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Quick start (9-0) is more than enough as Lady Cougars roll

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By Mike Farner

    SHEPHERDSVILLE - Scoring the first nine points of the game, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars were off to the races on Tuesday in the opening game of the 2010-11 season.
    Coach Bryan Bates’ team never trailed in the game against Fifth Region rival Bethlehem as they rolled to a 75-40 victory.
    Bullitt Central didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but they got the pace up to a high-speed that left the Banshees flat-footed. The pace took the air out of the visitors as they connected on just six of 27 shots in the second half.
    “It’s good to win the first one,” Bates said after the game in his office. “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.”
    It was a total team effort for the Lady Cougars. The squad dressed just nine players for the game and all nine of those players scored at least one basket. Bates was at times substituting at a feverish pace as the ball kept going up and down the court.
    “We want the pace to be fast,” the coach said of a team this season with no player over 5-10. “We want organized chaos when we play. We want the other team to play a speed they don’t like.”
    That was obviously the case on Tuesday. Bullitt Central was in their element with the offensive fireworks.
    “We did that at times,” Bates said of getting the speed of the game up to their liking. “They made some shots, especially in the first half.
    “We had some good runs,” the coach added. “They made it close in the first half and then we hit some shots right before halftime. We had a good run there and then pushed it out.”
    After the quick 9-0 start by the Lady Cougars, Bethlehem did score the next two baskets. The Bullitt Central lead was 14-6 after Kristen Collins hit a three-pointer, but the Banshees scored the last five points of the quarter to cut the gap to 14-11.
    That was actually as close as the visitors would get. Bullitt Central connected on five three-pointers in the second quarter. The biggest positive in that stat was that all five of the three-pointers were made by a different player.
    Selena Yunt had a three-pointer to start the second quarter and when Kaitlyn McKnight and Ashleigh Pollard hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the quarter, Bullitt Central had a 27-16 lead. The Banshees had a short 6-2 run just before halftime to cut the margin to 33-24 but over the final minute of the half, the Lady Cougars got back-to-back three-pointers from Seaera Minyard and Keoka Hilliard and a basket by McKnight to stretch the margin to 41-24.
    Bullitt Central kept up the onslaught in the second half as the team’s first three baskets came on three-pointers by Pollard, Minyard and Hilliard. Bullitt Central finished the game making 10 of their 31 shots from beyond the arc.
    The third quarter lead grew to 59-32 before the Lady Cougars coasted to the final 75-40 victory.
    The overall shooting numbers were not strong, but the Lady Cougars forced 34 deflections and the offense handed out 20 assists including six by Hilliard, who is already the program’s leader in career assists.
    Bullitt Central also converted on five of 16 free throw chances.
    “We did not shoot the ball well,” Bates noted. “Still, our shooting was poor and we still scored over 70 points, so that is encouraging. We shot 30 percent on threes and 30 percent on free throws.”
    Minyard, who scored 14 points in the first half, led all scorers in the game with 17. The Lady Cougars also got 13 points from McKnight along with 12 by Hilliard and 11 by Pollard.
    Shawn Zoellers was the leading scorer for Bethlehem with 11 points.
    After playing at Bullitt East on Friday, the Lady Cougars will head to Dixie Highway on Tuesday for a key Sixth Region showdown with Holy Cross, a team that was ranked fourth in the region in the pre-season coaches’ poll. Bullitt Central was tabbed in the seventh spot.
    That will be part of a girl/boy doubleheader. The girls’ game will start at 6 p.m.

At Bullitt Central
    BETHLEHEM 40 (11-13-8-8-) Alm 6, Greenwell 9, Zoellers 11, Hagan 7, Simpson 7.
    BULLITT CENTRAL 75 (14-27-18-16) Keoka Hilliard 12, Ashleigh Pollard 11, Rachel Farber 2, Seaera Minyard 17, Valerie Terry 4, Kristen Collins 8, Kayla Riggs 4, Kaitlyn McKnight 13, Selena Yunt 4.