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HEBRON ESTATES – If high-scoring, high-octane offense is your idea of good basketball, then a North Bullitt-Bullitt Central boys’ game this season is probably not your cup of tea.
If however, you like seeing hard-nosed, competitive hoops, then you can’t beat the way the two county-rivals have slugged it out in the two regular season meetings.
In December, the two rivals scored five points in the final three seconds with North Bullitt winning on a 30-foot jumper in a 44-43 contest.
In the rematch on Friday at North Bullitt, the offenses again struggled, but the 1,500 fans in attendance got another great finish before the Eagles prevailed 42-40.
“It was still intense,” North Bullitt head coach Brian Courtney said after emerging from his team’s dressing room. “I just wish the kids would play as hard every game as they do against them (Bullitt Central). That’s an in-county rivalry for you.”
It was not a good ending for the Cougars who had numerous chances to pull ahead in the final minute only to have the offense break down at key times.
“We had every chance in the world to win this game,” Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee said after the game. “We don’t execute and we don’t listen. That’s our big thing. We’re still battling listening and character issues.”
The two rivals were tied at 31-31 entering the fourth quarter and Bullitt Central twice moved ahead by two points before it was 35-35 with 5:19 to play. North Bullitt then moved ahead for good when Jarred George hit a short jumper and senior Zac Lamkin converted two free throws.
At the 2:08 mark, Bullitt Central got back within a point when Brett Bourland hit a free throw. Lamkin then came through again with two free throws at 1:42 that made it 41-38.
North Bullitt could have pushed out to an even bigger lead, but Lamin missed the front end of the bonus with 40 seconds to play. After a time-out, Bullitt Central left the ball in the hands of point guard Jacob Wampler and he took it to the basket, scoring as the clock ticked to :26.
Again, North Bullitt missed the front end of the bonus with 21 seconds remaining. Lee didn’t call a time-out at this point and Wampler again kept the ball, getting the ball knocked out of bounds at :10.8. This time, Lee did call a time-out, but when the ball was put into play, the Cougars could not get a good shot, finally settling for an off-balance jumper by Aaron Duckett that clanged over the rim.
Lamkin then accounted for the final score when he hit one of two free throws at :02.5.
“I knew they would go to Duckett or go inside,” Courtney said of the final moments of the game. “We started out in a 2-3 zone and went man when they got it inbounds. We didn’t want the threes to go up. We just had to guard.”
Bullitt Central has struggled with offense for much of this season, but it seems to be a bigger problem in the two games against North Bullitt.
“For stretches we play really well and get the ball where it needs to go,” Lee said. “Then we have stretches where we don’t play defense and miss three or four lay-ups.”
The play that transpired after the time-out at :10.8 was nothing like what Lee had drawn up.
“It was supposed to go to (Jake) Gillard cutting inside,” Lee said. “If it wasn’t there, the we should have had a ball set. We didn’t get close to where the ball needed to go.”
North Bullitt had gotten off to a strong start behind the early offense of Lamkin who scored eight of the team’s first 12 points. That ended when Lamkin picked up his second foul and spent most of the rest of the first half on the bench.
In the first quarter, Bullitt Central answered with a trio of three-pointers from Duckett and led 13-12 before North Bullitt nudged ahead 14-13 at the first break.
Then it really got ugly. Over the first six and a half minutes of the second quarter, the only scoring in the game was three free throws by North Bullitt. Bullitt Central didn’t score until Bourland got loose inside for a basket at the 1:36 mark. Duckett later added his fourth three-pointer of the half and when Wampler scored down the stretch, the Cougars were up 20-19 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Bullitt Central twice pushed the lead to five points as Gillard scored eight points in the frame. North Bullitt then answered with back-to-back three-pointers from senior Aaron Key, the hero of the first meeting, to pull the Eagles even at 31-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Lamkin was the only Eagle player in double figures as he scored 15 points. George finished with eight points
Bullitt Central got 14 points from Duckett as well as ten from Bourland. All of Bullitt Central’s points were scored by the five starters.
The two rivals will not meet again during the regular season.
After playing one game early this week, North Bullitt has the rest of the week off. The Eagles do not play again until next Monday against Evangel at home.
Bullitt Central also played earlier this week and they will not play again until Saturday when they head to East Jessamine High School to play in a Coaches vs. Cancer event. The Cougars will play the host school at 5:30 p.m.
At North Bullitt
BULLITT CENTRAL 40 (13-7-11-9) Jacob Wampler 4, Aaron Duckett 14, Zach Humphrey 4, Jake Gillard 8, Brett Bourland 10.
NORTH BULLITT 42 (14-5-12-11) Jarred George 8, Zac Lamkin 15, Jalen Ratliff 2, Lucas Johnson 7, Aaron Key 6, Zack Gearlds 4.