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SHEPHERDSVILLE - There was plenty of fun and sun for the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars just before Christmas as they headed to Florida for the KSA Classic at Walt Disney World.
The only thing missing were some victories. The Lady Cougars lost three straight games in the eight-team event against teams from the east coast.
Unfortunately, because of limited manpower, Bullitt Central head coach Bryan Bates could not collect very many statistics. In fact, he didn’t even have complete scoring for his own team.
Despite the losing record, Bates felt that his team played some of its best basketball of the season. They just were battling some of the best teams they have faced this season.
The three losses dropped Bullitt Central to 4-4 overall as they prepare to host their own Specialties for Success Bullitt Central Shoot-Out this week.
“The first two games we played, the teams from Pennsylvania and New York were the best teams we have played (this season),”Bates said. “We didn’t have Valerie (Terry who did not make the trip) and that hurt us a lot.”
It went down hill from that point. Bates has ten varsity players this season, but after not having Terry, the Lady Cougars played the last game of the tournament without starter Seaera Minyard and key reserve Kayla Riggs, leaving the team with only seven players.
Minyard came down with an illness that most of the team either had before the trip or was about to get once they got back home. Riggs suffered a minor knee injury.
Bates did say on Monday that both of those players, along with Terry, will be ready for action in this week’s tournament play.
“The first two games we played, we played well,” the coach said. “We just played against teams that were better than us.”
Action in Florida started with a 56-48 loss to Thomas Jefferson High School, a team out of western Pennsylvania. Bullitt Central scored 21 points in the first quarter, but then trailed by two points at halftime. They could get o closer in the second half.
A day later, the Lady Cougars got off to a poor start and then could not rally against Grand Island, New York. Bullitt Central was outscored 21-5 in the first quarter and could get no closer than nine points the rest of the way before losing 61-50.
Most of the team’s points in this game came from the outside as Kristen Collins collected 18 points while Riggs finished with 12 points.
“We battled in that game,” Bates said after the slow start. “They had a center and point guard that were phenomenal. Both of those players were pretty highly recruited.
“We got it back to nine or ten,” the coach added. “We just fell behind big in the first quarter. That enter was like 6-4 and could move. They were a real good team.”
The basketball part of the trip ended with a 58-45 setback to J.J. Kelly High School, a program from Virginia.
Bullitt Central only trailed 14-13 after one quarter in that game, but then fell behind 33-25 at halftime. It became a double-digit game for most of the second half.
“We couldn’t press because of the numbers,” Bates said of only have seven players. “We didn’t shoot it real well. We didn’t have any subs.”
This was the first time that Bates had taken his program out of state for a holiday tournament. The traveling party had 26 people and there were also two junior-varsity games played.
“It was a good experience for our girls,” Bates said. “It was the time some of them had ever been on a plane.
“They got to go to Disney World and Epcot and the Hollywood Studio,” the coach pointed out. “They saw things they may never see again.”
As with all high school students, there was one major disappointment on the trip. The original schedule had the girls getting to miss two days of school. As it turned out, bad weather on the Thursday and Friday before the regular Christmas break meant that the team members didn’t miss any class time.
“Overall, it was a good experience,” Bates said of something that he doesn’t plan to make a yearly event. “We’ll see if it helps us down the road. The big positive was that it was a good experience for the girls.”
The Lady Cougars opened their own tournament on Tuesday with a game against Fern Creek. This is the first time Bates has ever hosted a holiday tournament and he has some strong teams in the 8-team bracket event. The Lady Cougars will also play on Wednesday and Thursday.
The championship game is set for 7:15 on Thursday.