Morton's 38 key Butler victory
SHALER TWP — Ethan Morton was hot.
But it was his coolness that ultimately helped the Butler boys basketball team to another win.
The sophomore point guard scored 38 points — 19 in each half — and dealt with constant pressure, physicality and jawing from Shaler to lead the Golden Tornado to an 82-58 road section win over the Titans.
“That's what you work for,” Morton said, smiling. “You want guys up in your grill night in and night out.”
Morton had virtually every Shaler player in his grill. It didn't matter. Morton was still as dominant as ever.
And quiet. And composed. He didn't take the Titans' — or their raucous fans' — bait.
“That's part of the game he works on, how to handle that,” said Butler coach Matt Clement. “You want to talk — that's human tendency — but he didn't. That's what I'm most proud of tonight, not just the 38 points and the other things he did.”
The final score didn't tell an accurate story of how closely contested this game was.
After leading for the first 161 minutes of the season, Butler (6-0, 2-0) trailed for the first time when Kevin McHale hit a deep 3-pointer for Shaler a minute into the game. Butler was down again 9-8 after three minutes, but never trailed again.
Shaler (4-2, 1-1), was down by just two points at 49-47 midway through the third quarter before Butler switched up its defense and personnel and went on a 21-2 run to put the game away.
“We had a long team in there and that's what keyed the run,” Clement said.
Butler had five tall and lanky players on the floor and went to a 1-3-1 zone. That caused a slew of turnovers by the Titans and the Tornado turned them into easy points in transition.
By the time Shaler regrouped, it was too late.
“Our length is off the charts,” Morton said.
So was Morton, who shot 13 of 23 from the floor and 11 of 12 from the free throw line for another big night in what has been a stream of them this season.
Morton, though, said he was pressing in the first half. Butler had foul trouble and the offense “was stagnant,” Morton said.
Still, the Golden Tornado maintained a lead.
“At the beginning we had a lot of fouls and a lead and I was stuck between, 'Do I bring some of my foul guys back in with a lead or don't I?,' Clement said.
“I thought our role players, our guys off the bench, did a great job holding the fort,” Clement added. “More of the creating is on Ethan and sometimes that looks like he's pressing. But I thought he controlled the game well.”
Tarik Taoufik added 15 points for Butler and Luke Patten contributed nine points off the bench on three 3-pointers.
Kiki Agbale led Shaler with 15 points. He scored eight during a short stretch in the third quarter that helped the Titans draw to within a basket before Butler's prodigious run.
“To get a road win in this section against a team that I think is going to win a lot of games in this section is big for us,” Clement said.
It was also big for Morton, especially winning in such a hostile environment.
“It's special, man,” Morton said. “That's what you play for.”
Luke Michalek 3-6 0-0 6, John Muchalek 1-3 0-0 3, Tarik Taoufik 6-10 1-2 15, Ethan Morton 13-23 11-12 38, Isaiah Scribner 1-1 2-2 4, Luke Patten 3-6 0-0 9, Mason Montag 0-0 0-0 0, Doug Kostelansky 0-0 0-0 0, Dom Schmidt 1-1 1-2 3, Nick Stazer 1-1 0-0 2, Ben Kranbacher 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 30-47 15-17 82.
Kevin McHale 2-7 4-5 10, Jesse Tavella 3-9 2-5 10, Mikhi Reynolds 3-8 3-4 9, Kiki Agbale 5-7 5-7 15, Luke Benout 0-0 0-0 0, Justin DeSabato 1-4 2-2 4, Matt Tavella 3-11 2-5 10, Luke Grunden 1-2 0-0 2, Nick Rispati 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 18-47 16-23 58.
Butler 24 15 24 19 — 82
Shaler20 16 13 9 — 58
3-point goals: J.Michalek, Taoufik 2, Morton, Patten 3; McHale 2, J.Tavella 2, M.Tavella 2