Butler boys, girls knock off Pine-Richland in tight games

John Enrietto Eagle Sports Editor

February 10, 2024 Last Updated: February 09, 2024 11:15 PM Sports

BUTLER TWP — Sydney Patterson drove the length of the floor for a buzzer-beating, game-winning layup. Braylon Littlejohn returned from injury to help put away a win in the fourth quarter.

In a pair of basketball thrillers on the Butler floor Friday night, the Golden Tornado boys held off Pine-Richland, 58-50, while Patterson’s layup enabled the girls to nip the Rams, 53-52.

The lead changed hands seven times in the first half of the boys game, the Tornado (16-5, 6-34) taking a 31-29 lead into intermission. Butler never trailed in the second half, but did not secure a double-digit lead until a Littlejohn bucket upped the margin to 58-48 with less than a minute to go.

Butler enters the WPIAL playoffs as the third-place finisher in Section 1-6A. The loss eliminated the Rams (7-14, 3-7) from postseason consideration. Pine-Richland has dropped eight of its last nine games.

Donovan Carney (2) of Butler goes in for the easy lay up during the first quarter of their home game Friday night vs Pine Richland. Brandon Croney/Special to the eagle 2/9/24

“I give that team a lot of credit,” Butler coach Matt Clement said of Pine-Richland. “They’ve had a lot of injuries this year and things haven’t gone their way, but they play hard. They get after loose balls, get on the floor ... They just get after it.”

The Tornado did much of the same thing. Littlejohn returned to the lineup after suffering a gash above an eye Tuesday night at Central Catholic and scored 22 points. He added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“I got four stitches and there was no concussion, so I was cleared to play,” Littlejohn said. “This game was big for us. We know how hard Pine-Richland plays and they wanted to come in here and beat us. Everybody who comes in here wants to beat us.

“This win puts us back on track, gets our confidence back a little bit.”

Donovan Carney had 16 points, six rebounds and three steals for Butler while Tayt Lucas contributed 12 points and a pair of assists.

Sydney Patterson (15) of Butler goes for the lay up and gets fouled by a Pine Richland defender during the first half of their game Friday night. Brandon Croney/Special to the eagle 2/9/24

“Donovan was hitting the defensive boards hard,” Clement said. “The rebounds weren’t falling in his lap, he was going up and getting them. He helped us get the ball and go the other way.

“When we’re able to run, we’re dangerous. And we held them to 29 and 21 points, two good defensive halves.”

Pine-Richland coach Bob Petcash said he felt good about the final score being in the 50s.

“I would have definitely taken that coming in,” he said. “Butler is a powerful team and we did a good job holding them to 58 points. We just couldn’t get over the hump.

‘We’re a young team, and I’m proud of how hard we played this year. All I ask of these kids is to give 111% effort every game and they did that.“

Carson Baer led the Rams with 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Zach Kenny added 15 points.


Butler 53, Pine-Richland 52

Neither team ever had a double-digit lead, though Pine-Richland (7-13, 4-6) got off to an 11-2 lead in the first three minutes. The score was tied eight times and the lead changed hands on seven occasions.

Butler’s biggest lead was 30-22 late in the first half. The Tornado (6-15, 3-7) had an eight-point lead at halftime.

“We showed a lot of resiliency in coming back in this game — twice,” Butler coach Mark Maier. “It’s a lesson ... Never quit fighting.”

Wiping out the 11-2 deficit was the first comeback. The second was coming back from a 51-47 deficit in the final three minutes.

A pair of layups by Amelia McMichael knotted the game at 51 with 27 seconds to play. The Rams regained the lead when Cate Gentile sank one of two free throws with 6.3 seconds on the clock.

Maier wound up calling a timeout with 4.5 seconds left, his team inbounding the ball from under its own basket.

Patterson took the inbound pass, drove the length of the floor and laid in the winning points just before the buzzer.

“If I saw somebody open, I was gonna pass the ball,” Patterson said. “Then I realized I had to drive to the hoop pretty quick. I thought they might foul me.”

The Rams had a foul to give, but did not use it.

“Four seconds is like five dribbles,” Maier said. “I was on Syd’s back pretty good because she missed coming out on a couple of screens and left (Madison) Zavasky open for three’s.

“But, thankfully, Syd was like a duck. She let that water roll off her back and made the big play at the end.”

McMichael led Butler with 27 points, 16 rebounds and five steals. She had 13 rebounds in the first half alone. Patterson had 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“I had no idea I had that my rebounds,” McMichael said. “We just wanted this win so bad.”

Jessica Chwalik, Butler’s lone senior, battled injuries her entire varsity career. She relished this memory in her final home game.

“This means the world to me and to our team,” She said. “What a way to close out our last home game.”

Zavasky had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Pine-Richland.



Eli Wentz 3-9 0-2 6, Vasili Balouris 1-3 0-0 2, J.L. Aiello 2-2 0-0 4, Eli Catalano 1-4 0-0 3, Andrew Mendelovich 0-4 0-0 0, Carson Baer 9-14 0-0 20, Zach Kenny 5-8, 4-5 15, Alex Kastner 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 4-7 50.


Mavrik Clement 0-0 0-0 0, Donovan Carney 5-15 4-4 16, Ayden Davis 1-2 0-0 2, Andrew Lucas 0-1 0-0 0, Braylon Littlejohn 10-14 2-3 22, Kyle Casteel 0-0 1-2 1, Jordan Epps 1-3 0-0 2, Tayt Lucas 5-8 0-0 12, Coleton Welter 1-1 0-0 3, Andrew Gettinger 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-45 7-9 58.

Pine-Richland 15 14 11 10 — 50

Butler 16 15 15 12 — 58

3-point goals: Pine-Richland 4 (Catalano, Baer 2, Kenny), Butler 5 (Carney 2, T.Lucas 2, Welter)

Monday: Gateway at Butler



Mallory Boivin 3-9 0-0 8, Maren Iski 2-5 2-4 6, Zoe Cook 2-6 0-0 5, Madison Zavasky 9-20 2-5 25, Cate Gentile 2-6 3-4 8, Aubree Bennett 0-3 0-0 0, Shae Best 0-4 0-0 0. Totals: 18-53 7-13 52.


Malina McElroy 0-2 0-0 0, Jessica Chwalik 1-6 0-0 3, Cameryn Booher 0-1 1-2 1, Sydney Patterson 5-8 7-7 17, Ashton Huff 1-1 0-0 2, Avery Maier 1-6 0-0 3, Amelia McMichael 10-24 6-6 27, Casey Clouse 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-48 14-15 53.

Pine-Richland 16 7 17 12 — 52

Butler 16 15 10 12 — 53

3-point goals: Pine-Richland 9 (Boivin 2, Cook, Zavasky 5, Gentile), Butler 3 (Chwalik, Maier, McMichael)