As high school basketball came to a close last week, it left some historic memories to say the least. It ended with Lindsey Duvall of Bullitt East High School earning the coveted honors of Miss Basketball, along with Fern Creek making a deep run in its first state tournament appearance.
During the ceremonies of Kentucky’s Mister and Miss Basketball at the Lexington Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom, it was a race between Lindsey Duvall and Butler’s Jaelynn Penn as to who would earn Miss Basketball honors.
Both had incredible senior seasons. Penn led Butler in ending Duvall’s high school career in the sixth region championship. But it was Lindsey – the University of Louisville signee – who would win Miss Basketball. Duvall averaged 23.6 points and 8.3 rebounds this year, and led Bullitt East to a 27-8 record overall.
Perhaps the most impressive milestone to Duvall’s high school career was becoming the all-time leading scorer in Bullitt East history. She scored 2,957 points for her career and will be remembered by many in the Bullitt East community.
Duvall described the feeling of winning Miss Basketball as “pure joy” and as something the team and community all deserve.
“We have been pretty close over the years and I will miss that,” said Bullitt East coach Chris Stallings of Duvall, who has played varsity since seventh grade. “We’ve had a good solid program here for years, and she is probably going to leave here at the top of that list. There are a lot of kids that will look up to her and want to be the next Lindsey Duvall. She’s too young to understand that now, but two or three years, she will be able to. So I think that is important. You always want to raise the bar for the next generation of players, and I think she has done that.”
While Duvall won Miss Basketball, Fern Creek was preparing to have a memorable first appearance in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen. In their debut game, they played Hopkinsville, which was the last team that beat the Tigers in the regular season in a 78-58 loss back on January 7.
Two months later, it would be a different story. The Tigers took care of business in their first state tournament win after they avenged their earlier loss to Hopkinsville in an 81-64 victory at Rupp Arena.
It would earn them a quarterfinal match-up against another Louisville team. Ballard would win their opening round game versus Taylor County, and next up was the Tigers. The teams played three times during the regular season, with the Creek winning them all. It was no different in the tourney. Fern Creek beat Ballard for a fourth straight time, 55-52, in a thriller.
It wasn’t the best performance by the Tigers, who had 30 turnovers in the game, but they were able to fight through adversity and get a win.
As Fern Creek was looking to steamroll into the state final, they ran into a team in Cooper who would pump their breaks and bring their historic season to an end after a 51-44 loss to the Jaguars.
Fern Creek, who averaged 74.4 points a game, was held to 44 points, four points below what Cooper has allowed to its opponents (49.1).
Coach James Schooler said he knew it would be a tough four games in four days but that they came into the game feeling great. He said that game “was not a good day, but we’ll learn to pick our heads up and get better and get back on the high horse.”
Fern Creek’s state championship hopes came to an end, but it was still a historic season nonetheless. It was a season filled with a lot of firsts for the Tigers. After 88 years, Fern Creek won the Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament (LIT) for the first time. The Tigers would then be ferocious against Doss – who had won the sixth region the past two seasons – beating them in the sixth region championship to earn their first regional title in program history.
They would then go on to win their first game in their first state tournament appearance and outlast Ballard as the best team in the city of Louisville. It’s quite remarkable for a program that had milestone after milestone this season.
High school basketball has come to a close, but once again it was a year filled with joy, tears, record, and milestones of coaches and teenagers committed to giving and leaving their all on the court. VT