Butler guards key win
Tornado get stellar play from backcourt
BUTLER TWP — When Butler's guards play well, the game speeds up — and the score differential widens.
Altoona fell victim to such a game, falling behind by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter in dropping a 77-64 non-section boys basketball game to the Golden Tornado.
Ethan Morton paced Butler (11-1) — which won its fifth straight game — with 24 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. All nine of his assists occurred in the first half.
Fellow guard Luke Michalek tallied 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“We have two point guards and when they're playing like they did tonight, we definitely play faster,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “Everything picks up speed.
“Tarik (Taoufik) gets easy buckets at the other end on fast breaks because he's hustling down the floor ahead of everybody.”
Taoufik had 13 points and three steals for Butler. The Tornado had a double-digit lead by early in the second quarter, a 15-point lead at halftime and a 25-point lead, 77-52, with two minutes to play.
Colby Anderson sank the trey to give Butler that 25-point edge as the starters were well out of the game by then.
Butler had a 29-22 edge in rebounds and Altoona (3-6) was plagued by 20 turnovers that aided the Tornado's transition game.
“I've never seen Luke play this fast,” Clement said. “In the nine years I've been here, he's the best pure athlete I've ever coached.
“But if you're not clearing the boards, it doesn't matter how fast your guards are. You have to get the ball.”
Morton sank 13 of 14 free throws in the contest and the Mountain Lions did not get to the foul line until the fourth quarter.
That fact wasn't lost on Altoona coach Doug West, who played 12 years in the NBA, nine with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I'm not in the NBA now, so I can't get fined for talking about the officials,” West said. “I'll just tell like it us. Those guys were horrible.
“We pulled within eight or 10 points and they go on a 6-0 run at the foul line. In my opinion, we weren't getting the same calls at our end.
“Those guys wait until late in the fourth quarter and decide to start calling fouls (on Butler). I don't go for that. That wasn't right,” West added.
The Mountain Lions committed a number of fouls guarding Morton.
“Some teams choose to play physical with him and Ethan winds up shooting 15 to 20 free throws,” Clement said. “He can beat you that way.”
Altoona (3-6) ended the game on a 12-0 run to make the final score a bit closer.
Max Crownover scored 14 points for Altoona. P.J. Charles netted 12 off the bench and Jayvion Queen had 10 points and six rebounds.
“I'm not sure what's going on with my team,” West said. “We have three guys back who played a lot of minutes last year for an 11-13 team. We didn't put the work in over the summer and that's showing.”
Butler returns to section action Friday night, hosting Central Catholic.
“I told the guys before the game, tonight is one of the most important games of the season so far,” Clement said. “We struggled over the weekend. We didn't want to come out and lay an egg tonight going into that Central game.
“We got off to a quick start and kept the momentum.”
K.J. Futrell 0-2 0-1 0, Max Crownover 6-11 0-0 14, Braden Burchfield 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler Barry 1-2 1-2 3, P.J. Charles 3-3 6-7 12, Nate Cherry 5-7 0-0 12, Connor Zerbee 0-0 0-0 0, Kurt VonColln 2-8 0-0 4, Tyl;er Petucci 2-3 0-0 4, Jayvion Queen 4-6 2-4 10, Tyler Becker 1-2 0-0 3, Jeremiah Crockett 1-1 0-0 2 . Totals: 25-47 9-14 64.
Luke Michalek 5-8 4-4 15, John Michalek 2-2 0-0 4, Doug Kostelansky 1-2 0-2 2, Mattix Clement 2-5 0-0 6, Tarik Taoufik 5-6 3-4 13, Luke Patten 1-6 0-1 2, Ethan Morton 5-24 13-14 24, Dom Schmidt 1-3 0-0 2, Isaiah Scribner 1-3 2-2 4, Nate Stazer 1-1 0-0 2, Colby Anderson 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 25-51 22-27 77.
Altoona 17 8 17 22 — 64
Butler23 17 16 21 — 77
3-point goals: Crownover 2, Becker, Cherry 2; L.Michalek, Clement 2, Morton, Anderson
JV: Altoona, 62-59 (A: Tyson Carter 14, Aaron Foose 14, K.J. Futrell 11; B: Mason Montag 21, Anthony Malloy 11, Kevin King 10)