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MOUNT WASHINGTON – An eight point lead early in the fourth quarter was not enough for the Bullitt East Chargers on Tuesday as they opened the 2008-09 season with a 50-47 loss to visiting Franklin County.
It was a top-flight battle between two of the area’s top teams. Franklin County was ranked 19th in the state in one pre-season coaches’ poll and either second or third in the always-tough 11th Region.
That was the reason that Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr was not upset with the outcome. The Chargers played hard and they also played without 6-6 center Willie Moore who sat for one game for an unspecified personal reason.
“It was good and bad,” the veteran coach said after the game. “That’s the first game of the season. You will never be perfect at this stage. Our team played hard and with a lot of heart. They did everything we wanted defensively.”
Barr was especially happy with the three-point defense on the Flyers.
“We stressed guarding the three-point line and they were 0-5,” the coach pointed out. “You can’t ask for more except a few more points and those we didn’t get.”
Still, Bullitt East led for much of the game. The Chargers were up 12-10 at the first break and pushed the margin to 25-17 late in the first half before it was 27-20 at halftime.
The Chargers then got the first basket of the second half when Tyler Payne scored, but then Franklin County scored eight straight points. Bullitt East answered with a three-pointer from Hayden Sweat and a basket by Adam Kelty to jump on top 34-28.
The margin then went to eight points when Tyler Downs scored the first basket of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, that was the high water mark for the Chargers. Franklin County scored eight straight points before tipping in a basket for the Chargers.
Franklin County’s first lead since the first quarter came with 2:37 remaining when Ryan Conner converted a three point play. After another Flyer basket, Tyler Payne knotted the score at 43-43 with a three-pointer with 1:56 remaining.
The visitors then answered with a basket by Barrett Meyer and a free throw by Vance Hall as the clock ticked under one minute. When Hall hit two free throws at :27.5, the Flyers were up 48-43.
Bullitt East twice missed shots with Franklin County grabbing the rebound. Finally, Adam Kelty hit two free throws at :09.9, but then Vance hit two more free throws to seal the victory.
“I’m pleased with the way we executed the game plan,” Barr noted. “Franklin County might be one of the better three point shooting teams in the state.
“I thought the scoring would be higher,” the coach added. “It was a fun game to coach and watch.”
Kelty was the Chargers’ leading scorer with 18 points while Payne added ten points to the mix.
The Chargers made all ten of their free throws, but were just 16 of 37 shooting from the field. The red and gold were also outrebounded 33-17 including giving up 19 offensive rebounds to the Flyers.
Franklin County had trouble shooting also, finishing 18 of 45 from the field and only 14 of 22 at the foul line. They did have balanced scoring with Hall finishing with 11 points and Devon Hicks with 10.
At Bullitt East
FRANKLIN COUNTY 50 (10-10-8-22) Jemels 2, Hicks 10, Conner 5, Rivers 1, Burton 4, Hall 11, Meyer 8, Donovan 5, Watkins 4.
BULLITT EAST 47 (12-15-7-13) Adam Kelty 18, Tyler Downs 7, Hayden Sweat 3, Brandon Alphin 2, Grant Polson 5, Tyler Payne 10, Corey Washburn 2.
Lady Chargers Roll
Despite some early season illnesses and injuries, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers opened the season last Monday with a 90-53 romp over Fern Creek.
This was a varsity only contest, but that didn’t really matter as most of the Bullitt East junior-varsity players saw a lot of court time as the red and gold scored 52 points in the second half.
“We were pleased with the way that our team played,” head coach Chris Stallings said a few days later. “We showed up and were ready to play.
“We had a rugged second quarter, then we refocused and pulled away,” the coach added. “I really liked the way everybody came off the bench and were ready to play and were intense.”
Bullitt East jumped on top 22-10 in the first quarter and pushed the margin to 17 points by halftime despite only making three field goals. Most of the damage was done at the foul line. The second half was just a glorified scrimmage.
“That was a run way to start the season,” Stallings said of a schedule that will get much tougher down the road. “We had some experience back and that helped.”
Bullitt East got 20 points from Kayla Thacker and another 12 from Shelby Romine, the team’s two most experienced players. Off the bench, Lindey Young tossed in 15 points while Nikole Isabel had 11 points in their first varsity games ever.
At Fern Creek
BULLITT EAST 90 (22-16-25-27) Jamie Simpson 4, Chelsey Smith 2, Nikole Isabel 11, Whitney Stansbury 7, Shelby Romine 12, Kayla Thacker 20, Meredith Polson 3, Lindey Young 15, Kelli Cunningham 6, Jackie Stevens 7, Samantha Johnson 2.
FERN CREEK 53 (10-11-15-17) Reid 1, Moore 5, Higgins 1, Grigsby 7, Bernard 20, Phife 4, Bongo 9, Smith 3, McCune 2.