Story by Kalon Fullerton, Butler Atheltics
The Butler Grizzlies were unable to contend with the Hutchinson press for 40 minutes, as the Blue Dragons were able to pull away late in the second half to knock off the Grizzlies,75-66 at the Power Plant in the 194th meeting between the two bitter rivals.
The loss snaps a four game winning streak, and drops the Grizzlies' record to 21-7 on the year and 15-7 in conference play. Hutch now leads the all time series between the two teams, 127-67.
The Grizzlies led most of the first half, and took a three point lead into the locker room. They extended the lead to as much as seven points in the second half. But the Dragons were able to take the lead midway through the second and they never looked back in a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes. The Grizzlies were able to take care of the ball in the first half, giving up just five turnovers against Hutch's full court press. Butler won the turnover battle, finishing with just 11 and forcing 15 points off turnovers, but the Dragons forced three straight takeaways which were integral in taking the lead.
The Grizzlies were led by Treylon Payne who scored 19 points, Eden Holt and Isiah Williams also finished in double figures, scoring 15 and 10 respectively. The Grizzlies shot 34% as a team, hampered by poor three point shooting, going just 15% from behind the arc. Butler also struggled all night at the free throw line, finishing 21 of 31 from the line, good for only 67%. The Blue Dragons were effective on the line, making 23 of their 27 shots from the charity stripe, a stat that proved to be a big difference in deciding the game.
Defensively, the Grizzlies did enough to win, holding a team that averages 94.5 points per game and scored 104 points in the last meeting between the two teams to just 75 points, keeping the Dragons to just 38% from the field. The two teams tied in a hotly contested rebounding battle, both teams finishing with 38 boards. The Grizzlies were able to pull down 15 offensive rebounds and put up 18 second chance points. Williams and Jaden Okon led the team on the glass, both finishing with eight.
Butler will have to bounce back quickly, hosting their second ranked team in two days when the 16th ranked Garden City Broncbusters will come into town on Saturday, in a game that could prove pivotal in the KJCCC standings, as the season winds down to the final week before the Region playoffs.