Not done yet
Butler boys rally past Canon-McMillan in 4th quarter, 51-46
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
WHITEHALL — Freshman point guard Ethan Morton put it best.
“We looked dead in the water ... nothing going on,” Morton said, referring to a second quarter in which his Butler boys basketball team was outscored 17-4 by Canon-McMillan in a first-round PIAA Class 6A tournament game at Baldwin High School.
The Golden Tornado (18-9) trailed 25-19 at halftime. The deficit reached 30-21 as the Big Macs' R.J. Bell buried a trey with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
But Butler summoned a rally and escaped with a 51-46 victory, setting up a second-round game against State College (21-4) — an 82-71 winner Saturday over Woodland Hills — at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
“These guys weren't ready for their season to be over,” Butler coach Matt Clement said.
The Tornado had a 15-8 lead through one quarter, only to watch Canon-McMillan score the first 11 points of the second period to seemingly take control of the game.
“Their 2-3 zone was giving us trouble. They play it very well,” Clement said.
Still, Butler found a way.
With his team trailing 30-21, Jace Stutz hit a 3-pointer. A Jason Gray triple at the end of the third period sliced the deficit to 34-31. A pair of Luke Michalek free throws carved it to one early in the final quarter.
A Stutz trey knotted the game at 36 with 7:06 to play and the game became a battle of wills.
“It slipped away from us,” Canon-McMillan coach Rick Bell said. “I give Butler a lot of credit for that. Their defense was stifling.
“They caused us to use a lot of time-outs early that I wish I had at the end. But we had to call those timeouts when we did. I don't blame our kids for that.”
The Big Macs (18-7) used a pair of time-outs while trying to in-bound the ball for a play at the end of the first half. They used another less than two minutes into the game as the Tornado's Joel and Jace Stutz opened the scoring with treys.
The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter. Butler took the lead for good at 43-42 on a pair of Joel Stutz free throws with 4:03 to play.
Tyler Frederick expanded the margin to three by sticking back a rebound on his own missed shot with 2:37 left. He outfought three defenders to grab the loose ball and put it in.
“My first shot on that play was terrible,” Frederick said. “I felt like I had to get it back. We needed to scored on that possession.”
Frederick was knocked to the floor a number of times in a physical game. He couldn't shoot his own free throws one time because his hand was bleeding from a collision with the court.
“It was just a scratch,” Frederick said, smiling. “I love when games get physical like that.”
A short jumper by Bell was answered by two Frederick free throws. A Bell lay-up pulled the Big Macs within 47-46 with 1:20 remaining.
Butler worked the ball around the top of the perimeter before Morton was fouled with 28 seconds left. He sank both free throws, completing a quarter in which the Tornado were 11 of 12 from the line.
Butler has hit 78 of 91 free throws in its five postseason games.
“We shoot a lot of free throws every day,” Morton said. “I missed a couple late in games during the regular season, but I learned to adjust how I bend my legs at the line late in games, when I'm a little bit tired.”
Trailing by three and without a time-out, Canon-McMillan never got off a 3-point shot in the closing seconds. The Big Macs were forced to drive to the hoop and lost the ball.
A quick, long pass ahead to Gray resulted in an easy lay-up before the horn to account for the 51-46 final.
“Once they had to go to the basket, I knew it was over,” Clement said. “I thought about calling a time-out to discuss the situation with our defense, but I didn't want to give them a chance to set up a play.”
Coach Bell said penetration is part of setting up his team's 3-point shooters.
“You drive to the hoop and hope an outside defender collapses in so we can kick it back out to an open guy,” he said. “But Butler is well-coached. They scouted us. They didn't bite on that.
“I'm happy for Matt. When we shook hands after the game, I told him he was one of the good guys.”
Jace Stutz led Butler with 14 points. Frederick had 12 points and 10 rebounds, giving him 1,009 points for his career. Morton had eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
“Tyler reaching 1,000 points is a good story,” Clement said. “Here's a guy who was the B-team in seventh and eighth grade, who battled injuries his sophomore and junior years. He never averaged more than 15 points per game in a season.
“He's just so gritty, so determined. When he's knocked around, he never complains or questions if there's no foul called. He just keeps going, keeps plugging. That's the way this whole team is.”
Bell scored 17 points and had six rebounds for the Big Macs. They averaged 63 points per game this season.
“Our defense kept us in this,” Clement said. “If these kids don't have the pride, grit and determination, we go on to lose this game by eight or 10 points and it's a disappointing end to the season.
“They wouldn't let it happen.”
Butler's Tyler Frederick grabs a rebound contested by Canon-McMillan's Carson Miller Saturday in the PIAA Class 6A tournament. Frederick went over 1,000 points in his career during Butler's win. Tye Cypher/Special to the Eagle
Britton Beachy 3-7 2-4 8, R.J. Bell 7-14 0-0 17, Drew Engel 0-1 0-0 0, Kenyan Lewis 1-5 0-0 2, Jason Fowlkes 2-4 0-0 5, Jake Davey 1-2 0-0 2, Carson Miller 2-5 1-3 5, Elliott Waller 3-7 0-0 7. Totals: 19-44 3-7 46.
Luke Michalek 0-1 2-2 2, Jace Stutz 5-6 1-2 14, Ian McCarrier 1-7 0-0 3, Jason Gray 2-3 0-0 5, Tyler Frederick 4-13 4-5 12, Connor Ollio 1-5 0-0 2, Ethan Morton 2-8 4-4 8, Cade Negley 0-3 0-0 0, Joel Stutz 1-9 2-2 5. Totals: 16-55 13-16 51.
Canon-McMillan 8 17 9 12 — 46
Butler15 4 12 20 — 51
3-point goals: Bell 3, Fowlkes, Waller; Ja.Stutz 3, McCarrier, Gray, Jo.Stutz
Wednesday: Butler vs. State College, 7:30 p.m., Pitt-Johnstown