SHEPHERDSVILLE - By his own admission, North Bullitt senior Aaron Key was having a bad game on Friday against arch-rival Bullitt Central.
How long does it take to turn around a bad game? How about :02.2?
That was the amount of time it took Key, who had not scored in the game, to take an inbounds pass near mid-court, dribble to just above the three-point line and launch a shot over his head as he was turned sideways to the basket. The shot floated through the and as the buzzer sounded it glanced off the backboard and through the net, giving the Eagles a 44-43 victory.
It had been just moments earlier that North Bullitt had committed a bad foul, putting Bullitt Central’s Jacob Wampler on the line at :02.2. The junior capped a five-point Cougar run by hitting both free throws in the bonus situation, giving the Cougars what they thought was a win.
North Bullitt called at time-out after the second free throw and set up a final play. Key made it work, but it wasn’t exactly the play head coach Brian Courtney had drawn up.
“That was like the third option,” Key said after his second celebration with fans, both on the floor following the shot and then again when he emerged from the locker room. “I just headed down court. I knew we had two seconds. I knew we had to hurry up. It’s just crazy.”
This was just Key’s fourth game in a green and gold uniform. He had transferred to North Bullitt from Moore last year, but had not been cleared to play until this season.
“I’ve never hit a shot like that,” the senior said. “This was my first year playing since I was a freshman.
“I thought we had lost it,” Key said of Wampler’s two free throws. “I was heartbroken. We came back to win but I don’t want to live like that.”
Courtney went from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in a blink of an eye.
“We drew it up two ways,” the second-year head coach said. “If Bullitt Central went man we wanted to go long. In a zone, we wanted them to catch it and go. We just wanted to catch it and attack the basket.”
Bullitt Central led in the game 38-27 after scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter. The final three-pointer came from Ken Dockery with 4:54 remaining in the game. However, over the next three minutes, North Bullitt scored 14 straight points including seven points by senior Lucas Johnson who had been on the bench for much of the two previous quarters after getting three quick fouls.
North Bullitt now led 41-38 when Bullitt Central called a time-out at 1:35. North Bullitt missed a free throw after the break and then the Cougars ran a play that freed up senior Aaron Duckett for a three-pointer that knotted the score with a minute to play.
North Bullitt ran the clock down to 14 seconds when Courtney called a time-out. The Eagles worked a shot for leading scorer Jarred George, but hit effort bounced off the rim and out of bounds to the Cougars at :06. In less than two seconds, Bullitt Central turned the ball over and then North Bullitt was called for an illegal screen on an inbounds play.
Bullitt Central got another chance at an inbounds play and this time it went to Wampler and as he turned up the court, was fouled by George in front of his own bench, 50-feet from the basket.
“I think Jarred thought we had a foul to give,” Courtney said. “It’s his first year in these situations. It wasn’t something we talked about (during the time-out).”
The contest certainly had an exciting finish, but it was not a well-played game by either team. The two young squads are both struggling to find any type of consistency on offense.
“It was sloppy and we made tons of mistakes,” Courtney said. “We forced turnovers and then turned it back over. That’s understandable on both sides. We’re both young and inexperienced.”
Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee understood pretty much the same thing.
“We didn’t lose the game at the end,” the veteran coach said. “We lost it when we were up 11 points and we went hay-wire handling the ball. It should have been over.
“I hate it for the kids because they played solid and they had the game won before the end,” Lee added. “We didn’t protect the ball at the end. It’s inexperience. The kids are making strikes and getting better. I can’t fault the effort.”
George was the only Eagle player in double-figures as he scored 16 points. Johnson scored nine points including the seven points in the fourth quarter.
Bullitt Central got 15 points from junior center Brett Bourland. Wampler and Duckett each had seven points.
The two rivals will meet again on Jan. 11 at North Bullitt.
At Bullitt Central
NORTH BULLITT 44 (8-9-10-17) Jarred George 16, Jalen Ratliff 4, Aaron Key 3, Zac Lamkin 3, Lucas Johnson 9, Ricky Dunnavan 3, Zack Gearlds 2, Jared Free 4.
BULLITT CENTRAL 43 (10-13-8-12) Jacob Wampler 7, Aaron Duckett 7, Zach Humphrey 3, Jake Gillard 6, Brett Bourland 15, Ken Dockery 5.
After the emotion exerted on Friday, even Courtney knew that his team would have trouble bouncing back on Saturday for the team’s first home game of the season against Collegiate.
The Eagles were outscored 20-9 over the first eight minutes of the game and they could never recover as they dropped a 59-40 decision to the visitors.
North Bullitt (2-3) got 13 points from George and 10 from Ratliff, but no other Eagle player scored more than six points.
Collegiate (4-1) was paced by Andrew Steggerman who scored 19 points.
The Eagles played Thomas Nelson High School on Tuesday of this week and they will be on the road on Friday to take on Sixth Region rival Holy Cross. The Eagles also have a Saturday game against Metcalf County. That program will start at 3 p.m. with the junior-varsity contest with the varsity game starting at around 4:30 p.m.
At North Bullitt
COLLEGIATE 59 (20-11-12-16) McAnulty 6, White 2, Dick 3, Kommor 4, Prerellis 11, Steggerman 19, Walter 4, Powell 3, Keyer 7.
NORTH BULLITT 40 (9-11-8-12) Jarred George 13, Jalen Ratliff 10, Zac Lamkin 4, Ricky Dunnavan 5, Zack Gearlds 2, Jared Free 6.