Last week’s winter storms could not have come at a better time for the Ballard High School boys’ basketball team.
Even though the No. 14 team in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings was in the midst of a five-game winning streak, Bruins coach Chris Renner appreciated the break because it came on the heels of his team’s Louisville Invitational Tournament championship.
Playing in their first game in 10 days on Tuesday, host Ballard had to overcome a slow start, but rallied to put away No. 12 Fern Creek 63-52. Clivonte Patterson led the Bruins (14-6) with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
“Anytime you’re coming off the LIT, it’s just tough physically and emotionally to get back into playing games,” Renner said. “That break was nice for us even though we didn’t get any practice in.”
Early on though, it looked as if Fern Creek would dominate. The Tigers (11-8) scored in transition, hit shots from the perimeter and drove with ease to the basket as they built a 19-7 lead less than six minutes into the contest.
Slowly throughout the second period through, the Bruins worked their way back into the game. Patterson, a 6-3 junior, deserves most of the credit as he scored 11 of his points in that span. His 3-pointer with 1:14 left allowed Ballard to tie the game for the first time at 28. He then made 1 of 2 free throws with :01.3 left to give Ballard its first lead of the night, 29-28.
Patterson “was huge for us when we were struggling to score and do things right,” Renner said. “And that just kind of shows the ability that he has to play the game as well as take over games.”
Ballard never trailed in the second half as Patterson went to the boards to stymie a Tigers’ comeback attempt. The forward grabbed nine of his rebounds in the final 16 minutes. The Bruins led by as much as 49-37 thanks to an 11-0 run that carried over early into the fourth quarter and never trailed by less than five the rest of the way.
Jamil Wilson added 13 points and 10 assists for Ballard, which also got 11 points from Jake Ramsey.
Six of Fern Creek’s losses have been to Kentucky teams, all of whom are ranked in the Litkenhous Ratings. And as they did in losses at Trinity and Bullitt East, the Tigers could not take advantage of being up on the road.
“They made some good adjustments,” Tigers coach James Schooler said. “But again, we’ve got to learn how to finish games and build on leads. That’s an experience thing we’ve got to fight through.”
The Tigers, who got 17 from Tony Washington, were without Anthony Wales for a second straight game. The sophomore guard, one of their leading scorers, has a groin injury that will also keep him out of Friday’s game at Waggener. Schooler said Wales is “week-to-week” and they want to be sure he’s available for the postseason.
Fern Creek (11-8) – Stanton 5, Price 6, Jones 6, Washington 17, Yusef 2, Wickliffe 4, Hawkins 1, Rogers 9.
Ballard (14-6) – Douglas 3, Patterson 19, Avery 7, Wilson 13, Ramsey 11, Wimberly 2, Darby 8.
3-point goals: Washington 4, Rogers, Patterson 2, Avery.