VANDALIA — For the past three seasons, Butler girls basketball coach Molly Bardonaro has been searching for a signature win – a win against a team her young Aviators weren’t supposed to beat.
The Aviators found that win last Wednesday when they hosted Trotwood-Madison and came away with a 47-37 win in overtime.
“In my three seasons this is the biggest win we’ve had,” said Bardonaro. “It’s big. We have won 90% of the games we should win, and that’s hard to do, but now we have to start beating the teams we aren’t supposed to beat. It felt really good.”
The Lady Rams came into the SAC ranked fourth in the latest Associated Press state basketball poll, 9-2 overall, and unbeaten in league play.
Butler’s game plan coming into the contest was to slow down the Rams’ running game and limit possessions. It worked well in the first quarter as the Aviators held a 7-3 lead at the end of one.
”We wanted to limit possessions, even if that meant we had to stay on offense for a minute and a half or they had to do the same,” said Bardonaro. “They like to get out and run and get as many possessions as they can and we had to limit that.”
Trotwood picked up the pace in the second quarter and outscored the Aviators 11-2 to take a 14-9 lead into half. They extended the lead by two more at 26-19 at the end of the third.
“We kind of took a break for five minutes and got into a running game with them, but at halftime we fixed it,” said Bardonaro.
Butler has been a fourth quarter team all season, and they lived up to that reputation in a 9-2 period that forced overtime.
A tense first overtime period left the teams tied again at 33-33, but Butler got the upper hand in the second overtime after a three-pointer by Willow Knight gave the Aviators the lead for good.
“Willow got the ball wide open and we were all saying don’t shoot it but she popped it and it was like a dagger,” said Bardonaro. “My husband asked me after the game if I would have taken that shot and I told him heck yeah, I would have shot it.”
Solid free throw shooting down the stretch allowed the Aviators to pull away for the upset win.
Bardonaro credited her team’s mental toughness late in the game with contributing to the win.
“We had two players with four fouls late in the fourth quarter so we had to be patient and not be too aggressive,” Bardonaro said. “That takes a lot of discipline to play that way. I think mentally we finally cracked them because we kept hanging around and forcing them to play the way they don’t want to play.”
Knight led the Aviators with 16 points and six rebounds while Tyree Fletcher added 11 points and seven boards. Olivia Schoenherr and Brittney Petrosky had eight points each and Abbie Schoenherr added four points to round out the scoring.
Petrosky also had six rebounds and four assists. Olivia Schoenherr pulled pulled down seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
Bardonaro said a win over Trotwood-Madison could pay dividends as the tournament draw approaches.
“We needed a good win like this for our tournament draw to get a better seed. Our record is decent, but you have to have a win over a team you aren’t supposed to beat.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.