BOYS' 19th DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP: Bardstown puts away Bethlehem for 5th straight title
Bardstown 61, Bethlehem 45
By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor
Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 10:07 pm (Updated: February 27, 1:13 pm)
SPRINGFIELD — The system works.
Despite debuting an almost entirely new lineup with very little
experience on the school’s four previous district title teams, Bardstown
won its fifth straight district title Saturday over Bethlehem, 61-45,
at Washington County High School, using coach James “Boo” Brewer’s
patented brand of frantic pressure defense and riding whoever is the hot
hand that night.
“You’ve got to give credit to these players,” Brewer said. “They’ve
bought in to my style and my intensity. They came out the last part of
the season and really came together. Their chemistry came together, they
gelled together and started trusting each other. I’m very proud of
Senior Dsamuel Butler drew that nod on Saturday, hitting a pair of
threes in the first two minutes of the game and helping spark a big
Bardstown run to finish the first half. A seldom-used reserve last year
at Male High School, Butler leads the Tigers in scoring this year at
10.8 points per game, and had a game-high 19 in the finals.
“It feels good — it’s my first win,” Butler said. “We’ve just got to keep the intensity on defense … that’s what wins games.”
Both teams are in action in this week’s 5th Region tournament
quarterfinals at Marion County High School. The Tigers face off with
Campbellsville (15-15) for the third time this season at 6 p.m. tonight;
Bardstown won both previous matchups by one point in a pair of
thrillers. Bethlehem faces off with LaRue County (27-2), one of the
region favorites, at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Eagles and Hawks have not
played this season.
Montrez Railley was a reserve on last year’s district championship
team for the Tigers, and is happy he and the current bunch of mostly
newcomers got to claim their piece of that title legacy and keep the
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Like Coach B. said in the locker room,
we’ve got to ‘strive for five,’ and I think we did that tonight.”
Saturday’s championship was tight early on, but the Tigers used a
12-0 run keyed by Saturday’s hot hands, guards J.T. Galloway and Butler,
to finish out the first half to take control for good and win going
away over the Eagles. The duo combined for 33 points in the game,
including all 12 during the big run.
“With Galloway, I’m probably pretty hard on him,” Brewer said of the
junior. “The last couple of games he hasn’t played up to his par, but
he came in tonight and he was really focused. He’s back.”
Bethlehem (10-17) came into the game with co-leading scorer Chase
Allen out with an ankle injury, but for a time it looked like it
wouldn’t matter. Butler’s early threes staked Bardstown (17-11) to an
8-0 lead, but the Eagles were able to weather that initial storm.
Lain Peake scored on a baseline drive toward the end of the first
quarter, then hit a 10-footer to start the second. When Jacob Taylor fed
Bryson Cissell for a baseline jumper a minute into the frame, the
Eagles had a 12-11 lead. Bethlehem went cold the next three minutes, but
so did Bardstown, and Taylor was able to put his team back on top at
14-13 after driving the baseline for a dunk midway through the frame.
After Butler got his third three of the game to put the Tigers back
up, Taylor hit a 16-footer to tie it at 16-16 with 3:07 till half.
Bethlehem didn’t score again until the second half, however, as the
Bardstown defense started to crank up the pressure.
Galloway answered Taylor’s bucket with a driving layup, then Butler
stole the ball and scored, and the Tigers never trailed again. In all,
Galloway scored eight points during a 12-0 run that made it 28-16 at the
break, while Butler had the other four.
In the second half, the Eagles were unable to keep pace as the
Tigers looked to extend the lead. By the time Galloway scored from the
baseline with a minute left in the third, Bardstown had claimed its
largest margin of the game at 47-26.
“We try to pressure the ball so we can get into the passing lanes, and get steals and easy layups,” Railley said.
The lead grew as large as 23 three minutes into the fourth when Evan
Newsome scored on a dunk, Trey Riney scored off an assist by Butler,
then Butler got a steal and a layup, making it 57-34.
“We’re a dangerous team when we come to play,” Brewer said.
“Everybody counted us out at the beginning of the year, but we made
another run and we did good.”
Bethlehem managed to piece together an 11-0 spurt after falling
behind by 23, with Peake, Taylor and Chris Hurst each hitting
three-pointers to pull within 57-45. Peake had a chance with 1:37 left
to perhaps get the deficit down to single digits, but his three try
rimmed off and Bardstown’s Montrez Railley claimed the rebound.
“The biggest thing in basketball is it’s all about matchups,”
Bethlehem coach Chris Taylor said. “Tonight, for whatever reason, I
tried every (lineup) combination I could think of, and I didn’t get the
right one until late in the game. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get
that combination earlier. Maybe it would have been a different outcome.”
Railley and Riney, who scored nine apiece, each hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to set the final margin.
Galloway ended up scoring 14. Taylor led Bethlehem with 14, and Peake finished with 11.