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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Local basketball fans got their money’s worth and a whole lot more on Friday as Bullitt Central and North Bullitt battled for two overtimes before the Cougars pulled out a 74-70 victory.
This second meeting between the two rivals this season is the one that will be used for seeding the upcoming 24th District Tournament, but that was of little importance to Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee.
“Our kids showed a lot of resiliency,” the veteran coach said. “We played hard and battled back and got a lead and then a few times tried to give it away. There were times we had five sophomores on the floor so that is going to happen sometimes.
“We didn’t care about the district seeding part of it,” the coach added. “This game was for pride. The last time we played them they kicked our butts (NB won 74-57). We didn’t match their toughness early, but the guys battled back and at the end we did.”
This was a classic rivalry game that included a little bit of everything. In the end, Bullitt Central (5-11) finally made a series of big plays to seal the win.
The second overtime began with the score knotted at 63-63 and the two teams then matched each other with a basket and then dueling three-pointers from North’s Brandon Goeing and Central’s Miciah Ocasio. The Cougars then got a steal by Caleb Craddock and that led to a basket by Ryan Schnellenberger that put the home team up 70-68.
Bullitt Central got the ball back when North Bullitt missed a pair of free throws and the Cougars were looking to run the clock down when Schnellenberger, who was playing in only his second game in a month after a bout with mono, took a three-pointer with 40 seconds to play. The Cougars then fouled and Goeing converted both chances.
In the two previous end of time situations, it was North Bullitt that had the ball. This time, the Cougars put the ball into the hands of Craddock. As the clock ticked to :10, the sophomore point guard drove into the lane and then found Schnellenberger cutting to the basket. The pass was perfect and Schnellenberger converted the lay-up as he was fouled at :06.
The foul shot rolled off and North Bullitt got the ball to Goeing, but his shot was blocked by Schnellenberger and the ball went to Bullitt Central’s John Sullivan. He then converted two free throws with less than a second to play to account for the final score.
North Bullitt (6-8) twice had the ball at the end and had chances to win the game, but didn’t make the final pass.
It did hurt the Eagles that they played the final four minutes of regulation and the two overtimes without senior Travis Ridley who had fouled out. Ridley had scored 38 points three nights earlier against Spencer County.
“At the end we were trying to do what Bullitt Central eventually did,” North Bullitt head coach Lee Barger said. “We run the same play but call it different things. It’s four flat (players across the floor) and then we put the ball in the hands of our best player and let them go.
“We kind of forced shots and didn’t share it,” the coach explained. “At the end for them, Craddock passed it for the game winning basket.”
North Bullitt had to come to Craddock as he had already scored 31 points in the game.
“Caleb made some great plays and then he wins it passing the ball,” Lee said. “He did it mentally. When he is focused and turns that switch on, he can play with the best of them.”
Bullitt Central also got 13 points each from Schnellenberger and Damon Shepherd. Schnellenberger did not play in the first meeting between the two teams.
Goeing paced North Bullitt with 19 points and the Eagles also got 16 from Kenton Aubrey and ten from Jason Sutton.
Both teams hurt themselves by each missing 14 free throws. Bullitt Central did convert two more three-pointers, seven to five. The game had 55 fouls, but they were evenly distributed, 28-27.
North Bullitt led by as many as 12 points in the first half before Bullitt Central battled back. When the Cougars scored the first five-points of the fourth quarter, they were up 47-46. Still, North Bullitt answered with a pair of three-pointers, but they could still not shake the Cougars.
Bullitt Central tied the game at 52-52 and again at 54-54 and each time North Bullitt answered. The maroon and gray then led with 1:50 remaining on Schnellenberger’s three-pointer. Sutton made two free throws to put North Bullitt back in the lead and then Travis Stepp knotted the score at 58-58 with a free throw at :47.3.
North Bullitt held the ball for the final shot. Aubrey drove into the lane in the closing seconds and lost the ball. Stepp came out with the ball and drove to the other end of the floor but he could not draw the foul or convert the rushed lay-up.
Craddock hit a three-pointer to open the first overtime, but North Bullitt held the lead for most of the four-minute period before Craddock’s two free throws at 1:45 tied the score at 63-63. Both teams missed crucial free throws during the period including two misses by North Bullitt with a minute to play. The Cougars ran the clock down to :25 before calling a time-out.
On the inbounds play at mid-court, Bullitt Central threw it away with Aubrey calling a time-out just before he went out of bounds. The Eagles again held the ball, but this time Aubrey’s short jumper from the right of the basket spun out at the buzzer.
While the final seeding standings won’t be known for three more weeks, there is a good chance that the Cougars and Eagles will meet again in the first-round of the 24th District Tournament during the final week of February. That game would be played at Southern High School.
At Bullitt Central
NORTH BULLITT 70 (17-18-11-12-5-7) Travis Ridley 9, James Whitfill 9, Kenton Aubrey 16, Jason Sutton 10, Brandon Goeing 19, Cody Montgomery 5, Alan Crowe 2.
BULLITT CENTRAL 74 (10-16-16-16-5-11) Travis Stepp 9, Caleb Craddock 31, Corey Smith 5, Damon Shepherd 13, Ryan Schnellenberger 13, Miciah Ocasio 5, John Sullivan 3.