CENTERVILLE — Despite being voted the three seed in the Dayton sectional, the Aviators may have gotten the toughest route to District. The played out on Wednesday at Centerville High School as the Aviators faced a dangerous Fairmont team better than their record indicated and ended their breakout season in a 58-43 loss to the Firebirds.
The lost left the Aviators with a 19-4 record while Fairmont improved to 15-9. The Firebirds will face Miamisburg on Saturday in the district semifinal.
Butler came into the contest on a 12-day layoff due to a first round bye, and the rust was evident as Butler struggled to hit shots. Bothered by the length of Fairmont, Butler shot just 14-42 from the field, or 29 percent.
“We got inside of their defense a lot but we weren’t finishing plays,” said Butler head coach DJ Wyrick. “Their length really bothered us and when we got inside instead of attacking their bodies at the rim we were fading away from contact and you can see that from how few free throws we shot. Matchups were a nightmare with these guys because not only are they long but they are athletic and they can handle the ball.”
The Aviators took nearly four minutes to get on the scoreboard to open the game, and Braedon Norman’s three-pointer with 4:21 to play in the first gave Butler its only lead of the game at 3-2. A timeout by Fairmont two minutes later led to the Firebirds closing the quarter on a 5-0 run to claim a 7-3 lead.
Butler’s Kort Justice lit up the scoreboard early in the second period with seven points to cut Fairmont’s lead to 11-10, bet each time the Aviators closed to within a point the Firebirds had an answer. Ryan Wertz also cut the Fairmont lead to a point after a three-pointer with 4:42 left in the half, but Fairmont went on an 8-0 run to claim a 22-13 lead.
Only a three by Norman with 1:10 left kept the Aviators within striking distance at 22-16 at half.
Michael Kreill hit the first shot of the second half to get Butler to within four at 22-18, but a 7-0 run by Fairmont pushed the lead to 29-18 midway through the third quarter that forced the Aviators to call time.
Butler responded with back to back three pointers by Norman and Justice to cut the deficit t0 31-24, but the Firebirds responded to claim a 38-28 lead at the end of three quarters.
Fairmont opened the final period with a basket to take their largest lead at 40-28 and the Aviators were never able to get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
While the loss was tough, Wyrick said he was proud of the way the team laid a solid foundation for Butler basketball going forward.
“These seniors have built a foundation for the future,” said Wyrick. “Last year we started to turn the corner and this year we proved we are a program and not just a team. The program will be there without the seniors, without me, because we’ve established something bigger. I’m proud of our senior class – they hung the first banner in 15 years. It’s unfortunate we have an early exit like this.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU