CENTERVILLE – After a hot start, the Butler Aviators spent most of the second half repelling every attempt Northmont made to tie or lead the game. The Thunderbolts earned their only tie with 1:13 to play and never lead until the game’s final seconds, but it was enough as Northmont ended Butler’s late-season surge 60-57 in the second round of the OHSAA Centerville Sectional Tournament.
Butler ended the season 13-11, their first winning season since 2011-12.
“They competed their butts off,” said Butler coach DJ Wyrick. “It was a game where you get a bad break at the end after you play a hell of a game and the bad break at the end costs you.”
Butler’s bad break came in the form of a slick spot on the floor. The Aviators gained possession on a held ball with 23 seconds left clinging to a 57-56 lead. While bringing the ball up court, Miles Joiner slipped and fell to the floor. The subsequent loose ball led to a Northmont layup and their first lead of the game.
“I told Miles the game didn’t come down to that final possession,” said Wyrick. “We missed some free throws, certain possessions that we got away from what got us there – those things hurt us more than one possession down the stretch.”
Wyrick was likely referring to midway through the fourth quarter when the Aviators led 54-48 and had the ball but couldn’t extend the lead. Northmont’s defense forced the Aviators to be out of rhythm as they held the Aviators without a made basket for over four minutes. Butler’s final 3 points were all on free throws, and they made just 3-of-6 in that stretch.
Butler had the Thunderbolts on their heels early. The Aviators jumped out to a 9-0 lead and Northmont didn’t score its first basket until the 4:05 mark. The ‘Bolts answered, however, and used a trio of three-pointers to cut the deficit to 19-15 at the end of the first quarter. Joiner had 13 points in the quarter and led all scorers with 28.
The game stayed tight throughout with Butler’s lead getting as high as six but Northmont charging back.
While Wyrick was disappointed the season ended, he expressed pride in his second group of Aviators.
“I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “They played incredibly well. They were a true team as a group. They embraced their roles and had a heck of a season, the best season this school has had in a long time. They bought in. Once we learned to close games out it snowballed in a good way. The effort they gave, they left it all out there and played a hell of a game. I told them that will happen in life too – you will put all your effort and energy into one thing and it won’t quite work out. What do you do after that? You get up and get back after it. That’s a good lesson for them but obviously its disappointing.”
V-B 19 32 45 57 – 57
NMT 15 29 44 60 – 60
Butler: Miles Joiner 28, Michael Kreill 6, Braedon Norman 2, Tyler Burley 11, Bryant Johnson 2, Nathan Stogdill 2, Quentin Glover 6. Totals: 22-8-57.
Northmont: Anthony Dorsey 4, Jabari Perkins 5, Rodney Richardson 12, Christian Wilson 9, Maurice Beavers 8, Vinson Walker 4, Arius Spears 11, Tyree Trammell 2, Donavin Wallace 3, DaLonte Capers 2. Totals: 23-9-60.
3-point goals: Butler 5 (Joiner 3, Burley, Glover); Northmont 5 (Wilson 2, Perkins, Spears, Wallace).
Records: Butler 13-11, Northmont 19-4.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.