Late reprieve - NB and BE will play hoops

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – A winter reprieve. Sort of.

With the start of the high school basketball season just a few weeks away (Dec. 2), Bullitt County fans did get some good news in the past ten days when Bullitt East and North Bullitt announced that the two schools will play a basketball game against each other this winter.

Just over a month ago I was bemoaning the fact here that the two county rivals, who have played each other every season since 1980, would not be meeting this season. But, at the final moment, dates were found to squeeze the series into this season.

And don’t confuse the word ‘dates’ (with an ‘s’) with multiple games this winter. There will be one boys’ meeting and one girls’ contest. The reason for the ‘s’ is that the two won’t play on the same night. In fact, they actually won’t play in the same year.

Now, the North Bullitt boys will travel to Mount Washington to take on Bullitt East on Dec. 9. That is the second Monday night of the regular season.

The girls’ contest between the two schools won’t take place until 2014 when the squads clash in Mount Washington on Feb. 5. That is actually a Wednesday night.

The bad news? To get a free date, Bullitt East had to cancel one of the two planned meetings with Bullitt Central.

The bottom line? That means that over a three-month season, we will have exactly two Friday nights with boy-girl intra-county rivalry contests. Just a few years ago that number was six. That meant that about half the Friday nights during the season had intra-county games. Now, that number is two.

It was those Friday nights where 1,500 to 1,800 people would converge on one of the schools for a big night of basketball. Not now.

While this change won’t hurt the teams in the short-term, I do wonder about long-term negatives. Namely, that basketball crowds in general will lessen as there will be no carry-over from those exciting Friday night crowds and games (sometimes). With less attendance will come less interest in the community and within the schools.

In the past, with rare exceptions, you could expect the three biggest crowds of the season at each school to be the two home contests with the county-rivals plus homecoming. Now, North Bullitt and Bullitt Central will have one home game against each other along with a homecoming game. Bullitt East will have only a homecoming game on that list.

This season, North Bullitt and Bullitt Central will play each other on Friday nights. The two 23rd District rivals will meet on Dec. 13 at Bullitt Central and will then collide a month later, on Jan 10, at North Bullitt.

Bullitt Central and Bullitt East will play a boy-girl doubleheader on Feb. 11 in Shepherdsville. That is a Tuesday night.

Other than the required district contests that are used for seeding, each of the schools needs to start scheduling the intra-county games earlier in the process. Even if that means years in advance.

The culprit here? First, the splitting of Bullitt East from their two county partners in district play. Second, over the past several seasons, Bullitt East has had the mega-boys team and was looking for tougher games and tournaments. That left fewer dates for the ‘local’ games. Now, it might be somewhat reversed as Bullitt East will have a strong girls’ program over the next several years.

Third, with Bullitt East taking part in the Louisville Invitational Tournament in the past, they had to leave two separate weeks free in January for that obligation. That took two key Friday nights out of contention for boy-girl games involving Bullitt East.

There might be some movement on this front back to home-and-home series if the three schools get put back in the same district. Rumors have been rampant in recent weeks that realignment for basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer is on the horizon and will be coming down in January from the KHSAA. The scuttlebutt now is that the three schools will be together once again and out of Jefferson County (this news would not affect football, track or cross-country).

Of course, this isn’t the first time these rumors have circulated. So don’t get too excited just yet.  

Speaking of the LIT

If Bob Blackburn’s Bullitt East boys’ basketball team is good enough this season, they will earn a berth in the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

As you might recall, Bullitt East backed out of the event last January to play in a major high school tournament in Missouri. Normally, when teams backout of the LIT or if teams that aren’t invited play games during the LIT dates, the LIT committee penalizes that school with a year or two on the sidelines.

When he was still coach back in the spring, Troy Barr (now the BE athletic director) said that things had been worked out with the LIT to include Bullitt East again this season.

How did that come about I asked Barr?

“We wrote a big check,” was his only response.

The Lady Chargers will once again be eligible for the Girls’ LIT in late January.

Once again, it appears that Bullitt Central and North Bullitt will skip both events.