HEBRON ESTATES - After a slow start, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers found the correct gear on Friday, pulling away from arch-rival North Bullitt over the last three quarters to win 71-43.
While this has been a heated rivalry over the past few seasons, this was not expected to be a close contest. North Bullitt has won just five games this season and they were riding a seven-game losing streak.
Bullitt East on the other hand had won seven straight games and is ranked third in the powerful Sixth Region.
Under that banner, it was easy to see that the large crowd was stunned when North Bullitt led 9-8 after the first quarter. The game was still competitive when North Bullitt scored the last five points of the half to stay within 30-24.
Normalcy returned early in the second half when Bullitt East came out of the locker room with an 11-1 run. The red and gold were up 46-32 by the end of the third quarter and then slowly pulled away down the stretch including a 14-0 run to end the game.
“I just felt like we weren’t in synch,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said after his team’s 17th win of the season. “We didn’t do a lot of the we wanted to do offensively and defensively. There were some things North did that we hadn’t prepared for.”
Bullitt East just had more talent and experience once they found their rhythm.
“I was really proud of the way we came out in the second half,” Stallings aid. “We talked about some things at halftime. We didn’t make a lot of changes, but we did some good things offensively. We were able to change up our full-court looks and gave North Bullitt problems.”
North Bullitt head coach Bill Robinette was pleased with his team’s effort, but was frustrated that they reverted to some old, bad habits in the second half.
“At the beginning we handled their press well,” the veteran coach said. “Then we lost our patience like we seem to do in every game.
“They are just a very good team,” Robinette added. “You can’t make mistakes against them. They will take advantage of every mistake. We made turnovers we didn’t need to make. We need to force them to make us make turnovers, not just giving them turnovers.”
After being down 9-8 at the first stop, Bullitt East moved ahead for good on back-to-back baskets by Samantha Johnson and Kayla Thacker less than two minutes into the second quarter. The Lady Chargers appeared on the verge of blowing the game open with an 11-0 run that pushed them ahead 29-17.
That wasn’t the right time as North Bullitt got a three-pointer form Chelsea Hoke and a basket by Holly White in the final minute of the half to stay within 30-24.
Bullitt East then took the game by the horns early in the second half. Right out of the gate, the Lady Chargers got the ball to Thacker in the corner and the junior buried a three-pointer. Midway through the frame, Bullitt East was up 41-25 and headed to an eighth straight win.
Thacker led the way with a game-high 20 points as she connected on eight of ten free throw chances. The junior also had ten steals and 12 deflections. Shelby Romine added ten points to the total.
North Bullitt got it’s best offensive game in a number of weeks from Hoke as the senior led her team with 16 points including our three-pointers. Junior Breanne Kuffner tossed in 11 points.
“I’ll be the first to tell you that we’re not a finished product,” Stallings pointed out. “I really like were we are, but we’re not finished. This group has been fun to coach the past month or so.”
Amazingly, this was just the first meeting of the season between the two teams. They will play another regular season game on Friday, Feb. 13 in Mount Washington.
At North Bullitt
BULLITT EAST 71 (8-22-16-25) Jaime Simpson 7, Jessica Philpott 4, Chelsey Smith, Nikole Isabel 7, Shelby Romine 10, Jade Troutman 7, Kayle Thacker 20, Lindey Young 5, Jackie Stevens 2, Samantha Johnson 7.
NORTH BULLITT 43 (9-15-8-11) Breanne Kuffner 11, Hunder Roeder 4, Holly White 2, Ashley Goeing 5, Christina Dilley 5, Chelsea Hoke 16.
Lady Chargers Fall
Bullitt East’s eight-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday night in the final game of the Raatz Fence Classic at Mercy Academy in a 56-45 loss to Lexington Catholic.
The Lady Chargers were on the right path as they were up 37-31 entering the fourth quarter, but the offense stalled. Lexington Catholic outscored Bullitt East 25-8 over the final eight minutes.
This was the first meeting ever between the two programs. This season both squads are ranked just outside the top-20 in the computer rankings.
Thacker led Bullitt East with 15 points while Romine added 10 points to the total.
Bullitt East does not have a game early this week, but they will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Pleasure Ridge Park.
Raatz Fence Classic at Mercy Academy
BULLITT EAST 45 (15-14-8-8) Shelby Romine 10, Jaime Simpson 6, Chelsey Smith 3, Kayla Thacker 15, Samantha Johnson 4, Jessica Philpott 4, Nikole Isabel 2, Jackie Stevens 1.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC 56 (11-10-10-25) McGhee 14, Corbett 10, M. Wilson 17, G. Wilson 9, Harrison 2, Mullikan 4.