Tasia Jeffries scored 21 points to lead Butler, which used a hot first half to cruise to a 72-52 victory over visiting Bullitt East in girls’ basketball Tuesday night.
The battle of Top 10 teams in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll – and a rematch of last year’s Sixth Region first round contest that Bullitt East won – lost some of its luster when the Chargers lost star Lindsey Duvall to a season-ending surgery just before the season began. Third-ranked Butler (3-0) wanted to jump on that early by pushing up the tempo on both ends of the court.
“I think that we did exactly we planned to do and what we wanted to do,” said Jeffries, who scored seven of her points during that stretch, finishing the period with a steal and a layup that gave Butler a 25-11 lead. “We had a gameplan, and we knew that we wanted to jump on them quick.”
Junior Alyssa Peak drew two fouls, a minute apart, for No. 8 Bullitt East (1-1), the second coming with 3:44 left in the first quarter. From that point, the Bearettes outscored Bullitt East 15-4 to finish the quarter with a 14-point lead.
The Bearettes shot 60 percent in the first half, continuing to build their lead throughout the second quarter. Besides their hot shooting, they also took advantage of 16 first half turnovers by the Chargers, who shot just 33.3 percent during that stretch.
The way Butler started the game pleased coach Larry Just, who said that was one of the issues that plagued his team last season.
“We struggled with that a lot last year,” Just said. “It really felt like we were always playing catchup all year long.”
That would not be the case Tuesday night as Butler would push its lead to as many as 24 in the second half.
Jeffries, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, finished making 8-of-13 shots, including 3-of-7 three-pointers, to lead three Butler scorers in double figures. Allison Just, who hit all three of her shots from beyond the arc, scored 13, and Jaelynn Penn added 11 on 5-of-7 shooting, as the Bearettes shot 51 percent (26-of-51) from the floor and 51 percent (7-of-14) from the arc.
Raegan Williams had 17 to lead the Chargers.
“We just got to get better, like I told them,” Bullitt East coach Chris Stallings said. “And that’s every day, day by day, we just got to get better. That’s what we know two games in.”
Just doesn’t think that’ll be a problem for the Chargers.
“They’re trying to figure out who’s going to handle the ball and get the ball in the right spot,” Just said. “We were able to take some advantage of that early here in the season. I’m sure it’ll be much different if we see each other down the road.”
Bullitt East (1-1) – Ralph 4, Higdon 2, Scott 2, Peak 4, Henn 10, Williams 17, Rodgers 7, Love 6.
Butler (3-0) – Torrens 5, Jeffries 21, Bowden 2, Penn 11, Goodlett 5, Lockhart 6, Lewis 9, Just 13.
3-point goals – Henn, Love 2, Jeffries 3, Penn, Just 3.