In its first trip to the state’s most prestigious regular-season tournament, the North Bullitt High School girls’ basketball team made a statement.
Lauren Deel and Megan Goeing had big games and the Lady Eagles shot 65.2 percent in the second half to pull away for a 64-49 victory over Christian Academy in Tuesday’s first round of the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
“It’s huge for us just to get that invitation,” North Bullitt coach David Marion said. “But I told them not to be satisfied, to come down here and make a little noise and see what happens. That’s what they did.”
Deel posted 24 points and seven rebounds and Goeing scored 17 points as North Bullitt (16-6) won its fifth in a row and advanced to face Butler in a second-round game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Katie Downey scored just seven points on 3-of-18 shooting but added eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Christian Academy (14-6) built a three-point lead midway through the third quarter but couldn’t hold on. Eighth-grader Raquael Reese led the Lady Centurions with 12 points. Emma Wesley posted 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals, and Summer Conti added 10 points.
The difference was North Bullitt’s 22 points off 17 CAL turnovers.
“I think early on that nerves played a role,” CAL coach Jana Costner said. “We have a young team, but I don’t want to make excuses. We’ve been making better passes than what we did today.”
Wesley’s layup gave CAL a 38-35 lead with 4:22 left in the third quarter, but it was all North Bullitt from there.
Deel scored 11 points and Goeing added six during a 19-3 run that gave the Lady Eagles a 54-41 lead with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter. North Bullitt converted several CAL turnovers into easy baskets on the other end.
Marion said the run was a matter of his team overcoming its nerves.
“I think we were a little in awe of the moment,” he said. “We didn’t play the way we practice. We were trying to block shots and not blocking out and helping off kids. We just didn’t do what we do.”
Reese’s three point play pulled the Lady Centurions within 56-47 with 4:45 remaining, but they never got closer. North Bullitt hit 15 of 23 shots in the second half.
Now it’s on to a meeting with Butler, the defending state champion. Butler, Mercy and Bullitt East generally are considered the top three teams in the Sixth Region, and Marion said his squad is a solid No. 4.
“We have to stay in front of the ones behind us and catch the ones in front of us,” he said.
Deel said the Lady Eagles are looking forward to facing Butler.
“We’re as excited as can be,” she said. “We want to show that we’re not a small little program like we used to be. We want to make a statement.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 10 17 14 8 – 49
NORTH BULLITT 13 14 18 19 – 64
Christian Academy (14-6) – Reese 12, Wesley 10, Conti 10, Calhoun 7, Mumford 6, Bowman 4.
North Bullitt (16-6) – Badgett 6, Free 4, Dolan 6, Downey 7, Deel 24, Goeing 17.
3-point goals – Reese 3, Conti 2; Downey.