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MOUNT WASHINGTON - After rolling through the first seven quarters of the high school basketball season, the Bullitt East Chargers finally faced a little adversity down the stretch on Friday against arch-rival Bullitt Central.
The highly touted Chargers pushed ahead 62-40 with the first two baskets of the final frame before Bullitt Central, behind the hot shooting of juniors Caleb Craddock and Ryan Schnellenberger, made a late run. Connecting on three consecutive three-pointers in a 90 second span, the Cougars narrowed the gap to 67-58 with over three minutes still remaining in the game.
After the second consecutive three-pointer from Schnellenberger cut the margin to nine points, Bullitt East quickly got the ball inbounds to guard Hayden Sweat. The senior drove past the Bullitt East bench as head coach Troy Barr signaled for a time-out. For reasons that even Barr admitted later he didn’t understand, the referee waved off the coach as Sweat took the ball directly to the basket for a lay-up.
Craddock did convert two free throws the next time down the floor, but that was as close as Bullitt Central would get. The Chargers scored nine of the next 11 points as they pulled away for an 86-70 victory.
“The official just waved me off,” Barr said of the play. “I thought we had a foul and he was nodding for that. I’m not sure. Maybe he knew better than me what Hayden was going to do.”
The win moved Bullitt East to 2-0 overall heading into a key Sixth Region game on Tuesday against Butler. The Chargers will go on the road for the first time this season on Friday to take on North Bullitt.
Bullitt Central making a late-run came as no surprise to Barr.
“It was a typical district game,” the Charger coach said. “There was a lot of energy in here tonight. It was about what I expected.”
Bullitt East jumped out to a 22-7 lead in the first quarter as the Cougars struggled with their shooting. The Chargers pushed that lead to 44-28 by halftime. The biggest Charger lead of the game came at 58-33 late in the third quarter before Bullitt Central scored the last seven points.
Barr pointed to the fact that both of his point guards, Trey Rakes and Cody Mattingly, were in foul trouble throughout the second half. The Chargers had to change their defense and that didn’t always work against Craddock and his teammates.
Craddock, the Bullitt Central point guard, controlled the game at certain points in the second half as he scored 33 points. Sweat finished with 33 for the Chargers.
“We had to change defenses with our two point guards with three fouls,” Barr explained. “We couldn’t press him (Craddock). We couldn’t double on him.
“We wanted to press and make it up tempo,” the coach added. “The second half we had to adjust to the way the game was called and the kids did a good job.”
Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee started five juniors in this game and was pleased with the effort. The Cougars just took too long to make the big run by shooting poorly in the first half.
“They are a great basketball team and one of the top teams in the region,” Lee said of the Chargers. “We battled them, but we missed some shots and didn’t do on defense. But, we’ll see them again.
“I’m proud of the effort,” the Cougar coach said. “We have to get some guys to step up. Caleb had his points and Ryan scored late, but we need some others to step up.”
Craddock has his 33 points that included four three-pointers. The junior scored half of Bullitt Central’s 28 points in the first half.
“He’s our best player,” Lee said. “In the first half he was the only player that came to play. He was aggressive. When he is hot like that you have to let him go.
“I think he is one of the best players in the Sixth Region and so is Hayden,” the veteran coach added. “That is good for basketball out here.”
Bullitt Central also got 13 points from Schnellenberger who had a trio of three-pointers over the final ten minutes of the game. Junior Damon Shepherd added 10 points.
Sweat had another of his sterling games as he canned four three-pointers and converted all 11 of his free throw attempts. The Chargers also got 18 points from senior center Corey Washburn along with 16 points from Rakes.
The five Bullitt East starters scored all but two of the team’s 86 points.
Bullitt Central and Bullitt East will collide again on Feb. 4 in Shepherdsville.
At Bullitt East
BULLITT CENTRAL 70 (7-21-12-30) Miciah Ocasio 4, Caleb Craddock 33, Damon Shepherd 10, Ryan Schnellenberger 10, Luke Whitmore 2, Corey Smith 8.
BULLITT EAST 86 (22-22-14-28) Trey Rakes 16, Rusty Troutman 8, Hayden Sweat 33, Brett Hatfield 2, Derek Willis 9, Corey Washburn 18.
BC Wins Saturday
There might have been a little hangover from Friday’s game on Saturday for Bullitt Central, but after trailing 17-12 in the first quarter at Bethlehem, the Cougars won each of the next three quarters and escaped Bardstown with a 47-41 victory.
On a night when the maroon and gray converted just three three-pointers, the team got 19 points from Schnellenberger and 15 from Craddock to go 2-1 on the season.
BULLITT CENTRAL 47 (12-13-13-9) Miciah Ocasio 2, Caleb Craddock 15, Damon Shepherd 4, Ryan Schnellenberger 19, Luke Whitmore 2, Jon Sullivan 5.
BETHLEHEM 41 (17-10-8-6) Phillips 9, Cooper 9, King 5, Mudd 5, Ray 10, Rogers 3.