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Ill Lady Chargers falter down the stretch

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Girls' Basketball

By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - There is never a good time for a virus to run through a basketball team.

It is just a worst time when it happens just before you are to take the court against the state’s eighth-ranked team.

That was the case facing the Bullitt East Lady Chargers on Tuesday as they prepared to take on defending Sixth Region champion Butler, the team that had beaten them 48-43 in that final contest.

Well ‘preparation’ might not be the right word to use. Bullitt East pretty much had no preparation for the Bearettes. On Sunday when the team met at the school head coach Chris Stallings had only seven players in the entire program well enough to practice.

It was no better on Monday and Stallings called off practice completely. The Lady Chargers did the best they could with a walk-through just a few hours before taking the court on Tuesday.

Still, the Lady Chargers put forth a strong effort. After trailing 33-20 at halftime, the red and gold narrowed the gap to 42-35 heading into the fourth quarter. Bullitt East had one trip to the free throw line early in that final frame to get even closer, but they missed and the rest belonged to the Bearettes as favorites to repeat as regional champions rolled to a 65-42 victory in a game that was a lot closer than the final score.

“There were like 240 kids not at school today,” Stallings said of the bug going around Bullitt East.

“I am proud of the effort they gave me to represent our school,” the coach added. “We expect that, but I thought there was a lot of effort tonight.”

Bullitt East has a lot of ‘big’ games during the season, but Stallings would have liked for the situation to have been a little better for this key regional contest. The Lady Chargers were ranked second in the Sixth Region in the pre-season coaches’ poll behind Butler and were the only other team from the region ranked amongst the top 25 teams in the state at number 22.

“We’ll get better from this game, but we would have liked to have had a full day of preparation,” Stallings said. “We didn’t have that. With only the walk-through today we did well and the did a nice job trying to do some of the things we had installed.”

Still, the Butler loss came four days after a setback at home to Bullitt Central. In that game, Bullitt East had the lead midway through the fourth quarter and could not hold it.

“With maybe five minutes to go tonight we’re within six or seven points,” Stallings pointed out. “We have to find ways to get over the hump and finish the game out.

“We had done some good things and some bad things to that point,” the coach added. “This group will develop a belief they can get that job done.”

Bullitt East dug themselves a deep hole early, mainly as they struggled t get the ball over mid-court against a tight Butler press. The Lady Chargers led 6-5 three minutes into the game, but were then outscored 17-1 over the next five minutes and found themselves down 22-7 at the first break.

Butler pushed the margin to 17 points early in the second quarter before the Lady Chargers managed to back within 33-20 at halftime.

Bullitt East finally started finding the range midway through the third quarter. A three-pointer by Nikole Isabel got the Lady Chargers back within single digits with four minutes on the clock and the red and gold got within seven points when Lindey Young scored the last five points of the third quarter to make it 42-35.

But Bullitt East could get no closer. Over the final eight minutes, Butler made eight of ten shots from the field including a pair of three-pointers by Mackenzie Martinez in the first two minutes of the frame.

It was just a bad night shooting the ball for Bullitt East. They took only 31 shots and converted only 11 of those. The team made just one three-pointer in six attempts. The Lady Chargers also struggled at the free throw line, making only 19 of 35 tries.

Butler had the must hotter hand, making 24 of 45 shots in the win including six three-pointers.

Senior Meredith Polson led Bullitt East with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Young finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Isabel was the only other Lady Charger with more than four points as she had eight points in the game.

Butler was led by Heather Wheat with 18 points while Martinez collected 13 points and Cora Moore had 10.

“I think by the end of the year we can be dangerous,” Stallings concluded. “We have an inside/outside threat. By the end we’ll handle the ball better.”

Bullitt East played two games over the weekend and will be at home on Tuesday of this week against Christian Academy. That game location is a change from most early Bullitt East schedules. The game will be played in Mount Washington as a girls’ JV-varsity doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.

 

At Bullitt East

BUTLER 65 (22-11-9-23) Moore 10, Stallard 4, Lawrence 4, Snyder 2, Wheat 18, Smith 8, Bell 2, Martinez 13, Cureton 4.

BULLITT EAST 42 (7-13-15-7) Emily Fryman 4, Courtney Pfister 1, Nikole Isabel 8, Sable Logsdon 4, Meredith Polson 13, Lindey Young 10, Maggie Smith 1, Sara Stevens 1.