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SHEPHERDSVILLE – For 30 minutes on Friday, the Bullitt Central Cougars put forth a strong effort against visiting Holy Cross, a team that just a night earlier, had stunned ninth-ranked Pleasure Ridge Park by four points.
Unfortunately, high school basketball games last 32 minutes. The maroon and gray struggled over the last two minutes, surrendering a 44-40 lead before falling 48-46. The Cougars did not get a shot over the final 60 seconds.
“We played great, but then got sidetracked in the last two minutes,” veteran Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee said after the game. “All we had to do was handle the ball. We played a great game except for the last two minutes.
“We just don’t listen sometimes,” the coach lamented. “We can compete with a lot of teams. It was a phenomenal effort. We just have to execute better.”
Bullitt Central held the lead in the game from the time it was tied at 12-12 early in the second quarter until the last two seconds of the game.
The ‘home’ Cougars had a 39-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter and they still had a 44-40 lead after Jacob Wampler scored with just over two minutes remaining in the game. At the 90-second mark, Holy Cross got a three-pointer from Aaron Stahl. At the other end, Brett Bourland missed a shot around the basket, but teammate Colin Trent was there to tip the ball in. The ‘visiting’ Cougars then nailed their ninth three-pointer of the game, by Dominique Mack, to tie it at 46-46.
After Holy Cross called a time-out with 55 seconds to play, Bullitt Central could not handle the defensive pressure and turned it over. Holy Cross then opted to hold the ball for a final shot. Bullitt Central switched defenses during the late run, moving back to a 2-3 zone for the closing seconds.
Mack started the final run by dribbling into the lane, but when Bullitt Central converged on him, he found Stahl wide open under the basket for a lay-up.
Bullitt Central twice had inbounds plays under their own basket in the final two seconds, including once after a missed free throw, but threw the ball away both times.
“We’re just holding it too long,” Lee said after the game. “We’re not attacking the gaps. You have to attack and we just hold it.”
Holy Cross (17-5) had the nine three-pointers in the game including four in the final quarter. The Jefferson County Cougars had only five two-point baskets in the contest.
“I thought defensively we did well,” Lee said. “We overplayed them at the start. They don’t shoot it that well. We wanted to make them drive. The last drive we gave up. We just stood around.
“It was a tough loss for us,” the coach added. “I thought it was a game that we should have won. Hopefully we’ll gain experience from it and get better.”
Bullitt Central (15-6) got 16 points from Bourland and 14 from Wampler but then no other Cougar player had more than seven points.
Holy Cross finished with 15 points by Mack and 13 by Zack Schmitt.
Bullitt Central played at home earlier this week against Bullitt East. The Cougars will then play again on Thursday at Meade County before taking part in a girl/boy doubleheader on Friday against Central Hardin.
Friday at Bullitt Central
HOLY CROSS 48 (10-11-12-15) Basham 6, Mack 15, Schmitt 13, Ellis 5, Stahl 5, Ray 2, McNair 2.
BULLITT CENTRAL 46 (11-16-12-7) Chase Craddock 1, Jacob Wampler 14, Zach Humphrey 4, Brett Bourland 16, Colin Trent 4, Cameron Dukes 7.