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LOUISVILLE - Nothing has come easy so far in the 2010 post-season for the Bullitt East Chargers, but that sure does make it taste sweet when the ‘W’ is finally secured.
That was the case for the third straight game on Monday as the red and gold won a boys’ Sixth Region Tournament contest for the first time in school history after two previous tries. It took an overtime, but the Chargers turned back Valley 45-42 in the fourth and final opening round game.
The victory moves Bullitt East into Friday’s semi-finals where it will take on Butler, a team that needed three overtimes to turn back Shawnee 84-76 in the game before the Chargers’ took the court. Bullitt East defeated Butler 62-58 back on Dec. 8.
Bullitt East won on grit and determination as well as staying even with the Vikings on the boards. The Chargers struggled shooting the ball both from the field (39 percent) and at the free throw line (64 percent) as well as committing five more turnovers. The Chargers, one of the state’s top 10 free throw shooting teams this season, missed five free throws in overtime.
Valley shot the ball well early but then cooled off. Perhaps the most telling stat of the game was that the 21st District runners-up missed 12 of 20 free throw attempts.
“I just told them that it doesn’t matter how ugly or pretty the game was, we get to play another day,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said after the game. “Now we get to see what happens on Friday.
“I was extremely proud of the kids,” the veteran coach added. “They did a great job. To be the first team from Bullitt East to get a win in the Sixth Region is good and they were the first to win the district. So that is two for two in goals so far.”
Bullitt East won despite an ‘off’ night from Hayden Sweat. The junior did not score in the first half, but did bounce back to tally 12 points after halftime. That total included the only three points scored in the overtime period.
“I didn’t tell him anything at halftime,” Barr said. “I told my assistants that he had not scored and we were tied so we were in good shape.
“It is no secret that he is playing on two bad wheels right now,” the coach pointed out of the team’s leading scorer this season. “He had a sprained ankle and then sprained the other against Fairdale. Obviously, the first half warmed him up and then he played better.”
After the game was tied at 42-42 when Valley got a three-pointer from Malcolm Thomas with ten seconds remaining, neither team was anxious to challenge the other early in the overtime. Valley won the opening tip but over the first two minutes of the four minute extra period, Valley took just one shot and at the other end, Bullitt East turned the ball over.
Finally, Valley took a shot and on the rebound Nate Williams was fouled with 1:39 remaining. Williams missed both of the free throws in the double bonus. Valley then fouled Sweat at 1:17. Sweat, the state’s leading foul shooter this season, made the first, but missed the second. The Vikings remained cold as Larry Mimms’ shot in the lane rolled out. Bullitt East rebounded and then Valley fouled Trey Rakes at :48.4.
Rakes missed both chances, but then the Vikings’ hoisted up an air ball that bounced out of bounds. On the inbounds play at :29.9, the ball went to Rusty Troutman, but Valley knocked it out of bounds at :25.8. Bullitt East then did the smart thing and got the ball directly inbounds to Sweat and he was fouled at :23.4
This time there were no misses as Sweat connected on both shots to extend the lead to 45-42. Valley opted for the drive to the basket and at :12.9 center Corey Washburn committed his fifth foul when he bumped the Vikings’ Brandon Thompson. The poor free throw shooting continued as Thompson missed both chances with Bullitt East’s Chase Troutman grabbing the rebound. Troutman could not seal the deal at :10.7 as he missed both tries.
Twice in the final ten seconds Chase Troutman knocked the ball out of bounds, forcing Valley to start again. The final inbounds play came at :04.8 and Kevin Farris missed the final three-point attempt.
“To miss five free throws like that in overtime is unusual for us,” Barr noted. “Sometimes our inexperience and youth comes into play.”
Early in the game it looked like Valley would shoot Bullitt East out of the gym. The Vikings connected on four three pointers in the first quarter and led 18-11. Valley stretched that to 22-13 early in the second quarter before the Chargers closed out the first half with a 9-0 run that was fueled by seven points off the bench from Kory Caufield including a banked-in three-pointer at the buzzer from 25-feet out.
“That was not typical of them,” Barr said of the outside shooting by the Vikings. “I charted their last ten games and they were only averaging about three a game and in some games had none. We were more worried about them driving to the basket.”
From that point, the lead was never more than six points. That came when Valley was up 29-23. Sweat then got his first points, a three point play, with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter.
The game was tied at 32-32 entering the fourth quarter and Valley was still up 39-38 when Mimms hit one of two free throws with 1:41 remaining. Bullitt East called a time-out at 1:13 and then ran a nice play to free Washburn up inside for two points at 1:02.
Valley ran some time off the clock before Thompson missed a shot. Sweat grabbed the lose ball before Barr called a time-out. The ball came in to Sweat and he was quickly fouled at :21.1 The junior sank both attempts to make it 42-39.
The Vikings didn’t wait, getting the ball into the corner where Malcolm Thomas was closely guarded by Rusty Troutman, but he put up the shot that hit nothing but net to force the overtime.
“He just hit a tough shot,” Barr said later. “You have to live with that and go on. Good thing it wasn’t for a game-winning situation.”
Sweat, who did make a three-pointer, led Bullitt East with 12 points while Chase Troutman added 11 points. Troutman also has a huge game on the bounds with a game-high 14.
Both Johnson and Mimms scored 11 points for Valley.
Boys’ Sixth Region Tournament at Bellarmine
BULLITT EAST 45 (11-11-10-10-3) Rusty Troutman 7, Hayden Sweat 12, Kory Caufield 7, Chase Troutman 11, Corey Washburn 8.
VALLEY 42 (Jordon Johnson 11, Brandon Thompson 7, Nate Williams 8, Jamal Curry 2, Malcolm Thomas 3, Larry Mimms 11.