Chargers get the season started on the right foot

-A A +A

Breeden’s Tates Creek squad is no match for BE 77-50

By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - A journey of many steps got off on the right foot on Monday as the Bullitt East Chargers opened the 2011-2012 campaign with a 77-50 victory over visiting Tates Creek on Monday.


Bullitt East started the game with 6-foot-6 Elliott Young and then 6-9 Derek Willis draining three-pointers and the red and gold were on top 21-14 after one frame. The Chargers then scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to take control of the contest.

Tates Creek is coached by Wayne Breeden, a 1979 Bullitt Central graduate who grew up in Mount Washington. The veteran coach, who led both Ashland and Owensboro High Schools to the Kentucky State Tournament and whose 24-5 team defeated top-ranked Eastern last season, knows a good team when he sees it.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the Chargers and what coach (Troy) Barr did with this group,” Breeden said after the game. “They are better than the team I saw on film from last year.

“I was real impressed with the team play,” the visiting coach added. “I know everybody talks about (Derek) Willis, but they did an excellent job of team ball. They turned us over numerous times with their defense.”

Bullitt East forced the Commodores into 24 turnovers. After the game, Barr said that the Chargers have spent much of the pre-season practice time working on being a dominant defensive team.

“I feel good enough about our skills on offense, that we can spend more time on defense,” Barr pointed out. “I know that defense wins championships. It’s still something that has to be developed.”

As with all high school teams, the Chargers will be even better as the season progresses. That has to be a scary thought to opposing coaches after they see the video of this game.

“We’ll take that effort,” Barr said. “The effort was better than the execution on offense or defense. The effort overshadowed some of our faults tonight.”

Tates Creek reached the semi-finals of the 11th Region Tournament last season under Breeden.

“That is a good team we beat tonight,” Barr said. “They will always be well coached with Wayne there. I saw them lead Scott County (the pre-season number three team in the state, one step ahead of Bullitt East) on film from last week. I’ll take this win every time.”

Bullitt East shot 55 percent for the game from the field including making nine of their 18 shots from beyond the arc.

While Willis and Rusty Troutman get a lot of attention for the Chargers, it was Young that had the breakout game in the opener as he led all scorers with 21 points. The 6-6 junior played almost no varsity minutes last season and he wasn’t even penciled into the starting line-up by Barr until the last few weeks.

“He showed why we inserted him into the starting line-up,” Barr said. “Reese (Hardin) had been there, but the last few weeks Elliot has blossomed. We have seen that in practice. We knew what he is capable of doing.”

Willis finished with 18 points while Troutman collected 16 points. Both of the juniors had six rebounds. Willis, the pre-season number one player in the state, also blocked six shots and when both of the team’s point guards, Trey Rakes and Luke Francke, picked up early fouls, Willis even ran the team at times.

If there was a negative for Bullitt East in this game it was the fact that they were outrebounded 27 to 25.

“When you trap in the half-court like we are doing, you are going to give up some rebounds,” Barr pointed out. “We have to learn to rotate better. We’ll work on that in practice.” 

Breeden might have preferred facing the Chargers a little later in the season. His team has only one senior who has varsity experience and they lost six seniors from last season’s team.

“We’re just babies right now,” Breeden said. “This was a good experience for us. We’ll come back and we play Henry Clay on Thursday and they are the most athletic team in the state and that includes Ballard.” 

Tates Creek was led by Darius Gibson with 11 points.

Bullitt East will be back in action on Friday when they play host to Bullitt Central. The girls’ game is set for 6 p.m. with the boys’ game to follow.

Second Scrimmage

Two days before taking on Tates Creek, Bullitt East traveled into far eastern Kentucky to Sheldon Clark High School for a scrimmage showcase. The Chargers were in the highlighted event as they took on Trinity, the state’s top-ranked team in the pre-season.

It was a contest worthy of the hype despite the fact that the two teams, 30-minutes apart locally, each drove four hours to play each other.

“They should be ranked number one,” Barr said. “They are athletic and long like us. It was back and forth all game. We won by about six at the end. It was a good effort.”

Bullitt East and Trinity do not play during the regular season, although, both schools tried to work out a date and at one point thought they had one. Trinity is not in the King of the Bluegrass this season like Bullitt East. The only chance they could meet in the regular season would come in the Louisville Invitational Tournament in mid-January.

End of an Era

At the start of the second half of Monday’s game against Tates Creek, Bullitt East took a moment to honor public address announcer Mitchell Smith who is stepping down after 15 years of working Charger hoops events.

Smith had both a son and a daughter who played for the red and gold and he has long been a supporter of Bullitt East athletics. Barr presented Smith with a plaque thanking him for his many years of service to the school.

Ricky Troutman, who has been doing football announcing the past two years, will now take over the basketball duties full-time.