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LOUISVILLE - The Bullitt East Chargers overcame a poor second quarter on Wednesday and then rolled past former district rival Southern 71-46 in the final early round game of the Boys' Louisville Invitational Tournament.
It was not a happy Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr when the team headed to the locker room at halftime with only a 29-22 lead over the Trojans. Barr got the team's attention at that point and the red and gold pushed out to a 42-28 advantage midway through the third quarter before coasting to the victory.
"I guess the best thing you can write is that I challenged their manhood," Barr said with a smile after emerging from the locker room after the game of his halftime talk.
"It was not an Xs and Os problem," Barr said of the second quarter. "It was heart and effort problems. Southern is a good team and I knew they would give us a good game, but they were playing harder than us and I can't stand for that."
Bullitt East had a 9-2 lead four minutes into the game and appeared on their way when they went up 23-9 on Rusty Troutman's fourth three-pointer of the first half. But then the Chargers went six minutes without a basket from the floor, settling for six points at the free throw line to allow Southern to stay close.
Southern, which opened the season with seven straight wins and then had captured the title of the Henry County Invitational over the holidays, pulled within five points when Patrick Horsley scored the first basket of the second half. Bullitt East answered with baskets by Rusty Troutman and Chris Embry to start the third quarter surge.
Bullitt East ended up scoring 23 points in the third quarter and they had a 52-36 edge heading into the fourth quarter. In the final frame, the defense took over as Southern scored just 10 points.
With 6-6 junior Elliot Young sitting on the bench with the stress fracture in his back and top substitute Luke Francke in street clothes with a sprained ankle, Bullitt East had to go to their bench. That didn't work well in the first half, but after halftime sophomore Ezra Troutman scored eight points in the third quarter to spark the late surge.
"Ezra missed the first two weeks with an injury and then in Florida when we had some of the injuries he got more playing time," Barr explained. "He can hit jump shots and he can help us on the boards."
Bullitt East (14-2) was led by Rusty Troutman with 21 points as he connected on eight of his ten shots from the field and the junior also had five rebounds. Derek Willis added 15 points as well as dominating inside with 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Southern, which had beaten Fairdale in triple overtime to earn the right to play Bullitt East, got 18 points from Randell Pickett, but the Trojans had no other player score more than six points.
While Bullitt East and Southern played at least once a season over the previous six years when both teams were in the 24th District, the two rivals were not scheduled to play this season until the LIT meeting came about. Southern is now in the 23rd District.
With the win, Bullitt East advanced to Friday night's quarter-finals where they were to play Ballard.
Boys' Louisville Invitational Tourney at Bellarmine University
SOUTHERN 46 (7-15-14-10) Alan Almanza 3, Tay Graves 4, Myron Goodall 3, Patrick Horsley 6, Randell Pickett 18, Ty Graves 4, Deon Yelder 4, Davonta Blevins 2, Aaron Baker 2.
BULLITT EAST 71 (15-14-23-19) Trey Rakes 7, Rusty Troutman 21, Rhett Troutman 1, Josh Miller 3, Kory Caufield 6, Chris Embry 9, Derek Willis 15, Ezra Troutman 9.