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LOUISVILLE - When the season began, not a lot was expected of the North Bullitt Lady Eagles.
Now, a month into the season, the green and gold have a 5-5 record and a third-place trophy from the Lady Dragons' Holiday Invitational at Doss High School. In fact, if the Lady Eagles had shot free throws a little better, they might have gotten a bigger trophy out of the eight-team event.
Still, head coach Bill Robinette is pleased with the team’s performance so far as well as the improvement they have made.
“There has been a lot of positives,” the veteran coach said after the final game of the Doss event. “Our effort has gotten better. Hopefully, that will carry over to practice. We’ve gotten better as a team. Now, our schedule gets a lot tougher...quick.”
Traveling just the short distance up the road to Doss, North Bullitt got tournament play off on the right foot with a 41-34 victory over Lynn Camp, a team from eastern Kentucky.
A day later, the Lady Eagles lost for the only time in the tournament as they made just six of 20 free throws in a 53-45 loss to Doss. The green and gold rebounded to beat former Eighth Region rival Grant County 46-36 on Monday in the third-place contest.
That action left the Lady Eagles with a 5-5 mark heading into the new year. After two holiday tournaments, Robinette gave his team three days off from basketball before they were to return to the gym on Friday to prepare for the Bullitt County Challenge on Saturday where they were to meet Eastern.
“It’s been a hectic couple of weeks,” the coach said of tournaments in Carrollton and then Louisville. “We’ll let them heal up and get back in the gym on Friday to play on Saturday.”
Amazingly, in the two holiday tournaments, North Bullitt played four teams from their old Eighth Region days. It was just three years ago that North Bullitt and the other two Bullitt County teams were moved to the Sixth Region. North Bullitt posted a 2-2 record in those four games.
Against Lynn Camp in the first game of the tournament, North Bullitt never trailed after giving up the first five points of the game. Still, the Lady Eagles never had enough muscle to put the game away until the final horn sounded.
The team was down to just eight players for much of this game because of some holiday commitments and disciplinary reasons.
However, after being down 5-0 and 7-3, North Bullitt pulled even at 9-9 when Breanna Kuffner nailed a three-pointer and they went ahead for good when Kuffner hit two free throws just before the end of the first quarter. When the defense did not allow the Lady Wildcats to score for over five minutes in the second frame, the green and gold moved ahead 19-13 by halftime.
Kuffner then hit a three-pointer to open the second half. It was 27-22 entering the final frame and Lynn Camp did manage to get within 30-27 midway through the fourth quarter before North Bullitt scored eight of the next ten points as they got four points each from Kuffner and Chelsea Hoke.
As it turned out, only four Lady Eagles scored in the victory. Kuffner led the way with 17 while both Hoke and Ashley Goeing chipped in with nine points.
In this game, North Bullitt made just nine of 20 free throw chances.
The free throw numbers were more costly on Sunday in the 53-45 loss to Doss. North Bullitt made just six of 20 chances at the charity stripe. Still, the Lady Eagles were within 35-32 to start the fourth quarter.
“Two things cost us in that game,” Robinette said. “Free throw shooting and we missed several wide open lay-ups. We left several points on the floor. If we make those early it changes the game in the last three or four minutes.”
North Bullitt also lost freshman Holly White midway through the game to a sprained ankle. She could not continue and did not play the next day, but Robinette felt that she would return to action relatively quickly.
Kuffner led the Lady Eagles with 18 points while Hoke finished with 12.
In the third-place game on Monday, the game was closer than the final score. North Bullitt trailed 31-28 entering the fourth quarter before pulling ahead on two free throws by Kuffner at the 7:04 mark.
After Grant County hit a three-pointer, North Bullitt scored the next 14 points to put the game on ice. Goeing and Dilley scored back-to-back baskets to put North Bullitt up 36-34 and they never looked back.
The final count in the fourth quarter showed an 18-5 scoring advantage for North Bullitt. Other than the three-pointer 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Grant County did not score again until converting two free throws with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
Goeing had her best game of the tournament with 17 points while Hoke scored 12 points.
At the end of the tournament, Hoke, a senior, was named to the All-Tournament team at the event.
Lady Dragons Holiday Invitational
At Doss High School
NORTH BULLITT 41 (11-8-8-14) Breanna Kuffner 17, Ashley Goeing 9, Chelsea Hoke 9, Mecenzie Ellis 6.
LYNN CAMP 34 (9-4-9-12) Helton 2, Mason 2, McCreary 3, Grubb 11, McKinney 6, Napier 5, Brunette 5.
NORTH BULLITT 45 (9-15-8-13) Breanna Kuffner 18, Holly White 2, Ashley Goeing 7, Mecenzie Ellis 2, Chelsea Hoke 12, Taylor McCoy 4.
DOSS 53 (17-11-7-18) Baker 20, Evans 4, Lopes 2, Covington 20, Hester 5, Owens 2.
NORTH BULLITT 46 (14-5-12-15) Breanna Kuffner 7, Hunter Roeder 1, Ashley Goeing 17, Christina Dilley 7, Mecenzie Ellis 2, Chelsea Hoke 12.
GRANT COUNTY 36 (7-11-10-8) Gorby 4, Cope 8, Plunkett 9, Longacre 3, McClure 10, Hearn 2.