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Defense powers Lady Chargers past PRP

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Girls' Basketball

By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON - On a night when the offense struggled mightily, both from the field and at the foul line, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers let their defense do the talking in a 58-33 victory over visiting Pleasure Ridge Park on Tuesday in the first game of the 2009-10 season.

The Lady Chargers allowed just five points in the first quarter and the red and gold led 27-14 at halftime before coasting to the easy victory.

Bullitt East won easily despite shooting 33 percent from the field and only 40 percent at the foul line. For the game, the Lady Chargers misfired on all 16 of their shots from beyond the three-point line.

And still they won by 25 points.

“I said before the season that we’re not a finished product yet,” veteran Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said of his 10th-ranked team.

There was plenty of defense, both full-court and half-court, to pave the way to victory.

“I thought the girls worked hard on defense,” Stallings said. “I thought for the most part we did a good job defending their dribble drive and we rebounded the misses.”

The Lady Chargers forced a lot of turnovers with their defensive pressure but did not always turn those opportunities into points.

“Defensively we did a nice job and forced a lot of turnovers off the press,” Stallings pointed out. “We have to find a way to convert those chances into points.

“We hit the boards really hard offensively and defensively,” the coach added. “We need to turn those into points also.”

Stallings was actually more disappointed in the free throw shooting than he was with the shooting from the field.

“We fought when we didn’t shoot it better,” the coach said. “It’s not like we don’t shoot it in practice. The free throw shooting was disappointing. We had been over 70 percent in the scrimmages. I thought it would be a strength and I still think it will be. Plus, I think we have better shooters than we showed.”

Bullitt East trailed just once in the game and that was when PRP’s Morgan Hart hit a three-pointer to put the Lady Panthers up 3-2. Bullitt East answered with the next 10 points and never looked back.

The Lady Chargers may have been slowed a little in finding their early offensive rhythm when senior guard Kayla Thacker went to the bench with a cut on her shooting hand. She missed the last five minutes of the first quarter before returning to action with six of her team high 17 points in the second quarter.

Really the only offense that PRP could muster to was the outside shooting of Hart, who finished with 15 points connecting on four three-pointers.

“She shot the ball better than I anticipated,” Stallings said after the game.

Hart connected on a three-pointer to start the second half and then Bullitt East reeled off 10 straight points, including three points each from Thacker and Jade Troutman. When the two seniors each got a basket in the final minute of the third quarter, the Lady Charger lead ballooned to 43-22.

Stallings used every one on his bench and all 11 of those players scored at least two points. Thacker led Bullitt East with 17 points while Troutman added 11 points.

The Lady Chargers’ final shooting numbers were 21 of 63 from the field and 16 of 40 at the foul line.

Pleasure Ridge Park, which is coached by former Bullitt Central assistant coach and Bernheim Middle School head coach Buddy Fluhr, connected on six three-pointers in the game and also made nine of 13 at the foul line. Fluhr is in his fourth season coaching at the school that he once attended.

Bullitt East played at Bullitt Central last Friday (see Wednesday’s edition for a story on that game) in the final tune-up before the big Sixth Region showdown on Tuesday of this week at Butler, the 2008 Kentucky State Champions. That game is set to start at 6 p.m. as part of a girl/boy doubleheader.

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At Bullitt East

PLEASURE RIDGE PARK 33 (5-9-8-11) Kuban 2, Murray 1, Adwell 2, Nardi 1, Hibbs 8, Hart 15, McGhee 4.

BULLITT EAST 58 (12-15-16-15) Jessica Philpott 3, Ashley Duvall 2, Nikole Isabel 2, Whitney Stansbury 2, Shelby Romine 7, Jade Troutman 11, Kayla Thacker 17, Meredith Polson 2, Lindey Young 7, Jackie Stevens 2, Samantha Johnson 3.