VANDALIA – The Butler Lady Aviators came into Wednesday’s game versus Oakwood needing a win after dropping four of their last five contests.
Butler looked as if they may run away and hide after building a 22-10 lead late in the second quarter. The Jills tested the short-handed Aviators tough and closed to within five points late in the final period before outlasting Oakwood 38-32.
The Lady Aviators (6-4 overall, 2-3 GWOC North) entered the game short handed. Brittney Petrosky did not dress due to an ankle injury suffered last week, and Maddie Mitchell was not on the bench. Starter Tyree Fletcher became ill at half time and did not play after the break.
The Aviators looked to be in control early as they eased out to a 13-4 lead. Zoie Franklin helped Butler get on the board first with a steal and assist to Tyree Fletcher for a layup that opened scoring. A three-pointer by Willow Knight and then a steal and layup by Knight forced the visiting Jill’s to call time with 3:40 left in the first period trailing 11-4.
Butler took its largest lead of the game to open the second quarter on five quick points by Knight to lead 18-6. Points were at a premium the rest of the quarter as the Aviators led 20-10 at the half.
“We had open shots and just couldn’t hit them,” said Butler head coach Molly Bardanaro. “To be able to hang on and win, I’m fine with it. Just get us out of here with a win.”
The Aviators struggled to score early in the third and had just two points in the quarter when Bardanaro called time. Butler continued to struggle on offense and looked to be in trouble as Oakwood had closed to within five at 22-17.
That’s when Abbie Schoenherr hit back to back threes to close the period that lifted Butler to a 28-17 lead.
“Abbie is a sophomore and has stepped into that role and been forced to age quickly,” said Bardanaro. “She’s aggressive, doesn’t think, and isn’t afraid of anything. She’s doing a good job for us.”
Another three, this time by Olivia Schoenherr, put the cushion back at 12 early in the fourth quarter, but Oakwood didn’t go away. Their run came a little too late, though, as a three pointer by Kendall Ketterer got the Jill’s within five at 35-30 with 50 seconds left.
Butler hit 3-of-5 free throws in the final 44 seconds to set the final score.
“We have a tendency that when the other team hits a three or makes a little run to get down on ourselves,” said Bardanaro. “We have to learn that its going to happen – its part of basketball. Teams are going to score on us. We held them (Oakwood) to 32 which is about their average. We have to learn to keep going, keep attacking.”
Knight led the Aviators with 12 points. Olivia Schoenherr had 11 and Abbie Schoenherr 8.
The Lady Aviators will return to action Monday, Jan. 2 when they host Graham. JV plays at 6 and varsity will tip at 7:30.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.