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MOUNT WASHINGTON - For the second time this season, the Bullitt East Chargers went on the road and again the road hit back as the red and gold dropped the opening game in the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Missouri.
Bullitt East did bounce back to win the next two games to capture fifth in the eight-team event that included two of the top-25 teams in the country according to USA Today.
That action left Bullitt East with a 17-4 record overall. Three of the losses have come to foes from outside Kentucky and each of the three losses has come in the semi-finals or earlier of the three major tournaments that the team has entered this season.
The good news is that the Chargers do not travel outside of Kentucky the rest of this season and do not have a game against a foe from outside the state’s boundaries.
What did become apparent against the top-flight competition was that Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr stuck with his starters. In fact, in all three games of the tournament, Bullitt East got scoring from no more than six players. In each of the three contest, Rhett Troutman was the only player off the bench to log double-digit minutes in court time.
After flying to Springfield for the event contested at the JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University, Bullitt East got a rude welcome as they were defeated by Nixa (Missori) 62-53.
Derek Willis led the Chargers with 17 points as he played all 32 minutes in the contest. Rusty Troutman added 15 points including a trio of three-pointers.
In the consolation bracket, the Chargers got back on the winning track as they defeated Little Rock Hall, a team from Arkansas. The game was tied at halftime before the Chargers pulled away in the second half.
Elliott Young paced the Chargers with 20 points and seven rebounds while Willis had 19 points and nine rebounds.
In the fifth-place game on Saturday, Bullitt East picked up an overtime win as they defeated Hillcrest (Missouri) 59-55. The Chargers had to rally from a 10-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to force overtime and then win.
Willis led the way with 27 points and eight rebounds. Both Troutman and Trey Rakes added 12 points.
Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions at Springfield, Mo.
BULLITT EAST 52 (14-8-11-20) Elliott Young 6, Derek Willis 17, Trey Rakes 11, Rusty Troutman 15, Hunter Noffsinger 1, Rhett Troutman 3.
NIXA (Missouri) 62 (9-14-19-20) Dulin 10, Norman 15, J. Ruder 7, A. Ruder 13, Hocklander 17.
BULLITT EAST 68 (14-17-14-23) Rusty Troutman 14, Elliott Young 20, Derek Willis 19, Trey Rakes 9, Hunter Noffsinger 4, Chris Embry 2.
LITTLE ROCK HALL (Arkansas) 58 (14-17-10-17) James 2, Owens 9, Portis 18, Perry 12, Gulley 5, Black 7, Daily 2, Artis 3.
BULLITT EAST 59 (13-9-7-21-9) Rusty Troutman 12, Elliott Young 1, Derek Willis 27, Trey Rakes 12, Hunter Noffsinger 6, Rhett Troutman 1.
HILLCREST (Missouri) 55 (13-16-10-11-5) Hardy 13, Petry 12, Johnson 13, McIntosh 6, Whitaker 10, Hill 1.