Late free throw caps second-half comeback for Bullitt East over Fern Creek

Rhett Troutman’s free throw with five seconds left pushed host Bullitt East past Fern Creek 53-52 in boys’ high school basketball Thursday night.

Troutman, who finished with 11 points, got to the line when he was fouled driving toward the lane in an attempt to set up a final play for the Chargers (13-1). The senior guard scored 10 of his points in the second half as Bullitt East overcame a nine-point deficit.

“This is a good district win for us,” he said. “It sends a message that we’re ready to play, and we’re not going to back down from anybody.”

This was just the latest big play from Troutman, coach Bob Blackburn said. Troutman also knocked down the shot to beat Boyle County 62-60 in overtime in the Fort Harrod Classic at Mercer County.

“Rhett’s done this all season,” Blackburn said. “He’s a senior. He’s worked very hard for this opportunity and he’s taking advantage of it.”

Troutman’s latest big shot was set up by Tyler Sharpe’s defensive heroics. After Troutman scored on a three-point play to tie the game at 52 with 1:28 left, Fern Creek appeared ready to hold the ball for one shot.

But Sharpe jumped into a passing lane and deflected the ball toward the bleachers. Rather than just letting it go, Sharpe lunged out of bounds and threw the ball off Demetrius Stanton’s leg, causing a turnover with 43.4 seconds left.

“That was awesome,” Troutman said. Sharpe “could have just tossed it back; but instead, he hit it off (Stanton’s) leg. That won us the game right there.”

It wasn’t the only big play for the sophomore guard, who finished with 16 points. He hit three of his four three-point baskets in the final two quarters, the last one tying the game at 47 with 4:50 remaining.

“People look at his offense, but Tyler’s probably one of our better defensive players,” Blackburn said.

The Tigers (10-4) had a final chance to save the night. After Troutman missed the second free throw, Shawn Best drove the length of the court but his contested jumper bounced off the rim as time expired.

Anthony Moore led the Tigers with 14 points, but only two of those came after he drew his third foul with 5:36 left in the third quarter, when the Tigers led 34-25.

“That hurt us,” Tigers coach James Schooler said. “I thought we were able to get the ball inside when Moore was in the game. (After Moore sat) that took away from that option.”

The contest was the only regular season game scheduled between the two 24th District rivals, though there is a chance the two teams could meet in next week’s Louisville Invitational Tournament. Of course, there’s also a chance they’ll reunite in next month’s district tournament.

“Fern Creek’s got a great basketball team,” Blackburn said. “They had our attention and respect from the onset (of the season).”

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