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MOUNT WASHINGTON - The Bullitt East Lady Chargers were in the neighborhood on Saturday, but they couldn’t grab the gold ring as the 2011 regular season came to a close with a 69-55 setback to Sacred Heart, the state’s fifth-ranked team.
The Lady Chargers stayed within striking distance for much of the game, but could just not make a big run to put any pressure on the Valkyries down the stretch.
Still, it was a strong closing effort for Bullitt East before they open play on Tuesday in the semi-finals of the Girls’ 24th District Tournament at Bullitt Central. The Lady Chargers will play at 6 p.m. against the winner of the North Bullitt-Fairdale game from the night before.
“I thought we had a really nice effort,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said his team fell to 21-8 for the regular season. “Coach (Donna) Moir and I have finished a lot of years (facing each other) and it’s about even.
“I don’t think you can go wrong playing a quality opponent at the end of the season,” the coach added. “I was proud of the effort. Our execution could have been better at times, especially in the third quarter. We didn’t attack at times or make good decisions.”
The game was Senior Night at Bullitt East. Before the game, the school honored the four seniors on the team - Lindey Young, Meredith Polson, Whitney Stansbury as well as Jessica Philpott who had not played this season because of a knee injury.
At the start of the game, Sacred Heart won an uncontested jump ball and was allowed a lay-up. Bullitt East then took the ball out and threw the ball to Philpott who was standing under the basket. Philpott then hit her shot to give her one basket for her senior season.
A year ago at Sacred Heart, the opposite happened for a pair of Valkyrie players.
The three other Bullitt East seniors accounted for 30 of the team’s points including 17 by Young and 10 from Polson.
“They did do a nice job,” Stallings said of his seniors on an emotional night. “They know that when you play a team the caliber of Sacred Heart that they had to be ready to play.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” the coach added. “They went through a lot early and then had to refocus when Jessica got hurt. I’ve been proud of their performance both on and off the court.”
Sacred Heart (21-5) presents one of the state’s toughest presses, something that has short-circutied the Lady Chargers at times this season. The red and gold showed that they are ready to handle that in the post-season as they had just 20 turnovers, only three more than Sacred Heart.
In fact, the statistics were a lot closer than the final score. Bullitt East had a 28-25 rebounding advantage and had ten steals to just seven for the visitors. The Lady Chargers even took five more shots from the field.
The difference came in the shooting percentages. Sacred Heart connected on 22 of 41 shots (53.7 percent) while Bullitt East was only 18 of 46 (39.1 percent). The visitors also hit on 21 of 27 from the foul line while Bullitt East was only 16 of 21.
Bullitt East only trailed 18-16 after the first quarter, but then fell behind 32-23 in the second quarter before pulling back to within 34-27 at halftime. Sacred Heart pushed out to a 50-36 lead in the third quarter and had leads of 16- and 17-points early in the fourth frame. The Lady Chargers scrambled back to within 57-46 with 5:10 remaining on a three-pointer play by junior Nikole Isabel, but could get no closer.
Isabel shared scoring honors for the Lady Chargers with Young with 17 points.
Sacred Heart got 50 points from three starters. Maddie Peabody finished with 18 points while Hannah Washle collected 17 points and Monica McGreal had 15 points.
At Bullitt East
SACRED HEART 69 (18-16-16-19) Peabody 18, McGreal 15, Washle 17, Merriweather 11, Campbell 3, Clemons 5.
BULLITT EAST 55 (16-11-9-19) Jessica Philpott 2, Ashley Duvall 3, Nikole Isabel 17, Whitney Stansbury 3, Taylor Blain 3, Meredith Polson 10, Lindey Young 17.