SHEPHERDSVILLE - Knocking down nine three-pointers in the first half, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars were able to keep North Bullitt at a safe distance on Friday in the second meeting of the season between the two rivals.
Still, after Bullitt Central won 77-62, both coaches had reason to smile.
Lady Cougar head coach Bryan Bates saw his team warming up after going through a cold spell around the first of the year that resulted in five losses in six games. First-year North Bullitt head coach Amber Courtney saw her team compete much better than in the first meeting when Bullitt Central crushed her team by 36 points.
The two teams combined for 19 three-pointers in the game.
“Both teams were lighting it up from three range,” Bates said after his team made 12. “Our girls were focused. I just think it was closer because North Bullitt has improved that much.
“We hit nine (threes) in the first half,” the coach said as he shook his head. “That might be the most in a half since I’ve been here. A total of 12 are a lot of threes.”
In that first half, Bullitt Central had nine three-pointers and only four baskets from inside the arc.
While the score was much closer this time, North Bullitt really never put a great deal of pressure on the Lady Cougars after senior Logan Wood hit a pair of three-pointers to start the second quarter. That put the maroon and gray on top 26-17. Bullitt Central pushed the margin to 41-29 by halftime.
In the third quarter, the lead ballooned to as much as 25 points and it was 63-44 heading into the final frame. North Bullitt whittled the margin down to 14 points, but could get no closer.
“We actually got the ball in the basket,” Courtney said of her team that has struggled for much of the season to score against quality opponents. “Once again, Bullitt Central shot the lights out. When you hit the three with a hand in your face you are having a good night. But, we didn’t rotate every time either.”
Being competitive is a lot more fun.
“We were out of it by the end of the first quarter the first time,” Courtney recalled. “This time we had fun and played hard until the end. We never quit.”
North Bullitt is going to give up some three-pointers because they are forced to play a lot of 2-3 zone. With at least two sophomores or young players on the court at all times, they aren’t ready to guard an opponent in a man defense for an extended period of time.
“I was very proud of my team,” Courtney said.
Bullitt Central was led by junior guard Keoka Hilliard who finished with 19 points. The maroon and gray also got 15 points from Wood and 13 from Kaitlyn McKnight.
North Bullitt countered with a game-high 22 points from senior Bre Kuffner while sophomore Hunter Roeder collected 14 points. Eighth-grader Savannah Morrison finished with 11 points.
The two rivals will not meet each other again during the regular season. Bullitt Central’s only game this week will be at Atherton on Wednesday. North Bullitt will be off the first part of the week before hosting Bullitt East, the state’s 15th ranked team, on Friday at 6 p.m.
At Bullitt Central
NORTH BULLITT 62 (17-12-15-18) Bre Kuffner 22, Reba Stice 8, Savannah Morrison 11, Hunter Roeder 14, Meri Brian 4, Shelby Morrison 3.
BULLITT CENTRAL 77 (20-21-22-14) Logan Wood 15, Keoka Hilliard 19, Seaera Minyard 1, Valerie Terry 7, Rachel Farber 4, Kaitlyn McKnight 13, Ashleigh Pollard 1, Kayla Riggs 2, Kristen Collins 9, Selena Yunt 4, Cara Dukes 2.