New style, same result
Butler grinds out win over Central Valley
MONACA — Forced to slow down Saturday night, Butler adjusted — and won at another speed.
The Golden Tornado were held to a season-low 59 points, but managed a 59-47 boys basketball victory over Central Valley at the Community College of Beaver County Dome. The win gave Butler (8-1) the Blue Division championship of the C.J. Betters Holiday Classic.
“This was another learning experience for us,” sophomore guard Ethan Morton said. “We like to run, but we showed we can grind it out if we have to.”
A lay-up by Tarik Taoufik — who scored a career-high 21 points — gave Butler an 8-6 lead with 2:20 left in the first quarter. The Tornado never lost that lead, but didn't manage a double-digit advantage until the third quarter.
Central Valley (4-4) pulled within 35-31 on consecutive lay-ups by Nico Gagliuso — one off an offensive rebound — with 30 secomds left in the third period.
“We saw how well they ran against Beaver (Friday night) and we definitely didn't want that,” Warriors coach Brandon Ambrose said. “We got them to play at a pace we were comfortable with.
“But they play well in half-court and in transition.”
Morton scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Tornado pulled away. Consecutive lay-ups by Morton opened up a 45-35 lead with 5:17 remaining and Central Valley never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Butler's lead peaked at 14 (59-45) on a pair of Taoufik free throws with 32 seconds left.
“Tarik knows how to get open down low and he takes a quick-shot so nobody can block it,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “He's not a big forward and he's up against much bigger defenders in there.
“He's a big part of this offense when we have to work the ball around like that.”
Morton had seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals to go with his 21 points. Luke Michalek had four rebounds and three assists, Luke Patten eight points and a pair of assists off the bench.
“I was pleased with our defense tonight,” Clement said. “We held them to 17 points in the first half and most of those were on put-backs by their big guy.”
Josh Kline, Central Valley's 6-foot-8 senior center, scored 11 of his team's 17 points in the first half. He had 25 points and 13 rebounds on the night.
“Josh had a great game. I hate to think what this might have looked like without him,” Ambrose said.
Kline grabbed 11 of his 13 rebounds in the first half. Butler was out-boarded 21-10 in the first two quarters, but had a 15-12 rebounding edge in the second half.
“That will be a constant battle for us because we're not very big,” Clement said. “Luke and John Michalek were scrappy in there in the second half, deflecting rebounds away from their big guy and keeping plays alive.”
But Taoufik may have been the difference on this night.
“My job is to find ways to get open along the baseline,” he said. “We've got two of the best guards in the WPIAL, mybe the state, and if you get open, they'll find you.
“You have to stay alert, always pay attention. That pass could be coming from anywhere.”
Morton said he knows to look for Taoufik.
“He's a very intelligent player. He knows what he's doing out there and he finishes plays,” Morton said.
Butler travels to North Allegheny Friday night as it returns to section play. Central Valley returns to Class 4A section play Friday.
“Just because you lose to a good team doesn't mean you're OK with the loss,” Ambrose said. “Every time we were in position to close the gap, we'd dribble the ball off our foot or something.
“We didn't play well. If we had played well, I think we might have won this game.”
CENTRAL VALLEY 47
Owen Smith 0-5 0-0 0, Nico Gagliuso 3-11 0-0 6, Brandon Graham 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler Walker 4-10 1-1 10, Josh Kline 11-15 3-3 25, Chase Morrison 0-3 1-2 1, Jawan Hall 2-4 0-0 5. Totals: 20-49 6-8 47.
Luke Michalek 1-6 0-0 3, John Michalek 1-3 0-1 2, Doug Kostelansky 0-0 0-0 0, Mattix Clement 0-0 0-0 0, Tarik Taoufik 8-10 5-7 21, Luke Patten 3-6 0-0 8, Mason Montag 1-1 0-0 2, Ethan Morton 8-17 4-4 21, Dom Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Isaiah Scribner 1-1 0-0 2, Nick Stazer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-45 9-12 59.
Central Valley 9 8 14 16 — 47
Butler10 15 12 22 — 59
3-point goals: Walker; L.Miochalek, Patten 2, Morton