- Special Sections
- Public Notices
LOUISVILLE - The Bullitt East Chargers stared disaster squarely in the eye Tuesday, but they never blinked against Fairdale in the first game of the Boys’ Sixth Region Tournament at Atherton High School.
After leading by as many as 15 points in the first half, the Chargers saw that advantage slip away and Fairdale built a 42-34 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
It is always darkest before the dawn. Bullitt East answered with a 17-3 run that put the Chargers back in control and the red and gold went on to record a 61-52 victory that moved them into Friday’s semi-finals where they will take on Butler in a game set for 5 p.m. at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
“We weren’t playing our best offensively or defensively,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said of the second and third quarter. We had a time-out and had a little heart-to-heart talk. We came back. I’m proud of them.”
This game was much like the regular season game between the two former 24th District rivals. Back on Feb. 7, Bullitt East had needed a big fourth quarter rally to pull out a 68-62 victory.
Barr has had a lot of battles with Fairdale head coach Gregg Longacre over the past decade.
“They are a different team without the Deloney kid,” Barr said. “They are playing Fairdale basketball now. They are up in your face and pressing. We prepared for it and knew what was coming, but they have the type pressure that is hard to duplicate in practice.”
Bullitt East (25-4) seemed to be in complete control when Derek Willis nailed a three-pointer midway through the second quarter that put the Chargers up 26-11. That didn’t last long as the Bulldogs finished out the half on a 14-3 run that included ten points from Fairdale junior Boo Crabtree including a pair of three-pointers. That made it a 29-25 game at halftime.
Fairdale (13-18) kept coming early in the second half, pulling even at 31-31 at the 5:48 mark on two free throws by Cory Thomas. The Bulldogs later moved ahead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game when Caleb Longacre drained a three-pointer that made it 34-33. The 22nd District runners-up were on top 36-34 when their rally ended with three straight baskets from Richard Rudolph.
Bullitt East then caught a break when Crabtree picked up his fourth foul with 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter. That was converted into a three point play by Willis that made it 42-37 heading into the final frame.
With the momentum finally back wearing red and gold, the Chargers put the ball into the hands of point guard Trey Rakes and let him attack the defense. After the two teams exchanged hoops, Rakes twice drove to the basket for lay-ups that pulled Bullitt East within 44-43. Longacre then hit one free throw.
That was the last time Fairdale had the lead. On the next trip down the floor, Bullitt East got the ball to senior Kory Caufield on the perimeter and he nailed a three-pointer at the 5:11 mark that put the Chargers up 46-45.
Moments later, Bullitt East’s Rusty Troutman picked up his fourth foul. Fairdale inbounded the ball, but then threw it away near mid-court. Willis swept in and picked up the ball up and dribbled to the basket. The 6-9 junior cut back to the basket and appeared ready to dunk the ball when Crabtree reached out and fouled him, sending Fairdale’s tallest player to the bench with five fouls.
Willis hit one of the two free throws and then Troutman scored again. At the other end, Rudolph drove into what appeared to be an empty lane and tossed up a short jumper, but Willis blocked the shot to midcourt. Bullitt East then got the ball inside to Chris Embry for a lay-up and the surge came to an end when Trey Rakes hit two free throws at the 1:55 mark that made it 53-45.
Over the final two minutes, Bullitt East was eight of eight at the foul line. Rakes had six of those free throws as he finished as the game’s leading scorer with 18 points.
“He hit some big free throws there in the fourth quarter,” Barr said of Rakes. “He told me coming out of a time-out that he wanted the ball.”
More importantly, Rakes pulled the Chargers out of their mid-game doldrums with aggressive drives to the basket.
“In the second and third quarters we were standing around,” Barr said. “He got us back in the attack mode.”
This is a Bullitt East team that has played one of the toughest schedules in the state this season and that experience showed in this game.
“I didn’t see anyone panic,” Barr said. “I’ve never seen them panic. They go about their business. We’ve only lost four games this season. They feel they can get it done.”
Five of the eight Bullitt East players that took the court on Tuesday played at least 22 minutes including four starters who played at least 28 minutes. Barr started the game with the team in a zone defense, but had to switch to man-to-man later.
“With our injuries and grade problems, we don’t have a lot of options right now,” Barr said. “That is why we started out in the zone, but we got a little complacent.”
The good news is that with the Sixth Region Tournament spread out over eight days, the Chargers don’t have to worry about fatigue at this point.
Rakes had his 18 points and the red and gold also got 14 points and 15 rebounds from Willis along with 12 points from Caufield.
Crabtree led Fairdale with 17 points and the Bulldogs also got ten points each from Longacre and Thomas.
The two teams both shot the ball at just about the same rate - 43 percent. Fairdale did have 10 more rebounds, but Bullitt East had only nine turnovers to 21 for the Bulldogs. The big difference was at the foul line where Bullitt East was 13 of 18 while Fairdale was only three of six.
After the game, Barr did say that sophomore Ezra Troutman, who suffered a severely sprained ankle in the district final victory over Jeffersontown will probably not be able to play the rest of this season because of the injury.
Boys’ Sixth Region Tourney at Atherton HS
FAIRDALE 52 (8-17-17-10) Caleb Longacre 10, Richard Rudolph 8, Josh Payne 7, Cory Thomas 10, Boo Crabtree 17.
BULLITT EAST 61 (16-13-8-24) Luke Francke 2, Trey Rakes 18, Rusty Troutman 9, Derek Jones 4, Kory Caufield 12, Chris Embry 2, Derek Willis 14.