LOUISVILLE - Scoring the first 12 points of the game in less than three minutes, the Bullitt Central Cougars bolted out of the gate and never looked back on Monday, rolling past Evangel 75-34 in the opening game of the Boys’ 23rd District Tournament at Moore High School.
After bolting out to the quick lead, the Cougars did go the next five minutes without a basket. That really didn’t make a lot of difference as Evangel did not score its first points until just a minute remained in the first quarter, leaving the score 12-2.
In the second quarter, Bullitt Central nailed four three-pointers and scored pretty much at will as they raced out to a 36-10 lead. The second half was just an opportunity for head coach Joe Pat Lee to use all the players on his bench including two players were saw their first varsity action of the season.
“We challenged our guys in this game and the next game to defend and rebound,” Lee said after emerging from the team’s locker room after the win. “We did that tonight.
“I was proud of the defense giving up just ten points in the first half and then we held them to five in the third quarter before they hit a three late,” the coach added.
This is the season for teams to pull out all the stops to slow powerful opponents. Evangel went to a triangle-and-two defense with players chasing Ryan Schnellenberger and Damon Shepherd. That didn’t work for very long as Bullitt Central senior point guard Caleb Craddock worked his way to the basket for the first six points of the game.
Craddock ended up with 11 of the Cougars’ first 16 points and he went on to score 14 points in the win. Bullitt Central also got 18 points from Shepherd as well as ten points from Schnellenberger.
In the second half, as Lee tried to rest players for a game against Moore on Tuesday, sophomore Brett Bourland came off the bench and scored ten points in his first varsity action of the season.
The only negative for the Cougars was the fact that they converted just four of 12 shots from the free throw line.
Pulling the starters out really wasn’t a high priority according to Lee.
“It was just whenever we felt like we had a big enough lead,” the coach said. “They are 17 and 18-year old kids. They are fresh and ready to go. We haven’t practiced a lot so they are ready to go.”
Coming into this game, Bullitt Central had done very little in terms of preparation for Evangel, a team they had beaten 95-41 back in mid-December.
“We’re been preparing for Moore for about a week now,” Lee admitted. “We didn’t prepare much for Atherton or East. All our preparation has been for Moore.”
Bullitt Central was to play Moore, the state’s sixth-ranked team, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Moore.
Micah Sellinger was the top scorer for Evangel (10-16) as he totaled 12 points, the only Eagle player to post more than five points.
Monday at Moore
EVANGEL 34 (2-8-8-16) Jones 2, Brinley 3, Sellinger 12, Richmond 5, Hannah 5, Miller 3, Winstead 4.
BULLITT CENTRAL 75 (12-24-21-18) Caleb Craddock 14, Ryan Schnellenberger 10, Damon Shepherd 18, Corey Smith 2, Luke Whitmore 1, Randy Hurst 2, Josh Meredith 2, Ford 2, Aaron Duckett 8, Johnny Larison 2, Jake Gillard 4, Brett Bourland 10.
Win on Friday
Bullitt Central closed out the 2011-12 regular season on Friday with a 76-71 victory over Atherton.
It was a huge night for Schnellenberger as the senior exploded for 31 points as he tied a school record with nine three-pointers. The senior scored the Cougars’ first 17 points as he finished with 31 points in the win.
Bullitt Central finished with 14 three-pointers in the win and the team was also 16 of 19 at the foul line. The Cougars only had six players score, but they also got 17 points from Craddock, 12 from junior Aaron Duckett and 11 by Shepherd.
The Cougars pushed the lead out to 15 points midway through the fourth quarter and then let quite a bit of lead vanish down the stretch.
Andy Read paced Atherton with 23 points.
The win was the 21st of the season for Bullitt Central (or 22nd if you count the Iroquois game), the most regular season wins in 20 years.
“I’m very proud of the season we have had so far,” Lee said. “We’re 22-8 and that is the best since Jerome Hoosier’s senior season in 1992. In our minds we’re not finished yet.”
Friday at Atherton
BULLITT CENTRAL 76 (17-23-15-21) Caleb Craddock 17, Ryan Schnellenberger 31, Damon Shepherd 11, Corey Smith 3, John Sullivan 2, Aaron Duckett 12.
ATHERTON 71 (12-23-10-26) Voebac 2, Twigg 9, Read 23, Pelton 9, Mayfeild 13, West 7, Floyd 9.