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Three local teams part of annual Cougarama

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - 'Kentucky's Premier Preseason Event' for high school basketball will return to Bullitt Central on Friday and Saturday with the 2007 Cougarama.

Once again, Bullitt Central head coach Joe Pat Lee has put together a strong event with 16 teams taking part over two days. This will be one of two scrimmages for most of the teams as they prepare for the start of the season on Monday, Nov. 26.

The three Bullitt County boys' teams will all be taking part with Bullitt East and Bullitt Central set to take the court on Friday night. North Bullitt will then swing into action on Saturday morning.

The previous Cougaramas, which started under former head coach James Hurley, have made it easy for Lee to fill the slate of games. It also helps that many Jefferson County school see it as a positive pre-season event.

"It's pretty easy to get teams," Lee said last week. "We have to turn some teams down every year.

"Our boosters and sponsors do a good job," Lee added. "That makes it a positive experience for everyone."

This event is a fund-raiser for the Cougars.

What isn't helping the event is that the high school football season has been moved back a week this season. That means that many of the schools taking part are still involved in the football post-season so they won't have all of their top players.

One example of that is Central which is in the Class 3-A play-offs. One of their top basketball players is Leland Banks, the starting quarterback on the football team.

The showcase game of the event will be the final game on Saturday when Manual takes on Christian County at 7 p.m.

Manual has the state's top junior player in Jacob Jenkins as well as Aaron Williams, one of the top five players in the Seventh Region. The Crimsons also have 6-4 freshman Tony Kimbro Jr.

Christian County is coming off a trip to the Sweet 16 a year ago. That team is led now by the guard combo of Corey Wilford and Shaquille Wilson.

One of the teams with the longest trip will be Covington Catholic and they are the favorites this year in the Ninth Region.

"I think we have a good mix of teams," Lee pointed out. "We have good teams from the Sixth Region and then Shelby County and Spencer County should be two of the best teams in the Eighth Region.

"Plus, it is always good to get the county teams involved," the coach added. "The fans like to come out and see them play."

Bullitt East will take the court at 6 p.m. and will take on Seneca from the Seventh Region. Bullitt Central will be on the court in the second game that night and will take on Butler.

North Bullitt will be the first team on the court on Saturday morning when they play Holy Cross.

Fans do need to remember that these contests are scrimmages. There will be differences in the time keeping and each game will be limited to about 90 minutes. Some coaches might use part of the time to use their junior-varsity players instead of sticking with varsity players throughout.

Tickets at the gate will be $4 for adults and high school students. Middle school age fans will be charged $2. For fourth graders and younger there is no admission charge.