LOUISVILLE - A two-day delay to the start of the 2011 Boys’ Louisville Invitational Tournament for the Bullitt East Chargers didn’t prove to be a problem.
Finally getting on the court on Thursday at Doss High School instead of Bellarmine University’s Knights’ Hall because of snow on Tuesday, the Chargers got a huge game from Rusty Troutman to beat Sixth Region rival Western 69-62.
The win moved Bullitt East into the tourney quarter-finals a day later where they were to take on Jeffersontown, the top-ranked team in the state. With the win, the Chargers became the only remaining Sixth Region team against seven teams from the Seventh Region in the LIT.
The victory was the first-ever for Bullitt East in the LIT after four previous attempts.
Troutman, a sophomore who has struggled with his outside shooting for much of the season, snapped out of the slump in a big way on Thursday as he scored 24 points and pulled down 18 rebounds. The 6-3 forward was six of nine from the field including a four of six mark from beyond the arc. He was also eight of nine from the foul line.
“I couldn’t be happier for that young man,” Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr said after the win. “He has been our heart and soul all year. His shooting has been off and he has been struggling, but over the last few days in practice his shooting has started to come around.”
Bullitt East’s big effort overshadowed a strong outing by Western’s Ryan Taylor. The 6-6 wingman, who has committed to the University of Louisville (but has not yet signed) scored 38 points and pulled down 17 rebounds.
“Unbelievable,” Barr said of Taylor. “He’s the real deal. He only had 11 at halftime. We did a good job on him.”
Bullitt East used just about every defense in the book to try and contain Taylor and Western, the 19th-ranked team in the state.
“We started out in a zone and shadowed him,” Barr said. “We went from a 2-3 to a 3-2 and we also played a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two. We had a lot of things we wanted to do and the kids executed it.”
What Bullitt East didn’t do well was get off to a good start. Western scored the first eight points of the game and the Chargers didn’t score until Derek Willis grabbed a rebound and converted a three-point play at the 4:42 mark. Still, the score was 8-8 when Troutman got his first basket and he then connected on back-to-back three-pointers to help his team grab a 14-13 advantage after one quarter.
Western’s last lead was at 17-16 and the game was tied for the last time at 19-19 with just over three minutes remaining in the half. The Chargers then went on an 11-5 run to end the half which included three-point plays by both Troutman and Willis.
While Bullitt East never trailed in the second half, the red and gold could not put the game away until midway through the fourth quarter. Western was within 39-38 and 42-41 late in the third quarter and it was 52-48 when Taylor slipping inside for a dunk. The Warriors got the ball back and Taylor was fouled, but his first shot in the bonus was waved off for a lane violation.
That opened the door for the Chargers. They responded with six straight points including a three-pointer by Troutman that pushed the lead to 58-48. Bullitt East would maintain that double-digit advantage until Taylor hit his final three-pointer just before the final buzzer.
Bullitt East got the 24 points from Troutman along with 18 points by senior Hayden Sweat and 15 points from Willis. The Chargers finished with eight three-pointers and were 22 of 26 at the foul line.
Western had no player other than Taylor score more than eight points.
“I was disappointed we couldn’t play on Tuesday,” Barr said of the snow that kept his team out of the gym for one day. “I thought we were ready. We came back today ready to play. The kids have really matured.”
At Doss High School
BULLITT EAST 69 (14-16-14-25) Trey Rakes 3, Rusty Troutman 24, Hayden Sweat 18, Kory Caufield 4, Derek Willis 15, Corey Washburn 5.
WESTERN 62 (13-11-17-21) Clay 8, Fields 4, Toby 8, Taylor 38, Harris 4.