Butler High boys’ basketball has never been this good this long.
The Bulldogs completed the first undefeated regular season in school history by holding off rival Independence 52-48 in the regular season finale at a packed Independence gym. Butler (24-0, 12-0 Southwestern 4A) got a huge third quarter from Gerrale Gates and opportunistic defensive stops to wrap up the milestone.
“I’m going to enjoy it because I’ve been on the other end and it’s no fun,” Butler coach Myron Lowery said. “I’ve had so many different types of teams you’ve got enjoy it and I told them any negative things I have I’m going to save them for Monday. Nothing negative. Everything’s a positive.”
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Gates, a forward paced the Bulldogs with 20 points, including 12 in the third quarter as Butler outscored Independence 19-10 to lead 43-33 going into the final eight minutes.
“We ran (different) ways to get him the ball,” Lowery said. “That was our initial plan. I think we got out of it a little after the first timeout of the quarter and we were getting away from what we do. We’re an inside first, outside second and we kept feeding him, then he got that look in his eye and we kept feeding him. That third quarter was probably the deciding factor.”
Zane Rankin added 12 for Butler, which couldn’t put Independence in the fourth quarter as the Patriots (19-5, 10-2) rallied to within 48-46 on Chea Johnson’s drive late. The Bulldogs’ defense came up with a couple of stops, however, to seal the victory.
Victor Tshiona led the Patriots with 14 points while Matthew Smith chipped in 10.
NO. 1 BUTLER 52, NO. 2 INDEPENDENCE 48
Butler 13 11 19 9-52
Independence 12 11 10 15-48
Butler – Gerrale Gates 20, Zane Rankin 12, Stowe 8, Little 5, Carter 4, Barrett 2, Stitt 1.
Independence – Victor Tshiona 14, Matthew Smith 10, Mobley 5, Statile 5, Johnson 4, McKee 4, Bonar 3, Milton 3.
Records: Butler 24-0, 12-0 Southwestern 4A; Independence 19-5, 10-2. Southwestern 4A.