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HEBRON ESTATES – The top two teams in the 23rd District showed that it will be a dog fight for the next three months after North Bullitt needed a strong effort to finally put away arch-rival Bullitt Central 68-56 in the first of two meetings in the regular season between the programs.
North Bullitt led throughout the last three quarters, but Bullitt Central did get within two points early in the third quarter and it was still a single digit difference in the final minute of the third quarter.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Lady Eagles to start the season. Bullitt Central lost for the first time, falling to 3-1.
This was the first ‘major’ challenge for each team this season. Still, a more important meeting will come in Shepherdsville on Jan. 10 when the two teams collide again. That game is the one that will be used for the seeding for the post-season 23rd District Tournament.
North Bullitt once again got strong guard play as senior Savannah Morrison led all scorers in the game with 18 points while sophomore Katie Downey finished with 11 points. A big bonus for the green and gold was an 18 points performance off the bench from junior Megan Goeing.
“Those guards are good and we struggled with guarding them at times,” Bullitt Central head coach Kyle Roach said. “They do what they do and do it well.
“It was a good experience for us to play North Bullitt at this point,” the second-year coach said. “My girls are young and this was the first time under the bright lights. If we don’t turn it over and hit free throws, we’re right there. We missed at least ten points in lay-ups.”
Bullitt Central had ten different players score in the game and they were led by sophomore Lexi Graham who finished with 16 points. Fellow sophomore Belle Leonard was next with nine points.
“I watched them against Thomas Nelson,” North Bullitt head coach Amber Courtney said. “We knew they would play zone. We had prepared for that.
“It’s a district rival game,” the pointed out. “It will probably come down to the two of us at the end.”
The last Bullitt Central lead was at 7-6 before the Lady Eagles eased ahead 11-9 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Cougars managed to stay within 28-24 before the Lady Eagles’ Devyn Tompkins scored the last basket of the first half.
At the start of the second half, Bullitt Central got consecutive baskets from Graham, but they could never pull even. In less than two minutes, North Bullitt answered with an 11-4 run to go up 41-32. The Lady Eagles were still up 49-35 before five straight points from the Lady Cougars made it a single-digit game at 49-40 for the last time.
North Bullitt was up 51-40 entering the fourth quarter. The Lady Eagles’ biggest lead of the evening came at 61-42 before Bullitt Central fought back late to keep the score respectable.
North Bullitt did get a lot of offense out of their full-court press, especially in the first half.
“I had a little conversation with them to pick it up,” Courtney said of getting her team to be more aggressive with their press. “We wanted to play our game, not their game. We picked it up on defense and got some easy looks.
“Then we got kind of lazy in the second half with the press,” the Lady Eagle coach added. “We didn’t get back and they got some easy baskets.”
At this early point in the season, Roach didn’t ran any special defenses to try and shut down the two North Bullitt guards.
“We just wanted to play them solid,” the coach pointed out. “I wasn’t too disappointed. I just thought our turnovers and the transition hoops hurt us.”
On Friday of this week, North Bullitt will be back in action when they travel to Dixie Highway to take on Holy Cross as part of a girl/boy doubleheader. The girls’ game will start at 6 p.m.
Bullitt Central will also return to action on Friday when they play in the Salt River Electric Tournament in Taylorsville. The Lady Cougars will take on Pulaski County at 6 p.m. at the Spencer County Middle School. Bullitt Central will then play two games at Spencer County High School on Saturday.
At North Bullitt
BULLITT CENTRAL 56 (9-15-16-16) Sierra Graham 2, Breanna Richardson 5, Lexi Graham 16, Cortney Johns 7, Shelby Ross 3, Kasey Renfrow 3, D.J. Toogood 2, Belle Leonard 9, Bethany Peercy 3, Stephanie Still 6.
NORTH BULLITT 68 (11-19-21-17) Savannah Morrison 19, Maria George 6, Katie Downey 11, Erin Dolan 4, Rachel Badgett 8, Megan Goeing 18, Devyn Tompkins 2.