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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Shaking off some early jitters, the North Bullitt Lady Eagles picked up this group’s first post-season success on Monday as they turned back Fairdale 50-39 in the opening round of the Girls’ 24th District Tournament at Bullitt Central.
With a team with no seniors, winning in the post-season is something new for this crop of Lady Eagles. That also goes for second-year head coach Amber Courtney who picked up her first win of the post-season on the bench.
“They came out and were a little tight,” Courtney said when she stepped out of what is usually the home team’s dressing room at Bullitt Central. That was familiar territory to Courtney who had played for the Lady Cougars.
“After that, we loosened up and did a good job,” the coach added. “I’m very proud of the second quarter start.”
The win moved the Lady Eagles into the tournament semi-finals on Tuesday where they were going to face top-seeded Bullitt East.
The jitters for both teams were obvious early as Fairdale managed just enough offense to move ahead 11-9 after one quarter of play. The game then turned for North Bullitt when the green and gold scored the first 13 points of the second frame. That allowed Courtney’s team to go on top 27-15 at halftime and Fairdale never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Many of the North Bullitt players this year were not even part of the squad that lost in the first round of the district tournament a year ago to Southern.
“It’s a new experience,” Courtney pointed out. “I don’t have many with the understanding it is a district tournament and that there might not be a tomorrow.”
The coach didn’t make any changes during the break before the start of the second quarter.
“They just did what we wanted to do better,” Courtney said. “They did what they were supposed to do. It was all the girls.”
During that big start to the second quarter, North Bullitt got four points each from seventh-grader Katie Downey and Caitlin Montgomery as well as three points from Maria George and two points from Savannah Morrison, a freshman.
One of the big keys for the Lady Eagles in this game was that they got strong post play from Montgomery and Kasey McCoy. Montgomery finished with a game-high 16 points while McCoy added eight points. Each of the players pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles needed that as they converted just one three-pointer in the win.
“We’ve been working hard with them,” Courtney said of developing an inside presence. We told them it was time to wake up and do what they have been able to do all year. Tonight they did it.”
North Bullitt managed to push the lead all the way out to 37-17 late in the third quarter before Fairdale answered with a pair of three-pointers. The Lady Eagles still seemed in control when it was 41-26 with 4:31 left to play, but then the Lady Bulldogs again hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the gap to nine points.
That run ended when Reba Stice connected on two-frees and when the Fairdale bench was assessed a technical foul and Downey hit both free throws, the short-lived Fairdale rally was over.
Fairdale connected on seven three-pointers in the game, but six of those came over the final nine minutes of the contest.
“We didn’t really worry,” Courtney pointed out. “We didn’t close out on a couple of shots. It was more a lack of confidence on our part. I wasn’t worried.
“I called time-out and I told them you have to keep playing no matter the score,” the coach recalled.
The only player in double-figures for the Lady Bulldogs was freshman Narissa Keown with 15 points. No other Fairdale player scored more than seven points.
North Bullitt, which had beaten Fairdale 50-41 during the regular season, improved to 11-16 with the win while Fairdale’s season ended with a 4-17 mark.
Girls’ 24th District Tournament At Bullitt Central
FAIRDALE 39 (11-4-5-19) Kortney Ashby 4, Sam Cleaver 3, Narissa Keown 15, Lakrista Toogood 7, Catlin Cleaver 2, Kia Hankey 2, Amber Alford 6.
NORTH BULLITT 50 (9-18-10-13) Savannah Morrison 10, Holly White 3, Caitlin Montgomery 16, Reba Stice 2, Katie Downey 8, Kasey McCoy 8, Maria George 3.