Butler guts out win
'Easy Street' turns into rough road for Tornado
AMBRIDGE — Ethan Morton stepped to the line, sank a pair of free throws and Butler was seemingly on Easy Street Monday night at Ambridge.
Twelve-point lead with 55 seconds to play.
Easy Street turned into a rough road before the Golden Tornado were finally able to secure a 72-67 non-conference boys basketball victory.
“We proved we aren't a one-man team tonight,” Butler coach Matt Clemnent said.
After Morton's free throws gave the Tornado (3-0) their biggest lead of the night at 68-56, the Bridgers went on an 8-0 run in just 23 seconds. Aaron Hilzendeger sank a pair of technical free throws, then drove to the hoop for a lay-up. Morton fouled out on the play and Hilzendeger completed the three-point play.
An immediate Butler turnover resulted in a Dozhay Crumb trey and Ambridge (2-1) trailed just 68-64 with 32 seconds to play.
“Our guys never quit. We played hard throughout,” Ambridge coach Mark Jula said. “We had it going our way there for a while.”
With Morton watching from the bench, Butler worked the ball around the perimeter before finding Isaiah Scribner down low. Scribner calmly laid the ball in the basket with 20 seconds to go.
Luke Patten added a pair of free throws with four seconds left before Hilzendweger canned a harmless trey at the buzzer.
“No doubt, that (Scribner) bucket was the biggest play of this game,” Clement said. “I told the five guys on the floor for us at that time. That was all about stepping up in a key situation.
“We took a double-digit lead in the first half without Ethan shooting the ball. We've become a better team through these first three games.”
Butler never trailed in the contest and has yet to trail in a game this season. Morton led the Tornado with 28 points, seven assists and four rebounds. He fouled out with 48 seconds remaining.
The Tornado had a 33-22 lead at halftime despite Morton attempting only four shots from the field and sinking one field goal.
“He's a special player and he took over the game when we made a run in the second half,” Jula said. “I thought we played him tough tonight, though. We tried to frustrate him.
“That kid is a handful, I want to tell you. And he's got a good supporting cast out there with him.”
Tarik Taoufik had 14 points and three steals for Butler. Luke Michalek had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, Scribner 10 points.
Ambridge had a 30-24 edge on the boards.
“We are much bigger than them. We needed to control the boards better than we did,” Jula said.
“Great job boxing out,” Clement said, a broad smile coming across his face.
Hilzendeger led the Bridgers with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Monterey Carpenter scored a game-high 23 points, sinking seven treys. He hit five treys in the third quarter as Ambridge pulled within two.
“If we play as well as we did tonight, we'll win a lot of games,” Jula said. “Not many teams have a kid like Ethan Morton on their team.”
The game was part of the Brett Jula Uncensored Showcase — two varsity games featuring the four high school basketball programs the late Brett Jula was associated with as a youngster. He was killed in a car crash at age 29.
Central Valley defeated Shaler 55-35 in the first game.
Proceeds from the event raised money for the Brett Juila Memorial Scholarship at Florida State University.
“This was a good cause and a great game,” Clement said.
Luke Michalek 4-7 2-5 12, John Michalek 0-2 0-0 0, Tarik Taoufik 7-8 0-1 14, Luke Patten 1-4 2-2 5, Ethan Morton 7-14 14-18 28, Isaiah Scribner 4-4 2-3 10, Nick Stazer 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Clement 1-4 0-0 3. Totals: 24-43 20-28 72.
Tay Lindsey 2-6 1-2 5, Monterey Carpenter 8-12 0-0 23, Noah Campalong 1-2 1-1 3, Aaron Hilzendeger 7-16 4-4 21, Liam Buck 1-3 1-4 3, Desmond Council 1-5 0-0 3, De'Marri Jones 1-3 0-0 2Dozhay Crumb 3-4 0-2 7. Totals: 25-50 7-12 67.
Butler 17 16 15 24 — 72
Ambridge12 10 22 23 — 67
3-point goals: L.Michalek 2, Patten, Clement; Carpernter 7, Council, Hilzendeger, Crumb