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George’s 22 points fuel Eagles

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Boys' Basketball

By Mike Farner

   SHEPHERDSVILLE – New year. New coach. New Outlook.

The North Bullitt Eagles had a new-old look on Friday when they rolled into Shepherdsville to battle arch-rival Bullitt Central in a big game as far as district seeding goes for upcoming post-season play.

Once more, the Eagles had head coach Brian Courtney on the bench. Courtney, who had to leave the job in October after being named an assistant principal at North Bullitt, was back on the job with the basketball team when coach Dick Briggs was terminated by the Bullitt County Public School system two weeks earlier after an altercation with a player in a tournament at Edmonson County High School.

The move suited the Eagle players just fine as they put together a strong effort and beat Bullitt Central 57-47. That was a complete reversal of a Bullitt Central win at North Bullitt on Dec. 13 by a 58-51 count.

On Friday, North Bullitt started the game man-to-man and Bullitt Central quickly got the ball inside to Brett Bourland. He was fouled and hit the free throw. From that point, North Bullitt played zone defense, keeping Bullitt Central out of what they like to do.

Adding to the success of the Eagle zone defense was a poor shooting night for Bullitt Central (9-3). Cougar head coach Joe Pat Lee expects his team to be able to make ten three-pointers a night. In this game they made only three, a season low.

“Basically, we were looking to take Humphrey and Bourland out of their comfort zone,” Courtney said. “Brett is a double-double guy. Then Humphrey can hit the threes.

“Our guards are not very big, but their skill level is high,” the coach added. “They can get in their guys’ faces. That’s our strength. We play hard.”

The players didn’t have a lot of trouble getting back into Courtney’s style of play since they had been with him back in the summer.

“There basketball IQ is high,” the coach said. “They have adjusted well.

“We did some things we did back in the summer,” Courtney noted. “They remembered some of it. They did all the little things you need to do to be successful.

None of those three-pointers came in the first half as North Bullitt controlled the tempo which was a slow pace. After Bullitt Central lead 3-0 and 7-4, North Bullitt picked up a pair of three-pointers from the team’s only senior, Jarred George, to take the lead for good. A late basket by Dominique Ellis put the Eagles up 12-7 after one quarter.

North Bullitt (5-7) kept the ball in the hands of George at key times and that worked well. The senior scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half as the Eagles pulled out to a 27-18 lead.

In the second half, Bullitt Central did get back-to-back three-pointers from Humphrey to pull within 30-26 and the Cougars got as close as 32-29 before Ellis nailed his second three-pointer of the quarter to keep the home team at a safe distance.

North Bullitt was up 39-31 heading into the fourth quarter, and it was a ten point edge when Zack Geralds scored the first points of the final frame. Still, Bullitt Central had a final run. The Cougars scored the next seven points, including four by Bourland, to pull within 41-38. After North Bullitt’s Ricky Dunnavon connected on two free throws, Humphrey got loose for another three-pointer to make it 43-41.

But that was as close as the Eagles would let the Cougars get. Over a two-minute span, North Bullitt scored seven of the next eight points by three different players. Bullitt Central did not score again until Bourland connected with just 50 seconds remaining in the game. The Cougars did get within 52-47 with 27 seconds showing on the clock but by then it was too late.

Poor shooting kept Bullitt Central chasing North Bullitt all night.

“It was bad,” Lee said after the team’s third loss of the season. “We shot it horribly.

“North is not a bad team no matter the record,” the veteran coach added. “They have good guards. We were playing from behind the whole game. When we made a run and got closer then we would make two or three turnovers and have no rebounds.”

Bullitt Central got 19 points from Humphrey and 17 from Bourland, but only three other players scored the other 11 points.

“We have six or seven guys who we play and if they all play bad it shows,” Lee pointed out. “Brett didn’t get enough touches, but it’s tough to pass up open threes. We didn’t make any except for Humphrey.”

This was the first game the Cougars since Dec. 28 and only the team’s third game at home this season.

North Bullitt is now 1-0 in 24th District games in the seeding process while Bullitt Central is 1-1.

“Our district is competitive,” Lee noted. “On any given night all of us will be competitive. One game won’t kill us. The guys are learning. We’re 9-3. I can’t complain about that.”

Lee has coached against Courtney many times in the past so the Cougars knew that they would probably see the zone defense from the Eagles. They have worked on that in the limited practice time they had available leading up to the game.

North Bullitt got the 22 points from George, but they had seven different players score in the game. Ellis finished with 10 points while Geralds had nine points.

Both teams were in action early this week. On Thursday, North Bullitt will play at St. Francis in Jefferson County. That will be the team’s last game before they have a key 23rd District game next Tuesday at home against Southern.

Bullitt Central has a busy week ahead as they play at Collegiate on Thursday and then travel to Henry County on Friday. That will lead into a 23rd District game the following Tuesday at home against Moore.

 

At Bullitt Central

NORTH BULLITT 57 (12-15-12-18) Jared Free 4, Ryan Ewell 4, Jared Higgs 2, Jarred George 22, Ricky Dunnavon 6, Zack Geralds 9, Dominique Ellis 10.

BULLITT CENTRAL 47 (7-11-13-16) Chase Craddock 4, Zach Humphrey 19, Jacob Wampler 6, Brett Bourland 17, Cameron Dukes 1.