Bethlehem holds off Bullitt East 70-65 in Sweet 16

Bethlehem holds off Bullitt East 70-65 in Sweet 16
Bethlehem head coach Jason Clark (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WAVE) - Bethlehem outscored Bullitt East 24-19 in the fourth quarter and handed the Chargers a 70-65 defeat in the opening round of the Girls Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena.

Ella Thompson led the Banshees with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Her jumper gave them a 28-25 halftime lead.

Bullitt East tied the game at the end of the third quarter on a Lexi Starr three-pointer. It was all even at 46.

Gracie Merkle led the Chargers with 27 points and 18 rebounds and she put them in front 48-46 with 7:51 remaining.

Amelia Hodges put Bethlehem back in front at 55-54 with 4:53 to play and Thompson followed with a three to extend the lead to 58-54.

“It’s our last go around, we want to give it everything we got,” Thompson said. “We don’t want to end our high school careers and feel like we had unfinished business.”

Bullitt East threatened one more time. A Lilly Reid three-pointer with :24 seconds left got them within 66-65, but the Banshees closed it out with free throws by Carlie Thurmond and Thompson.

They advance to the quarterfinals with a 70-65 win.

“I kept telling the girls in the time outs it was going to come down to who wanted it the most and who made the plays down the stretch and we’re grateful that we made the right plays when we had to,” Bethlehem head coach Jason Clark said.

“We came here with plans and desires to play after today, and so, we didn’t get that done,” Bullitt East head coach Chris Stallings said, ”but it’s certainly not gonna diminish what we’ve accomplished this year or how we played the game today.”

The Chargers finish 22-3. Bethlehem (26-4) advances to a quarterfinal match up with Marshall County (23-2) on Friday at 5 p.m. The Lady Marshals beat Pikeville 56-52 in the opener on Friday.

Bethlehem beat Marshall County 67-60 on January 8.

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