Willis douses Dragons' flame

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - No school proved to be no problem for the Bullitt East Chargers on Thursday as the red and gold put together another impressive performance in routing Eighth Region contender South Oldham 82-58.

School had been canceled in Bullitt County on that day because of snow in the morning, but the conditions improved enough for the game to go on (classes were held in Oldham County). Bullitt East head coach Troy Barr opted to let his team take the day off, reporting just a short time before the bus left for a short walk through.

The plan worked to perfection as the Chargers were extremely sharp, shooting 55 percent from the field and making 23 of 33 free throw chances in winning for the seventh straight game.

The win was the first for the red and gold since the miracle rally against Bullitt Central six days earlier that resulted in a one-point victory in Shepherdsville.

"Sometimes when you win a game that you should have lost, you forget that you didn't play very well," Barr said of the Bullitt Central comeback. "This group came back and has worked very hard in practice since that game. You see it in that we played very well tonight.

"The kids were making the extra pass tonight which is something we didn't do in the last game," the coach added. "We were giving up a good shot to get a great shot."

Bullitt East, which won for the 20th time this season, rode a great start from 6-8 sophomore Derek Willis to the victory. The first-year player stepped out and drained a trio of three pointers in the first three minutes of the second quarter as the Chargers surged ahead 32-22.

The red and gold were up 21-15 after the first stop, but then South Oldham's Jack Sherry connected on a three-pointer that cut the lead in half. Willis then started his own 11-point run with a three pointer. By the time the sophomore hit his third three-pointer, the lead was at ten points.

Willis scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the second quarter. Amazingly, Willis had five three-pointers and only one basket from inside the arc despite being inside enough to nab 13 rebounds.

"What can I say? Derek is very talented," Barr said. "He is starting to understand what we want. He took this game over. Hayden (Sweat) and Corey (Washburn did well (in the second half) but Derek took the game over in the first half."

South Oldham was within 42-33 at halftime, but even that margin didn't last long as the Chargers opened the second half on a 13-5 run that included another three-pointer from Willis. Bullitt East was up 67-45 after three quarters and then coasted to the victory.

This is a Dragon team that has a 15-6 record and is ranked near the top of the Eighth Region this season, but they had no answer for the taller Chargers.

All but eight of Bullitt East's 82 points came from the five starters. Willis had the 26 point effort while Sweat finished with 20 points while Washburn had 19.

Barr has had to shorten his rotation over the past two weeks after dropping two players from the team. Entering the post-season, the Chargers will rely a great deal on the five starters.

"We are spot-subbing," Barr said. "We are subbing more for situations. Other than that, nothing has really changed. Our top four or five guys are playing a few more minutes.

"We're still working on conditioning in practice," the coach added. "A lot of teams don't do that at this point in the season. Right now, we need to be doing that."

South Oldham got 15 points from Carson Fields and 12 points by Dillon Bullock. 

The game against South Oldham was the only contest of the week for Bullitt East. The Chargers will now close out the regular season with a trip to Elizabethtown on Tuesday before finishing up at home on Friday against DeSales.


At South Oldham

BULLITT EAST 82 (21-21-25-15) Trey Rakes 7, Rusty Troutman 4, Hayden Sweat 20, Elliott Young 2, Brett Hatfield 2, Derek Willis 26, Reese Hardin 2, Corey Washburn 19.

SOUTH OLDHAM 58 (15-18-12-13) Blair 3, Bullock 12, Fields 15, Martin 5, Sherry 5, Haysley 3, Goodlett 8, Reynolds 3, Pendleton 4.