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MOUNT WASHINGTON Ð The Bullitt East Chargers got a completely unexpected surprise for their 12-1 start to the high school basketball season when they received the number one seed to next week's Louisville Invitational Tournament.
This year's event will be played at Valley High School.
As good as the Chargers have been in recent years, they have never received the highest seed to this event. Three years ago, the program did reach the semi-finals with an upset of Jeffersontown when the event was held at Bellarmine University, but that run ended with a semi-final loss to Eastern High School (both BE and Eastern reached the semi-finals of the state tournament later that season).
Two years ago, Bullitt East beat Southern early in the tournament but then lost to Ballard in a Friday quarter-final.
A year ago, Bullitt East did not even play in the Boys' LIT, skipping the event to travel to Missouri to participate in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions event. Instead, the school got back in the good graces of the LIT by writing a $1,000 check as a penalty (the penalty cost has since been doubled).
Everyone expected Ballard to get the number one seed, but the LIT uses something called the SETH Power Rankings to seed teams. As it turned out, Trinity, which lost to Ballard in the finals of the King of the Bluegrass Tournament at Fairdale, got the number two seed while Ballard is number three. The fourth seeded team is St. Xavier.
Pleasure Ridge Park, the pre-season number one team in the Sixth Region, has the number-five seed.
Remember, this is a Bullitt East team that does not return a starter from last season. The Chargers have only three seniors and at times this season only one of those has been in the starting line-up Ð Rhett Troutman. In addition, head coach Bob Blackburn was only given the job a month before the first game after John Hunt stepped down.
The boysÕ LIT has the top 20 teams from the Sixth and Seventh Regions participating with the exception of Bullitt Central and North Bullitt. Those two teams have not been part of the LIT formula recently. Bullitt Central, at 9-2, would have qualified this season if they had agreed earlier to participate.
Now, Bullitt East will not play over the first two nights of the tournament which starts on Monday, Jan. 13 with four games. The Chargers will now play the winner of the opening night game between Male and Jeffersontown on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 3:30 p.m. With a win, Bullitt East would play on that Friday against the winner of the Fern Creek and Waggener contest.
Because they are all in the 24th District, Bullitt East, Fern Creek and Jeffersontown already have games scheduled against each other this season. In fact, Bullitt East plays Fern Creek at home on Tuesday of this week, but will not play Jeffersontown until Feb. 4.