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LOUISVILLE-- It's not often that a Bullitt East basketball coach has to tell a Troutman to shoot the ball.
But that was exactly the case on Wednesday for the Chargers in the team's opening game in the Republic Bank Boys' Louisville Invitational Tournament at Valley High School. The Chargers were taking on the Chargers from Jefferson County, Jeffersontown High School, and when the "other" Chargers moved ahead 25-15 midway through the second quarter, Bullitt East head coach Bob Blackburn told senior point guard Rhett Troutman to keep the ball in his hands and take it to the basket.
Coming out of the time-out, Troutman twice drove to the basket from beyond the top of the arc and hit lay-ups against Jeffersontown's man-to-man defense. That started a 13-0 Bullitt East run to end the first half.
Troutman, with ten points in the first half, finished with a game-high 28 points.
ÒWe had to take what they were giving us,Ó Blackburn said after the win. ÒWe were trying to force things.
ÒFor every action there is a reaction,Ó the coach added. ÒThey were going to double the post. They were locked on us inside so we had some freedom other places.Ó
Troutman has twice won games this season for the Chargers in the closing seconds, but he had missed the previous game with a knee injury. The rest of the team struggled but finally managed to pull out a two-point win over Whitefield Academy in a district contest.
ÒRhett has been very consistent for us when he does play,Ó Blackburn noted. ÒHe had to sit out the one game. We need him.Ó
After the 13-point run over the final four minutes of the first half, Bullitt East added to the run when guards Tyler Sharpe and Troutman opened the second half with baskets to push the margin to seven points before Jeffersontown finally scored at the 5:48 mark. Seven points was then the margin at 42-35 entering the fourth quarter.
The outcome was sucked out of this game early in the final frame when Bullitt East scored the first seven points of the frame. Six of the seven points came from Troutman as he nailed a three-pointer and then converted a three-point play that made it 49-35.
From that point on, Jeffersontown was throwing up any shot when they got even a little bit of an open look. The 14-point lead was whittled down to 53-48 on a three-pointer by Brandon Johnson. That run didnÕt last long as Bullitt East answered with eight of the next nine points to seal the win.
A lot of the Bullitt East offense came from a stout defense.
ÒWe are pretty consistent on defense,Ó Blackburn said. ÒWe wanted to get them out of what they like to do. They are an excellent team. And they shoot it well.Ó
Bullitt has been just a little off recently shooting from long-range and they made just three of 14 attempts from beyond the arc in this game, but they more than made up for it around the basket as they made 20 of 30 of their two-point shots.
Even without a lot of missed shots to get, Bullitt East had a 39-28 edge on the glass against a Jeffersontown team with no starter taller than 6-2.
Where the Chargers did struggle was at the foul line where they were less than 50 percent at 13 of 27.
Besides the 28 points from Rhett Troutman, Bullitt East also got 12 points from Tyler Sharpe and 10 points by Tyler Bacon. Ezra Troutman hauled down ten rebounds while Jared Farris came off the bench to grab seven rebounds.
Jeffersontown threw up 29 three-pointers, but made just five. They were also better around the basket as they did make 14 of 26 on shots inside the arc.
The Jefferson County Chargers were led by senior Brandon Marshall with 19 points while junior Brandon Johnson collected 14 points. Daniel Williams finished with ten points.
The two 24th District rivals will meet again on Feb. 4 in Mount Washington in the final district game to be used for the seeding of the post-season tournament which will be held at Jeffersontown the last week in February.
Republic Bank BoysÕ
At Valley High School
BULLITT EAST 63 (13-15-14-21) Rhett Troutman 28, Ezra Troutman 2, Tyler Bacon 10, Jared Farris 4, Bailey Rakes 7, Tyler Sharpe 12.
JEFFERSONTOWN 54 (12-13-10-19) Marshall 19, Amos 2, Williams 10, Johnson 14, Starks 2, Stigall 2, Mercer 3, Minor 2.