Butler attacks the basket in securing 68-55 basketball win at North Allegheny
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
WEXFORD — To make sure it wasn't looking at the playoffs from the outside, Butler took the game inside Tuesday night.
And North Allegheny paid dearly.
The Golden Tornado never trailed in posting a key 68-55 Section 1-6A boys basketball victory over the Tigers. Butler sank 27 of 32 free throws in the contest after sinking just four of nine in a loss to Pine-Richland five days earlier.
“We took the ball to the glass a lot more tonight and got to the line as a result,” Butler coach Matt Clement said.
“No. 1, we want to make the playoffs. No. 2, we want to go into the playoffs on a hot streak if we can.”
Tuesday may have marked the start of that.
The Tornado (11-7, 5-5) took a 6-0 lead on treys by Joel Stutz and Ethan Morton. Butler would hit just one more 3-pointer the rest of the night.
Connor Ollio scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds inside while Tyler Frederick produced 16 points and four boards. Stutz and Morton repeatedly drove to the basket and combined to sink 18 of 22 free throws.
“Our guards were setting screens and giving us lanes to get to the basket. That's all it was,” Frederick said.
“I was getting loose down low and the guards found me,” Ollio said. “And I was able to finish.”
“Without even looking at any stats, this was Connor Ollio's best game of the season,” Clement said.
Though they never took the lead, the Tigers (11-6, 5-4) hung around. NA trailed only 39-33 entering the final quarter.
But Butler continually made plays inside and at the line to pull away.
A three-point play by Ollio extended the lead to 48-38 with 5:46 left. Luke Michalek stuck back an offensive rebound moments later for a 12-point lead.
The Tornado sank 19 of 22 free throws in the fourth quarter and scored 11 of their final 13 points at the line.
“They outplayed us, out-hustled us and out-toughed us tonight,” North Allegheny coach Keith Noftz said. “This was a disappointing effort by us on Senior Night.
“We needed to be more aggressive and determined taking the ball to the rim. That's why we didn't get to the line.”
North Allegheny did not attempt a free throw in the first three quarters.
Stutz had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds for Butler. Morton added 15 points and three assists.
“Four guys in double figures like that? I'll take my chances with that every time,” Clement said.
Ray Sandherr came off the bench to pace North Allegheny with 19 points. He sank three treys in the second half. Isaac Barnes had 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 1:39 to play.
Butler's biggest lead was 66-48 with 54.9 seconds remaining.
Curtis Aiken, the Tigers' top scorer this season, was limited to nine points. He sank just two of 11 shots from the floor.
“To hold Aiken to nine points is phenomenal,” Clement said. “Jace Stutz, Jason Gray, Luke Michalek ... We had different guys on him all night.
“We played some really solid defense tonight.”
North Allegheny had won seven of its eight games played since losing a 72-61 decision Jan. 6 at Butler.
“Curtis did not have one of his better games tonight,” Noftz said. “They just took it to us.”
Butler has section games remaining against Central Catholic and Seneca Valley next week.
“All of the games are big right now,” Clement said. “Those are the two teams fighting for the playoffs with us. This was a big game for us tonight.”
Ollio echoed those sentiments.
“A huge win,” he said. “We had to have this one.”
Luke Michalek 1-4 0-0 2, Jace Stutz 0-2 0-0 0, Ian McCarrier 0-0 0-0 0, Jason Gray 1-3 0-0 2, Tyler Frederick 5-6 5-5 16, Connor Ollio 7-10 4-5 18, Ethan Morton 2-8 10-12 15, Joel Stutz 3-11 8-10 15, Jefferson Ford 0-1 0-0 0 . Totals: 19-45 27-32 68.
NORTH ALLEGHENY 55
Zach Johnson 0-0 3-4 3, Luke Carter 3-9 0-0 9, Curtis Aiken 2-11 4-4 9, Ray Sandherr 7-8 2-2 19, Andrew Ward 1-2 0-0 2, Canyon Tuman 0-1 0-0 0, David Bluemling 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin Sestili 1-5 0-0 2, Isaac Barnes 5-8 1-1 11. Totals: 19-44 10-11 55.
Butler 12 15 12 29 — 68
North Allegheny10 9 14 22 — 55
3-point goals: Frederick, Morton, Jo.Stutz; Carter, Aiken 3, Sandherr 3
JV: North Allegheny, 45-42 (B: Luke Michalek 11; NA: Anthony Hattrup 9)