Tornado girls get comeback win
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP — The halftime score — or lack of it — meant nothing to Butler girls basketball coach Joe Lewandowski.
“One of the most overrated stats in sports is the halftime score,” Lewandowski said. “We're a second-half team.”
The Golden Tornado (8-2, 2-0) trailed Shaler 14-8 at the intermission Friday night. Butler managed just two field goals in the first two quarters. Its deficit grew to 27-18 by the end of the third quarter.
Butler exploded for 22 points in the final eight minutes to post a 40-36 Section 1-6A victory over the Titans. The win was the Tornado's sixth in a row.
“Defense wins games,” junior Alyssa Eyth said. “It keeps us close enough to come back.”
Shaler (7-3, 0-2) led 29-18 after Jess Schmidt canned a layup with 7:35 left in the game. Butler responded with a 14-0 run to grab a 32-29 edge with 3:14 to play.
Freshman Kylee Lewandowski sank three 3-pointers to begin the spurt. Jenna Kunst stuck back an offensive rebound after Julia Gibson stole the ball in the frontcourt, drove the length of the floor and missed her shot.
Mia Rader concluded the run by hitting a trey of her own.
“Those were huge plays in this game,” Coach Lewandowski said. “We stress gritty play and Julia is our grittiest player.”
Kylee Lewandowski missed all four of her shots in the first half and was scoreless at halftime.
“My teammates encouraged me. They said to keep shooting. The shots will start to fall,” she said. “And they did.”
Shaler wasn't done yet. A pair of Rylee Donovan free throws gave the Titans a 35-34 edge with 1:25 on the clock. Lewandowski promptly brought the ball down the floor and drained her fifth trey of the second half.
A Meg Lydon free throw pulled Shaler within 37-36 with 45 seconds left. After the teams traded possessions, Lewandowski delvered a long inbounds pass to Eyth, who had gotten behind the defense.
An intentional foul by Shaler prevented an easy layup, but Eyth sank both of her free throws with 11.2 seconds left. Kunst added a free throw with eight seconds left as a result of Butler keeping possession and the issue was decided.
“Huge win for us. It's fun coming back like this. We know we can do it,” Eyth said.
Kylee Lewandowski said the two had discussed a long inbounds pass before executing the play.
“We saw it was there,” she said. “Shaler was pressing its defense way tight, looking for a quick steal.”
Lewandowski paced Butler with 17 points. Kunst had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, Eyth five rebounds.
Donovan had 11 points for Shaler. Meg Lydon contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
“Our girls are showing a lot of patience and confidence right now,” Coach Lewandowski said. “Defense is our staple, but we can shoot the ball. We're capable of scoring a lot of points.
“It's just not happening consistently yet.”
Shaler coach Cornelious Nesbit could not be reached for comment.
Rylee Donovan 3-9 2-2 11, Kayla Seidl 1-3 2-2 5, Allie Graf 0-1 0-0 0, Payten Harrison 0-1 0-0 0, Gabby Lebakken 0-1 0-0 0, Meg Lydon 4-8 3-4 10, Jess Schmidt 2-3 0-0 4, Maura Fisher 2-7 2-2 6, Emily Cavacini 0-4 0-0 0, Meghan Lacey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-39 8-10 36.
Audrey Hilliard 1-3 0-0 3, Mia Rader 1-5 0-0 3, Alyssa Eyth 1-2 3-4 5, Kylee Lewandowski 6-12 0-0 17, Jenna Kunst 4-7 4-6 12, Julia Gibson 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 13-32 7-9 40.
Shaler 11 3 13 9 — 36
Butler4 4 10 22 — 40
3-point goals: Donovan 3, Seidl; Hilliard, Rader, Lewandowski 3
JV: Shaler, 29-27 (S: Meghan Lacey 12, B: Jordan Kaufman 11)