Closing Act: Butler plays keep-away in 72-60 win over SV

John Enrietto Eagle Sports Editor

January 03, 2024 Last Updated: January 02, 2024 11:14 PM Sports

BUTLER TWP — A pair of Owen Congdon free throws pulled Seneca Valley within 60-54 with 6:22 left in the game.

Then Butler performed its closing act.


The Golden Tornado ran clock on possessions, ending most of them with points at the free throw line, and the Raiders went five minutes before scoring again.


That exchange added up to a 72-60 Golden Tornado boys basketball win in a mutual Section 1-6A opener in the Butler gym.

The win was Butler’s sixth in a row.

Butlers Donovan Cerney (2) with pressure from Senecas Esheza Okponobi (3) at Butler High School. (Steven Dalton Special to Butler Eagle) 1-2-2024

Braylon Littlejohn was at the point of Butler’s “keep away” game down the stretch.

“We executed that really well,” Tornado coach Matt Clement said. “Seneca Valley is well-coached and we knew we’d see some different things from them tonight.

“They had a unique defense on Braylon to begin the game and made him slow in getting started offensively.”

Seneca Valley (3-9, 0-1) got started rather quickly.

An 11-0 run gave SV a 20-8 lead six minutes intio the game. Butler (8-1, 1-0) responded with a 10-0 run of its own to make sure the Raiders didn’t build an insurmountable lead.

Butler outscored SV 22-10 in the second quarter to take a 40-33 lead into halftime. That lead was six points going into the fourth quarter.

“They are very effective when they’ve got the lead late,” Raiders coach Kevin Trost said of the Tornado. “I think Littlejohn is the best player in all of WPIAL 6A.

“He makes great decisions with the ball, can go to the hoop, shoot the 3 ... He does everything well. He was on the finishing end of a lot of those long possessions (in the fourth quarter). We tried putting a man and a half on him and contained him early, but not for very long.”

While the Raiders were in their scoring drought late, the Tornado got four free throws from Littlejohn, three from Ayden Davis and one from Stainton Forbes to put the game away.

“We don’t practice that all that much,” Littlejohn said of extending possessions late in games. “We play well together and it’s just a matter of finding the open man and looking for the right shot.”

Littlejohn led the Tornado with 30 points, five rebounds and four assists. He sank four treys. Forbes scored 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and had two steals off the bench.

“Stainton is a good kid who works hard and really enjoys the game,” Clement said. “He’s earned his success and to have this kind of game in our section home opener ... I’m really happy for him.”

Littlejohn said Forbes “has all the tools. He can shoot from outside, plays good defense, can jump out of the gym. He’s become a big asset to the team and I love playing with him.”

Congdon led the Raiders with 21 points and four rebounds. Tyler Pepin had 15 points, Kai West eight rebounds.

“I’m not a moral victory kind of coach, but we did a lot of good things tonight,” Trost said. “Butler is a very good basketball team. When they pushed, we pused back.

“We hung in this game. This is definitely something we can grow from.”


Owen Congdon 7-13 6-7 21, Esheza Okponobi 2-5 1-2 6, Tyler Pepin 6-12 2-2 15, Andrew Omasits 2-3 2-2 7, Kai West 1-5 0-0 2, Jaxon Householder 3-5 0-0 9, Nico Santapau 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-43 11-14 60


Mavrik Clement 0-0 0-0 0, Donovan Carney 2-6 2-2 7, Ayden Davis 0-3 3-4 3, Braylon Littlejohn 9-10 6-9 30, Tayt Lucas 2-5 2-2 8, Ayden Andrews 1-3 0-0 3, Stainton Forbes 4-8 3-5 16, Coleton Welter 1-2 0-0 3, Andrew Gettinger 1-6 0-0 2. Totals: 21-42 18-22 72.

Seneca Valley 23 10 19 8 — 60

Butler 18 22 18 14 — 72

3-point goals: Seneca Valley 7 (Congdon, Okponobi, Pepin, Omasits, Householder 3), Butler 12 (Carney, Littlejohn 4, Lucas 2, Andrews, Forbes 3, Welter)