in the first half.
“In the second half they shot it 24 times and had a lot of offensive rebounds,” the coach added. “They pressured us into some mistakes. They are a great team.”
Playing one of the state’s toughest schedules this season, the Lady Chargers have seen a lot of different styles of play. Still, Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said that his team had not seen that type of slow pace this season. The coach also said it caught him a little off-guard.
“We’ve seen a lot of different styles this season,” the coach said. “That’s the first time someone has tried to spread us out like that.
“I just thought we did a good job of weathering the storm,” Stallings added. “We made good adjustments at halftime. I thought the girls did a nice job of closing down a few things defensively. Offensively we got in a good rhythm and got some good looks. They did a good job carrying over what we talked about at halftime.”
Bullitt East scored the first six points of the third quarter to take control of the contest. Bullitt Central’s only basket of the frame came at the 2:15 mark when Kaitlyn McKnight connected on a three-pointer. Bullitt East went on to lead 25-15 entering the fourth quarter.
Bullitt Central (11-11) scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, by Carra Dukes, but then Bullitt East went on a 17-1 surge that made the final score a little misleading. Five different players scored for Bullitt East during that run five points from Jessica Philpott and four points each from seniors Shelby Romine and Samantha Johnson.
For the second straight game, Bullitt East played without All-State guard Kayla Thacker who is nursing a back injury suffered in practice a week earlier. The senior was on the bench for this game, but was not dressed to play.
At Bullitt East
BULLITT CENTRAL 24 (7-5-3-9) Keoka Hilliard 2, Valerie Terry 4, Kaitlyn McKnight 13, Ashleigh Pollard 1, Kayla Riggs 2, Carra Dukes 2.
BULLITT EAST 50 (6-9-10-25) Taylor Price 2, Ashley Duvall 2, Nikole Isabel 2, Shelby Romine 6, Jade Troutman 10, Lindey Young 7, Jackie Stevens 4, Samantha Johnson 10, Jessica Philpott 7.