VANDALIA — One of the strengths of this year’s version of the Butler Aviators is depth. That was on display Friday night when Butler hosted Shawnee in the season opener.
Seven different players scored led by Braedon Norman’s 14 points and 10 from Kort Justice as the Aviators withstood a late charge to win 47-39.
“We need to learn to put teams away when we should,” said Butler head coach DJ Wyrick. “The thing that was good is that we won a game where we made some mistakes late so now we can learn from those but not in a loss. There were possessions we were up double digits with two minutes left and instead of using clock we attacked the rim. Shawnee is a very well coached team – he gets the most out of what they have.”
After a slow start that saw Shawnee take their only lead of the game at 3-0, six different Aviators scored points in a 15-2 run that opened up a 15-5 lead with a minute to play in the first quarter.
Trey Sanders provided a spark off the bench with two baskets during the run.
“Trey brought some energy when he came into the game,” said Wyrick. “He’s helping us a lot coming off the bench. Typically you lose a little, but he’s a heck of a kid to be bringing off the bench. He’s adding energy and is playing really good.”
Shawnee cut the lead to five to open the second period, but an 8-2 run capped off by a three-pointer by Norman gave Butler its largest lead of the half at 23-12. The Braves responded with back-to back threes and a pair of free throws to get within three at the half 25-22.
“I thought we came out in the second half and started chucking threes,” said Wyrick. “I wrote on the board at half that we were 9-of-12 from two in the first half and 2-for-10 from three. To be fair, the shots we took weren’t terrible – they were in and out and just weren’t falling. They made a run when we were shooting more threes and not getting the ball inside.”
Butler will play again on Saturday when they travel to Beavercreek. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Beavercreek is a more athletic version of Shawnee,” said Wyrick, “and that’s a very tough place to play.”
Butler jumped on the Braves to open the third quarter with a pair of baskets by Sutton Skapik and a three by Justice to build a 34-23 lead that forced Shawnee to call time.
Butler maintained a double digit through the first four minutes of the final period, but a pair of baskets forced Wyrick to call time with 1:09 left with the Aviators clinging to a 43-36 lead. Ryan Wertz scored Butler’s final two baskets to set the final score.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.