VANDALIA — The Butler girls basketball team came into the game against Tipp on Wednesday with significant hurdles to overcome. Without their leading scorer and rebounder, Tyree Fletcher, who is recovering from an ankle injury, the Aviators would need to search for offense against one of the best statistical defenses in the league.
They didn’t find it. The Lady Red Devils held Butler to just six made field goals and 11 points through three quarters en route to a 41-22 victory at the Butler Student Activities Center. The win kept Tippecanoe (6-1 all, 5-0 GWOC) in sole possession of first place in the GWOC North and dropped Butler To 4-5 overall and 3-2 in league play.
“Not having Tyree lets all the focus of the defense be on Abbie (Schoenherr) and anytime she drives she has three people on her,” said Butler head coach Molly Bardonaro. “She has yet to get any calls or any sympathy from anyone. She gets hammered pretty good in there.”
Both teams struggled on offense early. Tipp took a 2-0 lead on a pair of free throws three minutes into the game, and Butler’s Evan Neely responded with a pair of her own to tie the game at 2-2. Butler’s first field goal came with just 2:55 left in the first period as Abbie Shoenherr connected for a three-pointer to give the Aviators their only lead of the night. Tipp Took the lead for good with 1:25 in the first on a basket by Ashleigh Mader.
“We are doing a better job on defense now, and that’s something we’ve been working on all year,” said Tippecanoe head coach Andy Holderman. “Our focus this week was on getting back to fundamentals, play good defense, and being there for our teammates with help. For three quarters we did a pretty good job.”
Tipp made its move in the second period with a 13-3 run. Butler’s lone basket in the period was a three-pointer by Caitlin Plummer that briefly cut Butler’s deficit to 9-8, but a 10-0 run over the final 6:20 of the half gave Tipp just about all the points they would need.
Unfortunately, things got worse for the Aviators in the third quarter. Tipp hit back to back three-pointers to to fuel a 10-0 run that forced Butler to call time with 3:39 left in the quarter. Gracie Price scored Butler’s first point of the half by making a free throw and then, with just 9 seconds left she scored the Aviator’s first made shot of the quarter. By that time, however, Tipp had blown out to a 37-11 lead, its largest of the game.
“We’ve struggled on offense quite a bit this season, but nothing like this,” said Bardonaro. “We just didn’t show up tonight. I don’t know what else to say about it. I’m at a loss. I have a lot of thinking to do. We just aren’t executing right now.”
Butler turned the tables a bit in the final stanza as they outscored Tipp 11-4 on baskets by Plummer, Olivia Follick, Schoenherr, and a three-pointer by Price.
Holderman said that with relatively young team, the Lady Devils are still learning.
“This whole thing is a learning process,” he said. “There’s a lot of inexperience out here and we are still trying to figure out who we are.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.