Chargers win, but North makes them earn it

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Boys' Basketball

By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – The first and only meeting between two old rivals went to Bullitt East on Monday as the Chargers turned back visiting North Bullitt 84-58 in a boys’ high school clash.


The victory continued Bullitt East’s recent winning ways against their old rivals. The victory was the 18th in a row for the red and gold and over the past dozen seasons, the Chargers have a 22-1 advantage. The last North Bullitt win over Bullitt East came on Feb. 6, 2004, by a 72-64 margin.

This one started out looking like a slam-dunk for the Chargers as they raced out to a 12-2 advantage early. Coach Bob Blackburn’s team was up 18-7 after one quarter and early in the second quarter the margin was 27-9 before the Eagles finally settled down.

Over the next quarter, North Bullitt was able to get the better of the Chargers. When Bullitt East misplayed what should have been the final shot of the half, North Bullitt got the quick reversal and got a basket from Jarred George to get within 37-29.

North Bullitt would get no closer, but it was still 43-33 midway into the third quarter before a 14-2 surge by the Chargers put the game out of reach. Bullitt East was up 58-42 heading into the final frame.

North Bullitt did get consecutive three-pointers from Ricky Dunnavan and Ryan Henson that forced Blackburn to call a time-out, but coming out of the break, Bullitt East got back-to-back threes from cousins Rhett and Ezra Troutman in front of another basket by Ezra that made it 71-48.

Because of bad weather over the weekend that forced both teams to miss games, neither team had been able to get in an organized practice leading up to this game. Still, Blackburn liked the way his team came out of the gate, but then didn’t like the final four minutes of the first half.

“We started getting away from what we intended to do and that hurt us a little bit,” the veteran coach said. “Plus, we got in foul trouble and had to change things around.”

Bullitt East played without 6-6 sophomore Jared Farris, who missed the game with an illness. That meant that the Chargers had less depth in the post and that showed when Brandon Klefot had three fouls and Tyler Bacon had two and both were sitting on the bench late in the second quarter.

“That was a large part of the time when we didn’t follow directions,” Blackburn said. “We went smaller and slower. We can’t do that, but we did.”

North Bullitt struggled early with their shooting, especially inside as they have not faced a player this season like the 6-9 Bacon. On a team with no varsity player over 6-1, the Eagles have no way to practice against that type of defense.

Still, first-year North Bullitt head coach Dick Briggs liked the way his team battled back after the slow start.

“It was good from the standpoint that we played a lot harder than we did in the first game against Henry County,” he said after the game. “We had some shots that didn’t go down early and we got down. But it was a complete turnaround from the Henry County game.

“If can continue to play with that type of intensity we’ll be fine,” Briggs added. “We’re shooting for the end of the season and the district tournament. If we continue to play like we did tonight then we’ll get better.”

Bullitt East had a 42-21 rebounding edge in the win.

“We’ve just got to bang and bang inside in practice,” Briggs said of getting better on the boards. “Most teams we’ll see don’t have that type of size.

“That was a very good team we battled with tonight,” the coach pointed out. “They might be young, but they are good.”

Bullitt East moved to 3-0 with the win while North Bullitt is now 0-2.

Besides the big advantage on the boards, Bullitt East also had a big edge shooting the ball. The Chargers converted 28 of 54 shots, while North Bullitt shot only 35 percent at 21 of 59.

Bullitt East also kept it from being any closer than it was in the second half with a remarkable night at the foul line. The Chargers converted 24 of 27 chances at the charity stripe. North Bullitt could do no better than 12 of 18 at the foul line.

All three of the misses at the line for the Chargers were by Rhett Troutman, but since he was nine of 12 the misses were normal. Rhett Troutman and Bacon each finished with 21 points while Ezra Troutman had 16 points. The Chargers also got nine rebounds from each of the Troutmans while Bacon had eight rebounds.

Rhett Troutman also handed out eight assists in the win.

North Bullitt had a balanced attack led by Dunnavan with 14 points while Zack Gearlds and Ryan Henson each had 12 points.

Bullitt East has a busy week ahead. After playing Butler on Tuesday, the Chargers will be back on the road Thursday to play Spencer County and then they will travel to Shelbyville on Saturday to take on Shelby County.

North Bullitt will not play again until Friday when they take on Bullitt Central at home. The Eagles will then play at Collegiate on Saturday night in a game rescheduled from last Saturday. That was supposed to be a girl/boy doubleheader, but since the Lady Eagles already have a game on Saturday, the game at Collegiate will be a freshman-freshman varsity evening with action starting at 5 p.m. with the boys’ varsity game at around 5:30 p.m.

At Bullitt East

NORTH BULLITT 58 (7-22-13-16) Chase McKenzie 2, Jared Free 7, Jared Higgs 4, Jarred George 7, Ricky Dunnavan 14, Zack Geralds 12, Ryan Henson 12.

BULLITT EAST 84 (18-19-21-26) Blake Allen 4, Rhett Troutman 21, Ezra Troutman 16, Tyler Bacon 21, Austin Wheeler 2, Brandon Klefot 4, Bailey Rakes 7, Tyler Sharpe 9.