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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Chris Stallings liked the pace.
Amber Courtney liked the score.
After eight minutes of play in the semifinals of the 24th District girls’ basketball tournament on Tuesday, Stallings’ Bullitt East Lady Chargers were up 14-12.
After seeing her team blown out of two prior meetings this season, Courtney was pleased with the run-and-gun offense.
In the end, however, it would be the top-seeded Bullitt East Lady Chargers who would advance to Thursday night’s championship game with a 57-35 victory.
The big turn came in the second quarter when Bullitt East had a 18-1 advantage on the scoreboard.
“I liked the way we slowed down a little on offense and got into better rhythm,” said Stallings. “Plus, we really played well on defense.”
When Savannah Morrison hit a trey with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter and Katie Downey hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Lady Eagles trailed by just a point.
Then the Lady Chargers went to work.
Lindey Young scored inside for the Lady Chargers and Emily Fryman followed with a basket. Nikole Isabel hit a trey and Young got a rebound basket off a missed free throw and was fouled.
With Morrison on the bench with two fouls, Bullitt East cranked up the defense.
Meredith Polson hit back-to-back baskets off rebounds and Rachel Broughton scored her first basket of the night with 54 seconds left. Polson scored the final basket for a 32-13 halftime lead.
North Bullitt got some offense going in the second half but it was too late.
Having the regular season success against a team with no seniors, Stallings said a coach always worries about a squad overlooking an opponent. Prior to the opening tip, Stallings said the talks centered around school tradition and school pride. And there was also a tournament game a couple of years ago when a North Bullitt team nearly upset Bullitt East.
“Our girls were pretty focused,” said Stallings. “It’s always nice to get that first district game out of the way. The post-season in Kentucky is always special.”
Even then the score was tight in the first quarter, Stallings said it wasn’t a matter of his players not hustling. Instead, it was playing a little too quickly.
For Courtney, the outcome and the margin wasn’t much different than the regular season. But she felt so much better about how her team ended its season.
“They (Bullitt East) had to work for everything they got,” said Courtney. “The girls played so hard tonight. It was probably the most aggressive we’ve been all season.”
With Young inside and a lot of talent surrounding the senior post player, Courtney said Bullitt East is hard to defend. With that in mind, she wanted up-tempo play on both ends of the court.
“We just needed to get a few more shots to fall,” said Courtney, whose team won its district opener over Fairdale the night before. “Playing two games in the district tournament is huge for these girls. This was great experience and it should help us next year.”
Bullitt East (22-8) had three players in double figures, led by Polson and Isabel, both with 12, and Young with 11.
North Bullitt (11-17) was led by Morrison with 13 and Downey with 10.
24th District Semifinals
BULLITT EAST 57 (14-18-14-11) Nikole Isabel 12, Meredith Polson 12, Lindey Young 11, Emily Fryman 8, Courtney Pfister 6, Ashley Duvall 4, Maggie Smith 2, Rachel Broughton 2
NORTH BULLITT 31 (12-1-13-9) Savannah Morrison 13, Katie Downey 10, Caitlin Montgomery 4, Maria George 3, Belle Leonard 3, Reba Stice 2