VANDALIA – The Butler Aviators came into Friday’s game versus Fairborn reeling from a five-game losing streak after a 3-0 start and searching for answers.
The answers were found in a balanced attack led by Michael Kreill’s 14 points, 13 from Tyler Burley, and eight points each from Miles Joiner and Nathan Stogdill that lead to a 55-43 win.
“We played much more loose tonight than we have been,” said Butler head coach DJ Wyrick. “We had been playing a little timid. Our student section really gets these guys going and playing hard and you saw that tonight.
“I’ve been begging for Kreill to score. Normally you don’t have to do that with kids but he is such a coach’s son, play the right way, run the team, he’s bought into that so much its hurt him a bit on the offensive end. I’ve been telling him he’s the guy – we need him to score.”
Burley had the defensive assignment on Fairborn’s leading scorer Branden Lilley who had 13 points but didn’t dominate a game in the way he can.
“Our plan was to be physical with Lilley and I told him (Burley) to send a message early, get up on him, get close to him, bump him a couple times, and Burley embraces that role, he likes being that guy,” said Wyrick. “Offensively the last few games he seemed to be waiting for it to come to him too much. He needed to get his confidence back and have fun out there. He did that tonight.”
Butler shot 60% from the field while making seven three-pointers.
Things didn’t start out so well for the Aviators, however. Fairborn eased out to a 6-0 lead before Butler made its first basket nearly five minutes into the game. Fairborn led 8-2 when Joiner and Bryant Johnson were both sent to the bench saddled with two fouls each.
A three pointer by Kreill jump started the Aviator offense which closed the first period on an 11-4 run that included a three by Burley and another by Kreill lifted the Aviators to a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Butler opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run that lifted the Aviators to a 24-12 advantage. Burley, Nathan Stogdill, Kreill, and Aaron Fields all scored during the run. Butler lead 29-19 at the half.
The Aviators led 42-32 heading into the final period. Fairborn applied pressure and cut the lead down to 49-43 but the Aviators made 6-of-9 free throws down the stretch to claim the win.
“I told them this week that we were 3-5 and could have won every one of the games we lost,” said Wyrick. “We had leads in the fourth quarter in every one of them. We need to get a couple wins here to get it back. After five losses in a row, practice stops being fun, but winning cures everything. We are excited now and looking forward to the grind. We have to get rolling to get a good seed in the tournament.”
The Aviators will host Stebbins on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.