HEBRON ESTATES - Amber Courtney is competitive and she hates to lose. However, the second-year coach is anything but unhappy with the steady improvement of her North Bullitt Lady Eagles.
While the Lady Eagles settled for fourth place in its own First Citizens Bank Classic, Courtney said the improvement since the first game of the season is immeasurable.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” said Courtney, whose team was 1-2 in the tournament. “We’re not hanging our heads. We’re still competing.”
With just one junior on the roster, North Bullitt is playing a lot of young girls. But Courtney said the team is coming together and the two losses last week came down to one or two possessions.
“We need to get one of those big wins,” said Courtney. “We need a big win to help our confidence.”
In the opener, North Bullitt put up 66 points in a 19-point victory over Iroquois.
When the Lady Eagles turned up the heat on its full-court press, the Lady Raiders began to melt.
The Sixth Region foe got to within four points at one stage but the North Bullitt pressure would allow the lead to expand.
Three players hit double digits for the winners. Savannah Morrison led the way with 18 points, while Maria George had 13 and Holly White had 10.
On Tuesday, the host team had the advantage for most of the evening against Warren Central. However, the visitors from southern Kentucky advanced to the championship game with a 59-53 victory.
The Lady Eagles had a chance to expand the lead in the second quarter, after entering the frame up 17-12.
However, hitting just one of nine free throws and watching Jasmine Ray’s three-pointer from 40 feet go in at the buzzer, the Lady Eagle lead was only 25-21 at intermission.
Warren Central would score the first 13 points of the third quarter as North Bullitt did not light up the scoreboard until Savannah Morrison connected on an old-fashioned three-point play. Kasey McCoy, who had a standout night, hit a basket and Katie Downey drained a three to get within 37-33 at the end of the third quarter.
Downey hit both free throws to cut the lead to 37-35 but that would be as close as the Lady Eagles would get.
McCoy had a career game with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Courtney said she could see the confidence growing in her inside player as she had the hot hand all night long. Savannah Morrison also hit double digits with 11.
In the battle for third place on Wednesday, North Bullitt would face a familiar foe in North Oldham.
The third quarter again seemed to be the problem for the Lady Eagles.
Reba Stice had the hot hand early for North Bullitt but the Lady Eagles again struggled at the free throw line, missing all four charity tosses in the second quarter. Still, after Savannah Morrison drove for a basket with 1:12 left, the host team would lead 14-12 at halftime.
North Oldham scored the first six points of the quarter and the Lady Eagles finally got a basket with 5:15 left in the third period from McCoy, who then hit a second consecutive bucket.
Downey’s steal, basket and free throw cut the lead to 26-24 to start the fourth quarter.
The two teams battled the entire fourth quarter with the lead never more than five points for the victors.
North Bullitt had two free throws to knot the score at 38 but t hey failed.
North Oldham’s Mikayla Roach missed both of her free throws but Nicole Bryant claimed the rebound and was foul. She hit one of the two charity tosses.
Savannah Morrison had a good look at a trey but it bounced off the rim.
After Morrison hit one of two free throws with six seconds remaining, North Oldham made what could have been a fatal mistake.
Trying to throw over the full-court pressure, the ball went untouched out of bounds. With the ball on its own baseline and down by three, North Bullitt never got a clean look at the basket. Morrison got off a trey but it was contested and North Oldham held on for the 40-37 win and third place.
“The kids played so hard all three games,” said Courtney, whose squad is now 3-7 on the season. “We’re getting so close. But our goal has been to get better each game and we’re doing that.”
First Citizens Bank Classic
At North Bullitt
NORTH BULLITT (14-22-17-13) 66 - Savannah Morrison 18, Maria George 13, Holly White 10, Caitlin Montgomery 8, Shelby Morrison 5, Kasey McCoy 4, Belle Leonard 3, Katie Downey 2, Reba Stice 2, Bre Stewart 1
Iroquois (7-21-6-13) 47 - Glasser 24, Pryor 12, Kindle 7, Johnson 4
NORTH BULLITT (17-8-8-18) 53 - Kasey McCoy 22, Savannah Morrison 11, Holly White 7, Katie Downey 7, Caitlin Montgomery 4, Maria George 2
Warren Central (12-9-16-22) 59 - Rigsby 16, Donisi 15, Day 11, Hill 7, Burnett 8, Taylor 2
Third place game
NORTH BULLITT (8-6-10-13) 37 -Reba Stice 11, Savannah Morrison 10, Katie Downey 5, Maria George 5, Kasey McCoy 4, Holly White 2
North Oldham (4-8-14-12) 40 - Jessica Lowe 10, Nicole Bryant 8