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MOUNT WASHINGTON - Yes Virginia, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers did make it home for Christmas in 2009. They just didn’t stay home very long over the holidays.
Playing in two of the top girls’ tournaments in the state, the Lady Chargers posted a 6-2 record playing in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic and then the Culver’s Lady Gator Holiday Classic in Bowling Green. The red and gold lost one game in each of the two events.
As most holiday tournaments turn out to be, it was a hectic two weeks for the Lady Chargers. For most of the season the varsity team has been dressing just ten players for games. That was stretched thin at times when before one game four players were sick and one did not play and then during the second tournament the team lost junior Meredith Polson for up to four weeks with a high ankle sprain. In addition, senior Jackie Stevens suffered a broken nose and was very limited for a handful of games.
In the Lexington event, the Lady Chargers jumped out of the gate with a 64-53 victory over Webster County, the 19th ranked team in the state in the pre-season coaches’ poll.
A day later, Bullitt East lost for the first time this season when Mercy, the 8th-ranked team in the state, knocked off the 10th-ranked Lady Chargers 66-54.
Bullitt East bounced back to close out the tournament with a 61-55 victory over Highlands and then beat Conner 60-43.
The team was then home for three days, including Christmas Day, before getting right back on a base on Dec. 26 and heading to Bowling Green for the Culver’s Lady Gator Holiday Classic.
That tournament also started well for the red and gold as they opened with a 61-36 victory over Muhlenberg County and then turned back Green County 51-41.
That set up a showdown last Monday against Marion County, the state’s top-ranked team after they had won the Republic Bank Classic title the week before. Lady Charger head coach Chris Stallings was not happy with his team’s intensity for that event and it showed in the final score as the Lady Knights rolled to a 47-27 victory.
Stallings was much happier the next day when the team got back on the court and beat Hart County 46-33 to take third-place in the 16-team event.
“It’s nice to be back home,” Stallings said of being back in Mount Washington. The Lady Chargers even played a rare home game earlier this week against defending state champion Iroquois.
Amazingly, Bullitt East plays just six games at home this season.
Bullitt East had a 10-2 record heading into the first game of 2010 with the two losses both coming to top-10 teams. In fact, the Lady Chargers will get another chance at Mercy on Saturday of this week when they meet in the final game of the Coaches for Cancer event at Cardinal Arena at 8 p.m.
All that action showed what the team needs to work on to be ready for the post-season.
“That’s what Christmas Tournaments are for is finding what you need to work on and get better,” Stallings said. “This team is determined to get better.”
Against Mercy, it was a tough battle before the Jaguars pulled away late.
“It was a good game for three quarters,” Stallings remembered. “Jade (Troutman) went down with an injury in the second quarter and she didn’t get to play (until late in the game) and that affected us. We’ve had a tendency not to start the second half of games well. It’s been our MO. They outscored us nine in the third quarter.”
Some of the players had to play through illnesses for the rest of the tourney.
“Everything else was good as we came out of it 3-1,” Stallings said. “With the illnesses we still battled. I was proud of them.”
In Bowling Green, Bullitt East ran into a very strong Marion County team that has run roughshod over the opposition to start the season, not losing through 15 games.
Stallings felt his team lost some intensity the night before in the 51-41 win over Green County and they could not get it back against Marion County.
“Our intensity was not good at all,” the coach said of the Marion County game. “We did some things this team doesn’t typically do. We just didn’t play well offensively or defensively, but especially defensively. We just weren’t very intense.
“When you play the number one team in the state you have to be intense,” Stallings added.
Bullitt East scored just four points in the second quarter of that game and were down 30-12 at the break. Marion County hit a three-pointer to open the second half, but then Bullitt East held them to just four free throws over the next seven minutes.
“The second half we played even,” Stallings pointed out. “But the damage was done in the second quarter.”
Bullitt East did bounce back with a good effort against Hart County to carry some momentum into the January portion of the schedule.
“Our girls came out focused,” Stallings said. “I liked the way we bounced back and learned from the loss. I’ve been happy with the way we have responded to adversity. I like that about this group.”
Culver’s Lady Gator Holiday Classic at Greenwood H.S.
BULLITT EAST 61 (15-18-14-14) Jessica Philpott 3, Ashley Duvall 2, Nikole Isabel 2, Shelby Romine 7, Jade Troutman 15, Kayla Thacker 12, Lindey Young 12, Jackie Stevens 4, Samantha Johnson 4.
MUHLENBURG COUNTY 36 (5-15-9-7) Reynolds 12, Salliee 5, Gunn 9, Marigay 2, Griffith 3, Gabbard 2, McDonald 3.
BULLITT EAST 51 (12-18-7-12) Jessica Philpott 2, Nikole Isabel 5, Whitney Stansbury 2, Shelby Romine 8, Jade Troutman 4, Kayla Thacker 23, Lindey Young 5, Samantha Johnson 2.
GREEN COUNTY 41 (5-7-10-19) Estes 2, R. Deaton 8, Marr 11, Butch 2, M. Deaton 4, Mitchell 14.
BULLITT EAST 27 (8-4-7-8) Ashely Duvall 1, Nikole Isabel 4, Shelby Romine 5, Jade Troutman 7, Kayla Thacker 3, Lindey Young 3, Samantha Johnson 4.
MARION COUNTY 47 (13-17-7-10) Epps 10, Roberts 7, Eiber 8, Goodin-Rogers 20, Franklin 2.
BULLITT EAST 46 (9-7-14-16) Jessica Philpott 5, Nikole Isabel 7, Whitney Stansbury 2, Shelby Romine 8, Jade Troutman 3, Kayla Thacker 18, Lindey Young 3.
HART COUNTY 33 (4-5-6-18) Leah Burd 2, Wilson 7, Trent 13, Reynolds 2, Lindsey Burd 7, Proctor 2.