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Game plan solid, execution isn’t in boys’ semis

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23rd District Basketball Tournament

By Thomas Barr

 HEBRON ESTATES – Two coaches. Two teams. Same game plan.

Both Joe Pat Lee of Bullitt Central and Brian Courtney of North Bullitt faced similar situations in the semifinal round of the 23rd District basketball tournament.

Their teams were facing very athletic, tall foes who liked to run.

As a result, the game plan was to control the tempo and to limit the opponents’ possessions.

While the game plan was good, the execution wasn’t as both Bullitt County teams were sent home without a regional berth.

Bullitt Central 

At the only spot in which Lee felt his team had a physical advantage, the plan was to slow things down and make sure center Brett Bourland touched the ball as often as possible.

The big junior center was the workhorse for the Cougar attack.

Unfortunately, a brotherly duo at the guard spots was too much for the fourth seed to overcome.

The fast-paced Mustangs advanced to the final game with a 63-49 victory over Bullitt Central.

Like the regular season encounter, the game was closer than the final margin might indicate.

“Our effort was tremendous the whole game,” said Lee. “We again went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the Sixth Region. I am so proud of our guys.”

Moore, which ran its record to 22-7, had no answer for Bourland inside.

He muscled his way to five points in the first quarter en route to a 20-point night.

Unfortunately, a stretch in the second quarter spelled doom for the Cougars.

Down just 9-8, Jaelin Sanford hit a pair of treys and three other field goals in a three-minute stretch.

The Mustangs outscored Bullitt Central 28-17 in the second quarter. During that eight-minute period, Jaelin Sanford scored 17 of his 22 points. His brother, Jamon had the other 11 points, en route to a game-high 23 points.

“They are so quick,” Lee said of the backcourt duo. “If we miss a shot or even if we make one, they are racing to the other end.”

Zack Humphrey’s three-pointer just before intermission narrowed the margin to 13 at 37-24.

Jake Gillard’s three-pointer with 2:18 left in the third period got the Cougars to within 41-34. That would be as close as the contest would get.

“We had two short stretches that things got out of hand,” said Lee, whose team ended the season at 10-20. “We just gave up too many easy baskets.”

But the veteran coach couldn’t have been more pleased with his team.

“All you can do is ask your guys to give every single ounce of sweat they have,” said Lee. “Our guys left everything out on the court.”

It was the final game for Aaron Duckett, Kevin Ford and Gillard.

Bourland was named to the All-District tournament team.

At North Bullitt

BULLITT CENTRAL 49 (7-17-13-12) Brett Bourland 20, Aaron Duckett 12, Jacob Wampler 6, Jake Gillard 5, Zack Humphrey 3, Kevin Ford 3

MOORE 63 (9-28-11-15) Jamon Sanford 23, Jaelin Sanford 22, James Yates 8, Justin Richardson 4, Cameron Fries 3, Trae Scott 2, Trey Drake 1

North Bullitt

When you run the motion offense and hold the ball for just the right shot, you have to convert.

While Courtney was very pleased with the effort and with selecting the right time to take the shot, his Eagles were unable to capitalize on their opportunities and fell 54-31 to Southern.

“You have got to make every shot count,” said Courtney, whose squad ended the season at 13-16.

And when offense is difficult in a normal situation, coming back from double-digit deficits is that much more challenging.

“We had the opportunities early in the game,” said Courtney. “We just couldn’t hit the shots. We had a lot of open shots.”

Part of that inability to shoot may come from facing a much taller Trojan squad which was physical and challenged any shot toward the rim.

“We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds but it’s hard to box out when you’re 3-4 inches smaller at every position,” said Courtney. “The effort was there and we tried to box them out. It’s just difficult to do for the whole game.”

The motion offense worked to perfection on the opening play. After running the offense for over a minute, freshman Jared Free worked open for a layup. That would be North Bullitt’s only lead of the night.

Trying to take away the inside game, Southern came out hot from beyond the arc. Deon Yelder, Kyle Dewboys and Randell Pickett all hit three-pointers to make it 9-3.

Taking that away, Yelder would score on a tip on consecutive plays and Catalon Carlos scored on a rebound.

The romp was on.

Down 22-11 at intermission, Southern came out strong in the third quarter, taking the ball inside to score or get fouled.

In the second half, the lead hovered around the 20-point mark.

Ricky Dunnavan and Lucas Johnson led the Eagles with eight points each. 

For North Bullitt, it was the last game for seniors Justin Clayton, Aaron Key, Jalin Ratliff, Johnson and Zac Lamkin.

Johnson earned All-District tourney honors.

At North Bullitt

NORTH BULLITT (6-5-8-12) 31 – Ricky Dunnavan 8, Lucas Johnson 8, Zac Lamkin 6, Jared Free 3, Zack Gearlds 2, Camden Davenport 2, Chase McKenzie 1, Jarred George 1

SOUTHERN 54 (11-11-17-15) Catalon Carlos 14, Randell Pickett 12, Deon Yelder 9, Dantrelle Bell 9, Kyle Dewboys 6, Josh Burdick 2, Kelly 2