Myers Park boys’ basketball coach Wes Hepler said he didn’t make any major adjustments at halftime on Friday of his team’s home game against Butler.
Whatever he did do worked.
The Mustangs, who trailed by eight at halftime, outscored the Bulldogs 57-30 in the second half to upset Sweet 16 No. 13 Butler 78-59.
“Honestly I said I thought we played pretty well in the first half, but we didn’t finish opportunities near the rim,” Hepler said. “I just told them to keep playing and stay relaxed and have fun. There was no pressure on us. We just wanted to go out there and play.”
The second-half charge was led by junior Zaqwuan Matthews, who had just one point in the first half but scored the first six of the second and finished with 20.
Senior Juwan Davenport had 15 points in the second half, finishing with 19. Senior Jake Hackworth had a game-high 21, including three crucial 3-pointers in the third quarter that helped the Mustangs (13-6, 5-3) pull away.
“I just was going to be more aggressive on the offensive end. I was being kind of timid,” Matthews said. “We thought we were unstoppable (in the second half). ... It was a good run.”
The Myers Park win came without the help of Austin Dasent, who didn’t play or dress for the game. Dasent had been leading the team in scoring this season, averaging more than 19 points per game.
“Obviously Austin was a huge part of our season up until now,” Hepler said. “I think, especially having three days in a row with no practice, I think we were a little bit, definitely unsure at the beginning, because we’re so used to him controlling the ball. A lot of stuff went through him. ... But we’re still a team.”
Butler (13-5, 6-2), which came into the game tied for first place in the Southwestern 4A conference, had control early.
The Bulldogs led 14-7 after the first quarter and started the second quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 24-9 lead with five minutes left in the half.
Myers Park outscored Butler 12-5 the rest of the second quarter to cut the Bulldog lead to 29-21 at halftime.
The Bulldogs’ backcourt struggled to score in the second half.
Giavonni Mack scored just four points in the second half after scoring 10 in the first. Raequan Scott (9) had just five in the second half.
Matthew Fisher-Davis had 13 points but was in foul trouble for much of the second half.
The Mustangs kept cutting into the Butler lead in the third quarter. A free throw by Alcyone Moore tied the game at 34 with 2:51 left in the period, and Myers Park took the lead 10 seconds later on a Matthews dunk.
Butler retook the lead on a Fisher-Davis 3-pointer, but Hackworth answered with back-to-back 3s to give Myers Park the lead for good in front of a loud home crowd.
“The crowd was great,” Hepler said. “The energy in here was outstanding. And of course when you’re playing like that and everything’s dropping and you’re getting transition buckets, it seems like an easy game.”
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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