East avenges regular season loss to Iroquois

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2011 Boys' Sixth Region Basketball Tournament

By Mike Farner

  LOUISVILLE - Leading for the final 15 minutes of the contest, the Bullitt East Chargers picked up a hard-earned 64-59 victory over Iroquois on Monday in the first round of the Boys’ Sixth Region Tournament at Bellarmine University.

With the victory Bullitt East (26-5) moves into the regional semi-finals for the second straight season. The Chargers will return to the court on Friday at 5 p.m. when they will face Western. Pleasure Ridge Park will take on Butler in the first semi-final that day at 3:30 p.m.

The win by the Chargers avenged a 72-70 overtime loss to Iroquois (19-10) back on Jan. 4 in Louisville.

When the draw came out on Saturday, Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr knew is was going to be a tough week as all four teams in the bottom half of the bracket have been ranked in the top-20 of the state at some point during the season.

“It’s nice getting the first one,” Barr said after meeting with his team. “You knew that a team that expected to win their district at the start of the season, and didn’t (losing to Butler in the 22nd District final), would give us their best shot and they did.”

The Chargers won despite being outrebounded by 14 and struggling some at the free throw line by their own lofty standards (the team is third in the state in free throw percentage at 74.3 percent). Bullitt East made just 12 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter and were 14 of 23 for the game.

Conversely, Bullitt East shot 45 percent from the field while Iroquois was only at 36 percent. The big stat was that the Raiders made just two of 24 shots from beyond the arc.

“I had been charting their three-point shooting the last seven games and we were going to challenge them early to make those,” Barr said. “We lost them a few times early and we went to some junk defenses.”

Barr also pointed out that his team dished out eight assists against only six turnovers against an athletic Iroquois team that pressured all over the floor for most of the game and all of the fourth quarter. Charger sophomore point guard Trey Rakes only turned the ball over twice.

“They are really athletic and like to pressure the ball,” Rakes said after the game. “They are known as a pressure team. Our whole team executed well tonight.

“I’ve worked really hard to work with the ball and be strong with the ball,” the point guard added. “I’m not making the mistakes I made as a freshmen and it is paying off.”

It was certainly an iron man performance for the five Bullitt East starters. Rakes played 31 of the 32 minutes and all five of the starters played at least 27 minutes despite Derek Willis and Corey Washburn both being in foul trouble down the stretch.

In fact, all of Bullitt East’s points were scored by the starters.

Bullitt East got 19 points from Sweat along with 12 points from both Washburn and Rakes. Willis finished with 11 points while Rusty Troutman had 10 points.

With the three possible regional games slated for Monday, Friday and Monday, Barr has no worry about running out of gas.

“That’s a bonus for us,” the coach said of the regional schedule. “We did play limited subs tonight. We still have guys coming off the bench who are making contributions. We have faith in them.”

Bullitt East led 53-41 with 4:10 left in the game when Rakes drained a three-pointer. The Chargers were still on top 56-45 with 3:14 remaining when Willis went to the bench with his fourth foul. Iroquois responded with eight straight points in less than 90 seconds to cut the gap to 56-53.

The Chargers managed to stop the Raiders’ rally when Washburn nailed two free throws at the 1:47 mark. As it turned out, the final eight Bullitt East points came at the foul line.

After Iroquois missed three shots on two separate trips down the floor, Rakes knocked down a pair of free throws with just over a minute to play. Iroquois cut the gap back to 60-54 before Sweat hit two free throws. The Raiders’ Brandon Whitlock did hit a three-pointer with :16.2 seconds showing on the clock to cut the margin back to four points, but the Chargers got the ball inbounds and into the hands of Sweat who hit one free throw for the final margin.

Iroquois was led by Whitlock with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Jermaine Jackson, the defending Sixth Region Player of the Year, had 16 points. Montez Buford came off the bench to score 14 points for the Raiders.

In the first meeting between the two rivals, Iroquois bolted to an early double-digit lead and Bullitt East was playing from behind for most of the game. This time, the Chargers led 15-13 after the first quarter and 27-26 at halftime.

The final lead for the Raiders came when Whitlock scored the first basket of the second half. Bullitt East answered with back-to-back baskets from Troutman and a hoop from Washburn to take the lead for good.

“They did pretty much the same things,” Barr said of the game plan Iroquois presented. “We made some adjustments. We didn’t get a big lead early, but we weren’t down ten like we were the last time.”

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping stat of the game was that Sweat missed four of his ten free throw attempts. After the first 24 games of the season, the senior was the state’s leading free throw shooter at 89.2 percent.

Asked if he could ever remember a game in which his shooting guard missed four free throws, Barr simply said, “No, never.”


Sixth Region Tourney At Bellarmine University

First Round

IROQUOIS 59 (13-13-8-25) Jermaine Jackson 16, Ricky Kemp 6, Martell Smith 2, Jakki Hobbs 2, Brandon Whitlock 19, Montez Buford 14.

BULLITT EAST 64 (15-12-15-22) Trey Rakes 12, Rusty Troutman 10, Hayden Sweat 19, Derek Willis 11, Corey Washburn 12.