SHEPHERDSVILLE – After losing all five starters from the most successful season in over a decade, Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee knew that the 2012-13 season would have some rough spots.
As it turned out, there were a lot of rough spots for the Cougars as they ended up posting a 10-20 record.
Worse than the record was the fact that the Cougars were not competitive in a number of games. Bullitt East beat Bullitt Central twice by a combined 93 points and in the second meeting the maroon and gray scored just 22 points, perhaps the lowest output in the program’s 43 years of existence.
While the losses to Bullitt East could be explained away since the Chargers were the top-ranked team in the state at times during the season, the toughest losses were narrow defeats at the hand of North Bullitt. The Eagles hit a buzzer-beater to win the meeting in Shepherdsville 44-43 in December and then North Bullitt pulled out a 42-40 win a month later.
That second loss to North Bullitt once again put Bullitt Central in a tough spot for the 23rd District Tournament. The Cougars had to play on the first night, beating Evangel 54-33, but then for a second straight year saw their season end with a loss to top-seed Moore. This time the final game was a 63-49 loss.
Bullitt Central did play a lot of younger players during the season and seldom did the team have more than two seniors on the floor at the same time.
“It was not the best season, but I think we made strides,” Lee said after the season. ‘It’s tough the year after you lose nine seniors, with some of them starting for three straight seasons.”
As it turned out, Bullitt Central did not return a player that had started a varsity game.
“I think at times we were able to put it all together and showed the type team that we could become,” Lee said. “Losing that first game to North Bullitt took our momentum away.
The three seniors on the team this season were Aaron Duckett, Jake Gillard and Kevin Ford.
“The toughest thing with this group is that we struggled getting everyone on board to be selfless and work for each other,” the coach said. “They didn’t buy into what we wanted. We had a great group of kids, but we just struggled with them buying into the way we need it done.”
Duckett, Bourland and junior Zack Humphrey led the team in scoring at just over 10 points a contest. Bourland was the team’s leading rebounder at eight a game.
Bullitt Central’s junior-varsity squad won only six games, but most of the juniors in the program were playing for the varsity. That left mostly freshmen and sophomores competing with that group.
The Cougars’ freshmen team had a better season, finishing over .500. That group is strong on guards including Cameron Dukes who saw time with the varsity team. The team just does not have a lot of size.
“We finished second or three in the freshmen league,” Lee said. “We’re really excited about the freshmen group we had this year.”
Lee expects the team to be better next winter.
“I am excited about what we have coming back,” the veteran coach said. “We did lay a good foundation for the returning kids. Our best post player (Brett Bourland) will be back.”
Bullitt Central does have 6-6 Zack Martin, but he still needs to get stronger for varsity playing time.
Very few of the Bullitt Central players are competing in sports during the spring so they are already spending time in the gym and weight room and many are competing on AAU teams. The workouts will intensify after spring break.
In June, Bullitt Central will be hosting teams for scrimmages on five different dates. Lee would like to play 20 to 25 scrimmage games during the summer.
With the school year ending early, Lee will conduct his annual Youth Camps May 28-31. For the first time the coach anticipates having both morning and afternoon sessions.
Lee said that he has just about completed the schedule for next season. The team will play in a tournament at Warren East before Christmas and then be in an tournament at Nelson County the following week.
In addition, the Cougars will play both Bullitt East and North Bullitt twice next season.