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Chargers need strong fourth to beat Fern Creek

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2013 24th District Tournament at Fern Creek

By Mike Farner

 FERN CREEK – Just Win Baby!

That is the mantra of high school basketball coaches when the post-season kicks into gear.

On Friday, that was the tune that Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr was singing as his top-ranked team in the state picked up an ugly 48-33 victory over Fern Creek in the championship game of the Boys’ 24th District Tournament on the Tigers’ home floor.

The 48-point output was the lowest this season by the Chargers within the state of Kentucky. It didn’t matter as a strong defensive effort kept Bullitt East ahead by at least six points throughout the second half.

“We won. That’s all I’m concerned about right now,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said after emerging from the locker room. “I could care less about the score right now.”

The win was the fourth straight title for Bullitt East at the district level, meaning that senior starters Rusty Troutman and Trey Rakes went 8-0 in district play during their careers.

“We didn’t come out and play well tonight on offense, but the defense was good with 33 points,” Troutman said the day after being named the Sixth Region Player of the Year. “We had more turnovers than we expected. We got the win and that is all that matters.”

Bullitt East senior Derek Willis, who joined the program as a sophomore, thought that Friday’s win was the toughest of his three titles.

“I think this was the hardest district game I’ve had since I got here,” the 6-9 forward said. “I didn’t expect them to play like that. They were scrappy.”

This really was an odd situation all around. Fern Creek finished the regular season with a 5-23 mark, the worst record of any team in the Sixth Region. The Tigers came into the post-season with six straight losses and setbacks in nine of their last 10 games. During the regular season, Bullitt East had beaten them 60-40 just two days after flying back from their tournament in Missouri.

But coach Deandre Layfield’s team got two key players back late in the season. That suddenly made a long and athletic Tigers’ team competitive and they started the post-season with a 91-84 victory over Jeffersontown.

“They were a different team, totally,” Barr said. “they scored 91 the other night and 33 tonight. That’s the number thing you look at.”

On Friday, Fern Creek was a challenge for Bullitt East. The Chargers never trailed in the game and the only tie was at 2-2, but the red and gold never led by more than the final score and that was only because Fern Creek scored only three points in the fourth quarter.

One of the Tiger players who did not play in the first meeting was guard Shawn Best. When he drained a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter, his second of the game, Fern Creek was within 36-30.

Neither team scored in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. Finally, for one of the few times in the game, the Chargers ran a play that worked well, getting the ball into the hands of Troutman who drained a three-pointer at the 6:16 mark. That opened the floodgates for the Chargers. Willis scored the next three points before Rakes hit a free throw. Fern Creek’s only basket for the final quarter then came on a three-pointer by Dean Wemberley, the other player who didn’t play in the first meeting.

That only made it a 10-point margin. Bullitt East then scored the final five points of the game at the foul line to seal the win.

The final stat sheet for Bullitt East looked strange.

First, Fern Creek took 30 more shots than Bullitt East (62-32), but the Tigers made one less shot (14-13). Bullitt East had a big edge at the foul line, converting 17 of 23 attempts while Fern Creek was only three of five.

“They made 13 of 62 and scored 33 points,” Barr said. “They took bad shots and we made them take bad shots.”

Second, Bullitt East had only four players score in the contest. Willis finished with 25 points and ten rebounds while Troutman had 14 points and ten rebounds. The only other points were five by Trey Rakes while Ezra Troutman came off the bench to score four points.

Bullitt East did have a 36-29 rebounding edge.

The Chargers now advance to the Sixth Region Tournament where they will have a game on Tuesday at Valley High School. Three more wins and Bullitt East will win a third straight regional title and a trip to the state tournament.

“It will take three good games,” Barr said. “We’ve won 13 in a row so we are capable.”   

Boys’ 24th

District Tournament

At Fern Creek HS

Championship Game

FERN CREEK 33 (9-7-14-3) Shawn Best 6, Marti White 2, Alex Avery 9, Dean Wemberley 7, Joe Jackson 9.

BULLITT EAST 48 (13-10-13-12) Trey Rakes 5, Rusty Troutman 14, Derek Willis 25, Ezra Troutman 4.

Quick Start for BE

Raining down 13 three-pointers, Bullitt East got the 2013 post-season off to a strong start as they rolled over Whitefield Academy in the opening game of the Boys’ 24th District Tournament on Wednesday.

Despite the lopsided 78-41 final score, Bullitt East only led 21-16 when the Wildcats scored the first five points of the second quarter. In the blink of an eye, the Chargers scored 18 straight points and the rest of the game was just for fun.

By halftime, Bullitt East had a 49-22 lead as Charger standout Derek Willis had 22 points. In the second half, back-to-back three-pointers by Tyler Sharpe and then a hoop by Derek Jones pushed the red and gold ahead by the required 35points to keep the close running continuously for the final 11 minutes of the contest.

Bullitt East and Whitefield Academy did not play during the regular season. This was the first meeting between the two schools since last year’s opening round game in the district tournament that the Chargers won easily.

Coach Troy Barr’s team just needed a little boost when the Wildcats got within five points early in the second half.

“I just think the intensity level at that point when up a notch,” Barr noted. “It’s an elimination game, so you will get the best out of your opposition. When they cut it close, our guys just got together and played harder.”

Willis, who got blood on his jersey from a bloody nose, was forced to change jerseys and he finished the game wearing number 20. That didn’t change much as the University of Kentucky signee led all scorers in the game with 24 points. The Chargers also got 15 points from Sharpe, all on three-pointers, while Rusty Troutman collected 13 points.

Andrew Patterson paced Whitefield Academy (9-20) with 15 points.

Boys’ 24th

District Tournament

At Fern Creek HS

Semi-Finals

WHITEFIELD ACADEMY 41 (11-11-5-14) Daily 5, Atkinson 6, Getzin 2, Patterson 15, Jackson 8, Buse 2, Ramey 3.

BULLITT EAST 78 (21-28-15-14) Tyler Sharpe 15, Trey Rakes 7, Rusty Troutman 13, Rhett Troutman 2, Austin Colvin 2, Derek Jones 2, Austin Wheeler 6, Elliott Young 3, Chris Embry 2, Derek Willis 24, Tyler Bacon 2