The Butler Bulldogs boys’ basketball team has had quite a week. Last Friday Butler won the Southwestern 4A regular-season title outright with a hard-fought win over Independence, and they haven’t lost since.
The Bulldogs set a school record with 15 three-pointers in route to an 85-66 win over the Myers Park Mustangs Friday at Independence to win the three-game conference tournament. Five Butler players finished in double figures including D.L. Little who had a game-high 27 for the Bulldogs, including seven 3-pointers.
Davrion Greer had 20 for the Mustangs while Zalian Peeler added 18 and Henry Richards 13 for Myers Park.
“We’re really enjoying it right now, we’ll enjoy the moment but the state-playoff brackets come out tomorrow (Saturday),” said Butler coach Myron Lowery. “We’ll enjoy this tonight and start concentrating on that.”
Leading by seven at halftime, the Bulldogs came out in the third quarter with seven 3-pointers including five by Little, to bump their lead up to 13.
Little, who captured the tournament MVP award, was deadly. “It’s all about my teammates,” said Little. “They penetrated; and then the collapse made two people guard them, and they kicked it out and I was wide open. I’ve got to keep knocking them down in the playoffs (state), we’ve got to get the chip.”
In the girls game Myers Park overcame a stubborn Butler team to eventually win 53-40. But the Bulldogs did not succumb until late in the 4th quarter. Mckenna Haire, who scored a game-high 16 points, had a big 3-pointer late along with two key free throws to secure the 13-point victory.
“I have to thank Chanin Scott (teammate) for getting it to me (on the late 3-point shot),” said Haire. “My teammates were looking for me, I was open and I knocked it down.”
With heavy losses to graduation entering this season, the Mustangs didn’t really miss a beat as they went 12-0 in conference play and won the conference tournament. One big reason was the leadership of Scott who had 13 points and won the girls tournament MVP award.
“This year we’ve really been focusing on team basketball,” said Scott. “Last year we had a very talented player who could make plays by herself. This year we had to bond as a team and use each others’ strengths, and I think that’s really helped us this year.”
Rinnah Green had 15 points for Butler with Fairen Sutton adding ten for the Bulldogs.
WORTH MENTIONING: In the Butler boys win, the Bulldogs only turned the ball over four times while going 15 of 22 from beyond the arc.
THREE WHO MATTERED: D.J. Little: Butler senior won the boys’ tournament MVP award while scoring 27 points in the final including seven 3-pointers. Five of his seven 3-pointer were in the third quarter.
Mckenna Haire: Myers Park girls’ junior shooting guard finished with a game-high 16 points including four 3-pointers.
Chanin Scott: Mustangs girls’ senior shooting forward finished with 13 points and won the girls tournament MVP award.
THEY SAID IT: “I think that has kind of been something we’ve been searching for all year, finding our identity, who we are and who we can be. When this group plays together as a team and runs our stuff, they’re hard to beat.” Myers Park girls coach Barbara Nelson describing this season’s Mustangs team.
RECORDS: Myers Park boys (15-11, 7-5), Butler boys (20-5, 11-1)
Myers Park girls (20-5, 12-0), Butler girls (19-8, 9-3)
WHAT’S NEXT: The NC State opening-round playoff games begin Tuesday.