SHEPHERDSVILLE – Turning up the defensive pressure, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars picked up a fourth straight win on Monday when they held visiting Holy Cross to only 11 points in the second half of a 58-33 victory.
The success came in the first-round of the Girls’ Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament.
Bullitt Central has turned the season back around after some poor performances over the first two weeks of the new year. The road back started with a strong showing against Bullitt East and then picked up speed last Tuesday when the Lady Cougars went to Taylorsville and beat Eighth Region power Spencer County 44-38.
That was followed over the weekend with expected wins over Moore and Fairdale before the impressive effort on Monday against a bigger and stronger Holy Cross team.
Known for its offensive firepower, Bullitt Central has been making a better effort on the defensive end in recent games.
“We played well,” Lady Cougar head coach Jessie Curry said after the game. “We were up 11 at halftime and then held them to 11 points in the second half. We played well. I was proud of them.
“Holy Cross is a big and physical team,” the coach added. “We knew that we would have to rebound and we did.”
The win on Monday advanced Bullitt Central to the second-round of the Girls’ LIT. The route could not be any tougher as the Lady Cougars will now have to play Manual, the state’s second-ranked team, in a game at Valley High School on Wednesday for a game that starts at 4 p.m.
The four-game winning streak has righted a tittering ship.
“Winning at Spencer County was huge,” Curry said. “That came right after we played well against Bullitt East.
“We’ve turned it around a little bit,” the coach added. “Since that third straight loss we knew we had to fix ourselves. We’re trying to play our best in February. Everybody knows what we have and what we run. Our kids are getting better and buying in.”
On Monday, the Lady Cougars jumped out to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. The maroon and gray were ahead 33-22 at halftime and maintained that in the second half. The Lady Cougars were up 39-26 heading into the fourth quarter and then blew it open down the stretch.
Leading the way for Bullitt Central was senior Haley Dillman with 16 points while both Emily Bible and Emma Lesher had ten points. Ava Bucci came off the bench and scored nine points for the Lady Cougars.
Bullitt Central nailed six three-pointers in the win and were eight of 14 at the foul line.
Holy Cross got 15 points from Savannah Shawver but no other Lady Cougar had more than four points. The visitors hit only one of two free throws and made only a pair of three-pointers.
Girls’ LIT First Round at Bullitt Central
HOLY CROSS 33 (8-14-4-7) Shawver 15, Holland 3, Miller 4, Trusty 4, Webb 4, Taylor 3.
BULLITT CENTRAL 58 (18-15-6-19) Emily Bible 10, Haley Dillman 16, Kylee Wheatley 6, Emma Lesher 10, Abrie Dillman 2, Nataleigh Tatum 2, Cami Bickett 3, Ava Bucci 9.
The win over Spencer County on the road last Tuesday snapped a short losing streak. Just a week earlier the Lady Bears had beaten North Bullitt on the same court by 25 points. At this point, Spencer County is the second-ranked team in the Eighth Region behind only Anderson County while sporting a 15-4 record.
Bullitt Central beat the Lady Bears by holding that team’s only senior, Daveigh Reichenbach to eight points. She had scored 33 against North Bullitt. In fact, no Lady Bear player scored more than 12 points as the team shot just 29.5 percent from the field including two of 14 from beyond the arc.
Bullitt Central countered with 15 points from Emma Lesher and nine by Haley Dillman along with eight by Ally Klutey.
The Lady Cougars shot 45 percent from the field and converted five three-pointers. The team also had 25 rebounds including seven each by Bible and Dillman.
At Spencer County
BULLITT CENTRAL 44 – Emma Lesher 15, Haley Dillman 9, Ally Klutey 8, Kylee Wheatley 6, Emily Bible 4, Nataleigh Tatum 2.
SPENCER COUNTY 38 – Ella Brown 12, Bailey Weyrauch 10, Daveigh Reichenbach 8, Braelyn Cundiff 6, Gracie Brown 2.
For head coach Jessie Curry, homecoming night had a perfect ending.
His Bullitt Central Lady Cougars came away with a 64-36 victory over district foe Moore.
And he had the opportunity to get his entire bench into the game.
Curry, who had typically played six or seven players, substituted early and often in Friday’s game.
While it might have altered the normal flow of the game, Curry was pleased with the opportunity to get everyone into the game while still taking care of business.
The victory locked up the number one seed in next month’s district tournament, which will be hosted by Bullitt Central.
Moore’s Natalya Pits scored the game’s first basket but that would be the only points of the first quarter for the Lady Mustangs.
Bullitt Central, led by five points from Emily Bible and four from Emma Lesher, held an 11-2 advantage at the first stop.
Ally Klutey got hot in the second quarter, scoring nine straight points to lead the home team to a 24-13 halftime lead.
During the first half, Curry substituted liberally. After intermission, he returned to his normal rotation, trying to make sure his starters stayed in their routine.
“It’s always good to win homecoming,” said Curry. “And it is good to get the players experience off the bench.”
With a big crowd, Curry said it is good for the players to get the recognition they deserve.
“This is a good basketball team,” said Curry. “This is a good group of girls and they deserve praise for a good season.”
Lesher had a big game with 19 points. Klutey and Bible each reached double digits with 11.
At Bullitt Central
BULLITT CENTRAL 64 (11-13-22-18) Emma Lesher 19, Ally Klutey 11, Emily Bible 11, Haley Dillman 8, Kylee Wheatley 8, Ava Bucci 4, Abigail Atwell 3
MOORE 43 (2-11- 11-19) Natalya Pits 19, Seantavia Thomas 12, Tahjae Harper 5
Before the backboard came down on Saturday (see story on page A-6), the Lady Cougars stuffed visiting Fairdale 61-20.
This one was over quickly. Bullitt Central raced out to a 26-4 lead in the first quarter behind eight points from Emma Lesher and seven points by Haley Dillman. By halftime, the home team had pushed the margin to 43-5, meaning that there was a running clock the entire second half. That seriously limited the scoring over the final 16 minutes.
Curry got to use his bench in the second half. Nine different Lady Cougars scored in this game led by Haley Dillman with 17 points. The team also got 10 points each from Lesher and Klutey.
Bullitt Central connected on nine three-pointers in this game.
At Bullitt Central
FAIRDALE 20 (4-1-11-4) Smithson 7, Alcorn 8, Nash 1, Mohamad 2, Tarpin 2.
BULLITT CENTRAL 61 (26-17-10-7) Emily Bible 6, Haley Dillman 17, Kylee Wheatley 2, Emma Lesher 10, Ally Klutey 10, Abrie Dillman 3, Cami Bickett 5, Chloe Hurst 2, Ava Bucci 6.