Providing double trouble
Butler's Stutz twins bring twice the pain for opponents
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP — They won't be all that noticeable in the box score nor are they considered natural stars on the court.
Butler senior twin brothers Joel and Jace Stutz just play hard, at practice or in games, all of the time.
“They are the heart and soul of this team,” Butler boys basketball coach Matt Clement said. “They bring so much passion and energy to the gym and their friends follow along with it.
“It's been so much fun to watch.”
But make no mistake, the Stutz brothers are about more than gutsy play. They bring talent to the floor as well.
Since Section 1-6A play began this year, Joel has averaged 13.6 points per game and drained 31 treys. Jace consistently guards the other team's biggest scoring threat.
“Joel has been more prevalent in terms of scoring while Jace does a lot of the down and dirty stuff,” Clement said. “But Jace can score, too. We just haven't needed him in that regard.”
Jace smiles at the thought.
“I'm more about defense and making things happen,” he said. “I like to think I can shoot the ball, too. I'm just down the list ... We have a lot of guys who can shoot.”
“And we have confidence in every one of them,” Joel chimed in. “Open guy takes the shot.”
The Stutz twins have been teammates for years in multiple sports. They played Little League ball together and are teammates on the Meridian squad in Legion baseball.
They played on Butler's boys soccer team for four years, including two playoff seasons. Joel scored 13 varsity goals as a center back-midfielder while Jace tallied 11 goals as an outside midfielder-forward for the Tornado.
“I scored the winning goal in our (2-1) win over Seneca Valley that got us to the WPIAL semifinals our sophomore year,” Joel recalled.
boys soccer team had winning seasons in each of the four years the Stutz boys
played. Two of those years resulted in playoff appearances. The Golden Tornado
basketball team posted winning seasons and playoff appearances during the
Stutz's sophomore and junior seasons and are on their way to another winning
Meridian's Legion baseball team enjoyed winning campaigns with the Stutz boys as well.
Through all of that success, Joel pointed at brother Jace and said: “Best teammate I've ever had.”
That's not to say they're not rivals as well.
“When we play cornhole, I want to beat him,” Jace said of his brother. “We just love the competition, whether its together or against each other.”
Clement said the pair has missed open gym once in four years — including during soccer season.
“They've shown up at the gym still in their soccer uniforms after a game to catch the last half (of open gym),” the coach said. “These guys are always working to get better.
“I knew Joel and Jace would have great senior years, just like I knew Kaden Rock would, Dom Pusateri would ... Those guys work too hard for that not to happen.”
The Stutz boys did not play football. Their father wouldn't allow it.
“Our dad hurt his back playing football, so he wouldn't let us play,” Joel recalled. “That's what gravitated us toward soccer.
“We had to do something.”
Now they're all over the court for Butler, generating energy, creating turnovers and hitting big shots.
“They look the same, they play the same,” Clement said. “Those guys never hold anything back.”
Both hope to continue on in a sport in college. That's where their run as teammates may end.
“We'd love to stay together, but that might be tough,” Jace admitted. “Academics have to come first.”
That's why the two are relishing the potential of Butler's current basketball season. It is the last Tornado team they will ever suit up with.
“We know this team can compete with anybody,” Joel said. “We've been on competitive teams all of our lives. This has a chance to be the best one yet.”