Fishing for a playoff spot
Butler girls get clutch 39-37 win over North Hills
By Mike Kilroy
Eagle Staff Writer
BUTLER TWP — The Butler girls basketball team has a fish named Kevin swimming happily in a small tank in the high school training room.
After every win, they feed Kevin.
Kevin has been well-fed this season.
Kevin is healthy and strong and so is Butler's playoff prospects after a gutsy 39-37 home win over North Hills Monday night.
“It was a mature win,” said Butler coach Joe Lewandowski. “This was one of those mature wins you typically get when you have seniors on the floor, but we did it with freshmen and sophomores and juniors.”
Butler (10-5, 3-3) has no seniors on the roster.
What the Tornado do have, though, is a knack for bringing a player off the bench to contribute mightily to a win.
Monday night it was Jordan Kaufman.
The freshman hit a 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to give Butler a 22-21 lead at the half. In the fourth quarter, she hit another 3 to give the Golden Tornado a 38-32 lead with five minutes remaining.
Butler's defense did the rest.
“She gave us six points, two big 3s,” Lewandowski said. “Every bucket was big tonight.”
Both teams hit 13 field goals and made seven free throws. The difference was Butler had two more made 3-pointers — from Kaufman.
Alyssa Eyth and Jenna Kunst were also difference-makers for the Tornado.
Eyth had a huge third quarter with both of her 3-pointers and eight of her team-leading 14 points. Kunst had a big second quarter with nine of her 12 points.
Kunst also had nine rebounds.
“I thought Jenna and Alyssa were terrific,” Lewandowski said. “They knew we needed tough baskets and both of them did it.”
Butler fell behind 10-5 early, but stormed back to take a 13-12 lead on a 3 by Mia Rader.
After that, the lead switched hands four times and the game was tied six times.
Butler, though, closed out the game with its defense.
North Hills (7-9, 1-5) got a 3-pointer from Kristen Collins to make it 38-37 with 3:30 remaining, but didn't score again.
With the ball and trailing by 2 with 2.5 seconds left, the Indians tried to set up a play to get a back-door layup, but Butler thwarted it.
Collins threw up a desperation 3 instead that missed the mark.
“All you can ask for is an opportunity and we had a few opportunities (before the last possession), actually,” said North Hills coach Lauren Wilmus. “We're still kind of searching for that one kid to step up. We're lacking that right now.”
What Butler isn't lacking right now is confidence.
A year after winning just three games, the Golden Tornado now have that many section wins.
A victory on the road at Shaler Thursday will go a long way toward cementing a playoff spot for the Tornado.
“Now let's see if we can steal another one,” Lewandowski said.
And get Kevin another victory meal.
NORTH HILLS 37
Jordan O'Malley 2-6 2-3 6, Jess Bowen 2-5 2-2 6, Savannah Powers 0-1 0-0 0, Skyler Swartzbaugh 1-7 0-0 2, Anna Treser 3-9 3-4 9, Kristen Collins 5-12 0-0 14. Totals: 13-40 7-9 37.
Mia Rader 2-5 0-1 5, Alyssa Eyth 6-9 0-0 14, Kylee Lewandowski 0-7 2-4 2, Jenna Kunst 3-9 5-5 12, Sydney Hanratty 0-0 0-0 0, Julia Gibson 0-1 0-0 0, Emilee Altman 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Kaufman 2-5 0-2 6. Totals: 13-37 7-12 39.
North Hills 6 15 8 8 — 37
Butler3 19 10 7 — 39
3-point goals: North Hills 4 (Collins 4); Butler 6 (Eyth 2, Junst, Rader, Kaufman 2)