Thursday night lockdown didn't phase Chargers

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By Mike Farner

LOUISVILLE - If you do this job long enough, you will finally see it all.

Still, Thursday night’s power outage at Bellarmine University, which forced most of the regional tournaments in Louisville back a day, was something I had never been a part of or even imagined could ever happen.

While a lot of the focus was on the situation involving Christian Academy and Sacred Heart and how the final five minutes of that game had to be moved back, you also have to remember that the Bullitt East girls (as well as Holy Cross) were already dressed and ready to go in the locker rooms under the bleachers at Bellarmine.

The two teams on the court could at least mill about and had game situations to go over. Bullitt East and Holy Cross were in windowless rooms with only emergency lighting to go by. They didn’t really know what was happening outside of their little locker room.

“I was so proud of our kids about what we did and how we handled things,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said later of the night that will be hard to ever forget. “We just stayed in here (the locker room) with my girls. We did different things. We played a little hangman and did some chants.

After more than an hour delay, it was really best for the two teams that the action was suspended and put off until Friday night. After the game with Holy Cross, Stallings said that the team didn’t add or change anything with an extra day to prepare.

On Friday, Bullitt East’s game was treated just like it was the third game from the previous day. Christian Academy beat Sacred Heart when that game resumed at 5 p.m. There was plenty of time before the 6 p.m. start for Bullitt East and Holy Cross, but the teams were not allowed on the court for warm-ups before the 15 minutes that would have normally been allotted to teams playing the third consecutive game.

There was no winner or loser from Thursday night despite some parents who felt they were inconvienced by the delays. Think of being at home when the power goes out and you want to use your computer or watch your favorite team on TV. It is frustrating.

Jefferson County Public Schools ran the regional tournaments and no matter what they did, there was going to be grumbling that this or that should have been done earlier or later or not at all. A couple of internet message boards proved once again that you can’t please everybody.

Stallings felt that JCPS did the best they could do in a tough situation. Remember, nobody had any idea when the power would return and it was a school night. If it had been on a Friday or Saturday they might have been able to wait a little longer.

“I really liked the way it was handled,” Stallings said. “They asked the coaches for their input and I appreciate that.”

The first option was to pack everything up and move a couple miles south to Atherton where the girls had played on Monday and Tuesday. That was just not a viable option, not only all the packing (including radio and TV equipment, stat keepers, water, chairs etc.), but for the game suspended that would have been moving a game from a college size court to a high school size court. While moving from a high school court to a college court within a tournament is one thing, changing in the middle of a game is not an option.

Once that idea was shot down, a lot of things were considered according to Stallings. There was talk of playing the girls’ games on Friday and finishing as scheduled on Saturday while the boys would play at Atherton on Friday and then finish as scheduled on Monday at Bellarmine.

That idea was nixed because Bullitt East (as well as Central) still had boys’ and girls’ teams remaining and it wouldn’t be fair to have those schools playing at the same time in different locations. In addition, Mercy, which had already won their semi-final in the Seventh Region, would have had a day off while (eventually) Christian Academy would have had to play back-to-back days. There was also worry that Atherton could not hold the crowds for the Seventh Region boys’ games (which are somewhat bigger than for Sixth Region games).

There was never really a problem of playing on Sunday. Many of the Catholic high schools in Jefferson County play their rival games on Sunday (often times at Bellarmine).

The girls had to be done by Sunday since their Sweet Sixteen starts in Bowling Green on Wednesday.

The option of playing the boys’ semi-finals and finals on Monday and Tuesday was never really discussed. As someone who for many years did that double in the Eighth Region, it can be done. Still, the coaches here really like the idea of at least one off-day between each game (which I agree with) which was implemented this year for the first time.

So, it really was making the best out of a bad situation.