LOUISVILLE - Struggling through a first half in which they scored just 10 points, the new gym at Valley High School didn’t seem very inviting to the North Bullitt Eagles.
After a long halftime chat, the green and gold exploded for 39 points in the second half, including 25 in the fourth quarter, but they could not complete a strong rally as they dropped a 51-49 decision to the Vikings on Monday.
The slow starts have haunted the Eagles through the first week of the regular season, according to head coach Brian Courtney.
“We have to get off to better starts,” the second-year coach said after a long meeting with his team in the locker room after the game. “All three games we have played, we have started slowly. All three games.”
North Bullitt will now take a 1-2 record into Friday’s key 23rd District match-up at Bullitt Central. The Eagles have yet to play a game at home, something that won’t happen until Saturday when they play host to Collegiate.
This is an Eagle team that has very little experience at this point and that is why Courtney says they have started slowly in games this season.
“We don’t have a lot of experience,” the coach pointed out. “They are timid. Then when we come out of halftime ,we play better. The timid stuff goes away.”
The only good point after North Bullitt scoring just 10 points in the first half was that the defense held Valley to only 14 points.
The improved offense was made clear on the first trip down the floor to start the third quarter when senior Aaron Key nailed a three-pointer that made it a one point game. Unfortunately, that would be as close as North Bullitt would get in the second half.
Valley (2-1) answered with a burst of its own and they had a 27-18 lead before the Eagles narrowed the gap to 31-25 heading into the fourth quarter. With another quick surge, the Vikings pushed the lead to 39-27 with six minutes remaining in the game.
Again, North Bullitt made a run, scoring 11 of the next 13 points with seven of the points coming from junior Jarred George and the other four from senior Lucas Johnson. With just over a minute remaining in the game, sophomore Ricky Dunnavan connected on his only basket of the game, a three-pointer, to pull the Eagles within 45-43.
Unfortunately, between the 1:23 mark and :14.2, Valley connected on six straight free throws. The Vikings did not miss a shot at the charity stripe in the second half before two misses with less than a second remaining in the game.
Courtney used his final time-out at :16.5 after two free throws by Jonson and when Jalen Ratliff scored at :07, the Eagles could not stop the clock until the Vikings inbounded the ball.
This early in the season, Courtney isn’t doing much preparation for an opponent, more concerned with his own team.
“We are worried about ourselves,” the coach said. “But we looked like we had never seen a 2-3 zone before.
“Then we made some bad passes. Bad simple passes,” Courtney noted. “It was just bas passes going from the wing to the top of the key.”
North Bullitt had 21 turnovers in the loss.
The Eagles did get a victory three nights earlier when they traveled to Bardstown and beat Nelson County (0-2) by a 59-43 score.
George led the Eagles with 21 points as the junior connected on all four of the three-pointers that he launched.
North Bullitt led by as many as 20 points in the second half before got it within 16 points.
“It was the second half where we played well,” Courtney pointed out. “Still, I feel like we should have won all three games to this point.”
NORTH BULLITT 49 (4-6-15-24) Jarred George 13, Jalen Ratliff 4, Aaron Key 12, Lucas Johnson 14, Ricky Dunnavan 4, Jared Free 2.
VALLEY 51 (7-7-17-20) Farris 10, Mills 15, Crittenden 4, Rucker 8, Dishman 6, Terry 8.