Butler knocks out No. 2 seed Latrobe with rebounding, free throws, tenacity
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
PENN HILLS — Slow transition, rebound, handle the pressure.
Butler completed steps one, two and three Saturday at Penn Hills High School in completing its 70-64 upset of No. 2 seed Latrobe Saturday in the WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball quarterfinals.
“We knew those steps were the key to winning this game,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “But saying it is a whole lot easier than doing it.
“You can't simulate that kind of speed in practice.”
Seventh-seeded Butler will face 11th-seed Woodland Hills in the semifinals at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Fox Chapel. The Wolverines scored a come-from-behind 69-67 win over the Golden Tornado during the Peter Sauer Memorial Tournament over Christmas break at Shady Side Academy earlier this season.
Through the first three quarters Saturday, the Butler-Latrobe score was tied six times and the lead changed hands 14 times. A Connor Ollio layup beat the buzzer ending the third quarter and gave the Golden Tornado (16-8) a 52-50 lead.
Butler never lost that lead in the fourth quarter — a fact that frustrated Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel.
“We turned them over and got our chances in transition,” Wetzel said. “We had open looks and didn't connect. Too many times, we'd turn them over and come away with nothing.
“Of course, we rarely got more than one shot on a lot of those rushes. Butler's rebounding had a lot to do with that.”
The Tornado enjoyed a 41-28 advantage on the boards. Tyler Frederick grabbed 15 rebounds, Connor Ollio 12 and Joel Stutz five.
“Pounding the boards was a big part of this win,” Ollio said. “That was the plan. Attack the glass, but always have a man back because they like to break out quick.”
The Tornado built their biggest lead early in the final period. A dunk by Frederick and layups by Joel Stutz and Ethan Morton completed a 6-0 run for a 60-52 lead with 5:27 remaining.
The advantage stood at 62-54 when the Wildcats (19-4) came charging back. Jason Armstrong drained a trey, Reed Fenton hit two free throws and Bryce Butler a layup.
Suddenly, Butler's lead was 62-61 with two minutes to play.
Then Joel Stutz drove to the hoop for a layup and the Tornado hit six of seven free throws in the final 1:30 to salt away the win.
“Joel found a lane and took the ball to the hoop. That was a big, big play,” Clement said. “It got us back on track.”
Frederick scored 22 points and blocked three shots to go with his 15 rebounds. Morton had 13 points and four assists, Ollio 10 points to go with his 12 boards. Joel Stutz added 10 points.
The Tornado sank 18 of 20 free throws.
“Tyler has been putting together a bunch of games like this lately,” Clement said of Frederick.
“They weren't rolling over to double me on defense and I had open lanes to the hoop,” Frederick said. “Just keep taking it in there.
“Our offense worked together. We're in synch right now.”
Latrobe had a nine-game winning streak snapped. Austin Butler, averaging 30 points per game, was held to 14. He had nine rebounds as well. Armstrong had 14 points and Fenton 12.
Butler managed only three points in the second half.
“Jace (Stutz) and Jason (Gray) were on him most of the game. They shut him off,” Clement said.
The Tornado limited the Wildcats' top two scorers — Butler and Fenton — to eight points in the second half.
“When those two guys are only scoring eight points in the final two quarters, we're not going to win games,” Wetzel said.
“Butler is the real deal. Nobody was saying they had no chance to win this game. They didn't close out some close games that cost them in the seeding, but they are a very good team.”
The Tornado will carry a five-game win streak into the semifinals — and a lot of people with them.
“The student section here today was incredible,” Clement said. “The community support has been fantastic.
“I'm proud to be from Butler. The fans really respect these guys on this team and the way they play, how hard they play. It's great to see this kind of atmosphere. The kids feed off it.”
Luke Michalek 1-1 0-0 3, Jace Stutz 1-4 4-5 6, Ian McCarrier 1-1 0-0 3, Jason Gray 1-3 0-0 3, Tyler Frederick 8-19 6-6 22, Connor Ollio 5-6 0-0 10, Ethan Morton 4-9 4-4 13, Joel Stutz 3-7 4-5 10. Totals: 24-50 18-20 70.
Jake Biss 2-8 0-0 4, Nick Bobula 3-7 0-0 7, Austin Butler 6-14 1-2 14, Bryce Butler 4-8 0-0 8, Reed Fenton 4-12 3-5 12Jason Armstrong 6-13 0-0 14, Marcus Dudzenski 2-3 1-4 5. Totals: 27-66 5-11 64.
Butler 17 19 16 18 — 70
Latrobe16 20 14 14 — 64
3-point goals: Michalek, McCarrier, Gray, Morton; Bobula, A.Butler, Fenton, Armstrong 2