Bullitt East vs. Bardstown
6:30 p.m. Thursday
Winner plays Game 8 winner at 8 p.m. Friday
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BULLITT EAST CHARGERS
Region: 6 | Record: 28-5 | Enrollment: 1,338
Troy Barr played for the Chargers in the mid-1980s, and was as assistant for 10 years. He's now in his ninth year as coach with an overall record of 187-84.
Hayden Sweat6-0 Sr. 18.3 ppg
Rusty Troutman6-3 So. 9.2 ppg
Corey Washburn6-7 Sr. 14.4 ppg
Derek Willis6-8 So. 13.5 ppg
Trey Rakes5-8 So. 8.3 ppg
Bullitt East wins with teamwork. "We're at our best when we're sharing the basketball," Troy Barr said. "We've got over 400 assists this year." The Chargers have a team GPA close to 3.5 and an average ACT score of 27. "They're very intelligent," Barr said. "They understand our strengths and weaknesses." Sweat, the go-to guy, is a 40-percent three-point shooter and a 85-percent foul shooter. Washburn is the emotional leader and aggressive inside (5.7 rebounds). Rakes and Troutman are good ballhandlers and shooters. Willis is the x-factor, a tall, agile guy who can shoot threes (40 percent) and rebound (8.5).
After winning the 8th Region for the first time in 2005, Bullitt East was realigned to the 6th Region, home of traditional powers Pleasure Ridge Park and Fairdale. How did the move affect the Chargers? "I wouldn't say it was devastating, but it was close," Barr said. "We'd been in the 8th Region for 25 years, so there was all that tradition and relationships we'd built over the years." Six years later, Bullitt East is happy in its new region. "I don't think anybody ever believed we'd be able to win the 6th Region. Now that we've done it, it's a special feeling," Barr said.
Player to watch
Derek Willis, a 6-8 sophomore transfer from Male, is getting noticed as a Division I prospect. Barr has seen him progress from being "really passive earlier in the year to being more aggressive in scoring and rebounding." Willis handles the ball like a guard and is a good shooter. He's solid inside as a scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. Purdue has been on him since last fall. UK and Louisville have gotten involved. Barr's assessment of Willis: "I've been around high school basketball for 25 years in Kentucky, and I've never seen a kid quite like him, with his size and skills."
Bullitt East's only previous state tournament appearance was 2005.
Region: 5 | Record: 24-4 | Enrollment: 564
James "Boo" Brewer is in his first year as coach at his alma mater. He's one of Bardstown's all-time greats, an all-stater in the late 1980s who went on to play at Louisville. He had been an assistant coach at LaRue County.
Anthony Myrks5-8 Jr. 10.8 ppg
Jordan Brewer6-3 Jr. 11.8 ppg
Cody Edelen6-4 Sr. 12.0 ppg
Nathan Hall6-2 Sr. 7.4 ppg
Chance Grundy6-3 Sr. 5.2 ppg
It's tough to get a handle on Bardstown because it has no certified stars. "Our success has been because of our hard-nosed defense," Coach James Brewer said. "We apply pressure the whole game and rebound the ball real well." Jordan Brewer, the coach's son, is the defensive stopper. On offense, nine guys average between five and 12 points. Edelen, in his first year of basketball, averages 12 points and 7.5 rebounds. Brewer and Myrks also average double figures. Treston Grundy, Marcus Cosby and Cody Ramos are key reserves. Bardstown averages only eight turnovers a game.
James "Boo" Brewer was the star on the most talented team in Bardstown history. Besides Brewer, who went on to play at Louisville, the 1987-88 Tigers also had Division I guys Doug Johnson, James Tinker, Sam Libertore and Tyrone Graves. Bardstown lost to defending state champ Clay County in overtime in the Louisville Invitational Tournament finals that season, but it didn't get to the Sweet Sixteen. LaRue County upset the Tigers 96-92 in the 5th Region semifinals.
Players to watch
If Jordan Brewer and Anthony Myrks seem to be able to read each other's minds on the court, it's because they're brothers. Bardstown Coach James Brewer adopted Anthony when he was in the sixth grade. "Him and Jordan are inseparable," Brewer said. "If you see one, you'll see the other. They're very close, almost like twins. Going to the state with my two boys is a special honor." There's another basketball star in the family. Alexis, an eighth-grader, was a standout at LaRue County this season.
Bardstown is in the tournament for the seventh time and still looking for its first win. It lost to Holmes in the first round in 2008.