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SHEPHERDSVILLE – Unlike some spots, there comes a time in a basketball game where the players have to make players and the coaches sit quietly on the sidelines.
For the past month, Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee has been preaching that someone on his team has to step forward and make plays that will lead to a victory.
Finally, on Tuesday, in front of a large homecoming crowd, the Cougars got just that from senior Jacob Wampler, who scored the go ahead basket with 10 seconds remaining and then made a smart defensive play at :03.3 that helped Bullitt Central beat Thomas Nelson 53-52.
It was an important win for Bullitt Central (16-8) as they snapped a three-game losing streak. Two of those three losses had come by a combined five points.
“Our effort from the kids tonight was tremendous,” Lee said after the game. “That was especially true in the second half. We challenged them in the second half and they did it.”
Bullitt Central had lost to Thomas Nelson 81-58 in the first game of the season, but the teams have taken divergent directions since then. The Cougars played without senior Brett Bourland in the first game and he played in the rematch. In addition, Thomas Nelson dismissed their best player during the season and have not reached their pre-season expectations.
Still, the Generals are a good team. They led 16-14 after one quarter and it was 24-16 at halftime after the Cougars managed to score just two points in the second quarter. Bullitt Central cut that margin to 38-35 entering the fourth quarter and they tied it 12 seconds into the frame when sophomore Chase Craddock drained a three-pointer, the first of two he had in the fourth quarter.
After Bullitt Central went ahead 40-38 on Bourland’s basket, the game went back and fourth with the Cougars having a 50-47 advantage just inside the two minute mark. At 1:25, Thomas Nelson got a basket, but Bullitt Central answered with two free throws from Zack Humphrey. Again, Thomas Nelson scored on a basket by Mason Flechler and after Bourland missed two free throws, the Generals went up went A.J. Youngman, the son of the coach, got loose inside.
Bullitt Central called a time-out with 23 seconds remaining, but Lee didn’t want the team waiting for a final shot as they were down by a point. He didn’t even draw up a play, instead giving the players a set of options.
It was Wampler who took the initiative, driving from outside the three-point arc all the way down the lane and to the basket for a lay-up with 10 seconds to play. Thomas Nelson did not call a time-out, getting the ball up the court to Youngman and he was fouled by Wampler at :03.3.
It was a smart foul as the Cougars were not yet in the bonus.
After both teams called time-outs, the ball came inbounds to Youngman who may have had a shot from long range. Instead, he put the ball on the floor and was looking to drive on Wampler when Humphrey slid over and knocked the ball loose, ending the game.
“We didn’t draw anything up,” Lee said later. “We talked about some plays we thought would be open. In that zone they were in a lot of things are open. That is a senior going and making the play.
“Our seniors really stepped up in the second half,” the coach added. “That’s great to do that on Senior Night. I’m was very proud of those guys.”
Bullitt Central got 48 points from its seniors. In fact, the two three-pointers by Craddock were the only points not scored by seniors in the game for the Cougars. Humphrey led the way with 18 points while Wampler had 16 and Bourland 12.
Youngman paced Thomas Nelson with 17 points.
Tuesday at Bullitt Central
THOMAS NELSON 52 (16-8-14-14) Morgerson 15, Ndahiro 6, Youngman 17, Willett 8, Price 3, Flechler 4.
BULLITT CENTRAL 53 (14-2-19-18) Jacob Wampler 16, Zach Humphrey 18, Brett Bourland 12, Zach Martin 2, Chase Craddock 6.
Monday at Meade County
BULLITT CENTRAL 56 (15-13-26-2) Cameron Dukes 7, Jacob Wampler 3, Zach Humphrey 20, Brett Bourland 16, Roy Crable 10.
MEADE COUNTY 59 (15-20-11-13) Wilson 2, Bewley 3, Hacket 6, Wilson 7, Mattingly 5, Millay 16, Durbin 10, Wilson 8, Jenkins 2.