Story by Wyatt Ebersole
The Butler Men's Basketball Team showed their ability to overcome tremendous adversity against a fierce rival and top-tier opponent Wednesday night when the Grizzlies roared back from down 18 points in the second half to stun Coach Jay Herkelman and the #11 ranked Coffeyville Red Ravens. The win improves the Grizzlies to 9-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play this season and the Grizzlies have bounced back to win three consecutive games after dropping their first two conference matchups of the season. The loss for Coffeyville bumps them down to 9-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play and the Red Ravens have now lost back-to-back games.
As has been the case in most games this season for the Grizzlies, they came out of the gates very slow on the offensive end, letting their defensive work do the talking for them. The Grizzlies and Red Ravens were tied 12-12 ten minutes into the contest, but shortly after, the Red Ravens would find some offensive consistency. Fast forward to the 2:09 mark of the half after a Red Raven basket by Jordan Wildy and Coffeyville was rolling, up 32-18 on the rival Grizzlies. The bucket by Wildy would be the last points of the half for either side and the Grizzlies went into the locker room frustrated, and down by 14.
The second half started much how the first half ended, with Coffeyville getting a few buckets in a row and nothing was falling on the other end for the Grizzlies. Coffeyville built a 38-20 lead with 18 minutes to play, and it was starting to seem like the game was slipping away from the Grizzlies, but if there is one thing somebody should learn from watching the Grizzlies the past four years, it is this: never count out coach Kyle Fisher's group, no matter the score. Quick looks for Butler's Tahjae Hill and Isaiah Williams and some Isaac Ondekane free throws and in just three minutes, the Red Raven lead was down to 10. Williams would bring the lead down to single digits with a pair of free throws and you could start to feel the momentum shifting. Caleb Golden got his first basket for the Grizzlies in 357 days on a huge and-1 with 13:27 to play cutting the lead down to five. The Grizzlies would get a stop and then again it was Golden, burying his first three-pointer at a key point and just like that, it was a two-point game. Treylon Payne would sink a pair of free throws a minute later and for the first time since the 10:00 minute mark of the first half that the game was tied. Coffeyville would trade some baskets with Tahjae Hill who was big for the Grizzlies all evening. Trey Payne would give the Grizzlies their first lead in over 20 minutes when he made two free throws at the 9:36 mark to give Butler a 50-48 advantage. A bucket from Javon Grant and some free throws for Williams and Hill and the Grizzlies were now in control, up 55-48 with 9 minutes left. Coffeyville wasn't done for yet however, as they earned a few quick scores to make the game 57-54 with 6:52 left to play. Tahjae Hill made two layups and Ondekane had a huge putback and Butler was back up by seven with 4:40 left. The Red Ravens still weren't giving up as they once again pulled it within four with under two to play, but the dagger shot was coming. With 1:56 left, Butler's Javon Grant picked his spot, a right elbow jumper just behind the three-point line that he buried to give the Grizzlies a 68-61 lead. Coffeyville would give themselves a chance as they got the ball back down four with 35 seconds left, but the game's hero Tahjae Hill would get a steal and a pair of free throws to go with it and the Grizzlies won 70-64.
The Grizzlies will look to continue their winning streak on Saturday when the struggling Hutchinson Blue Dragons come to town. The Blue Dragons (8-3) have lost three of their last four and will be looking to spoil the Grizzlies return home to the Power Plant.
NOTES: Butler is 7-13 against Coffeyville since 2011, but are 4-4 against the Red Ravens in the Kyle Fisher era, and the Grizzlies have won the last three matchups…Butler has now started 9-2 in the last three seasons…This is Butler's first road win over a ranked opponent since November 6th, 2021 when the Grizzlies knocked off #2 Indian Hills…Over the course of two weeks, Butler has jumped from 11th to 4th in the Jayhawk Conference standings…This was Coffeyville's first home loss since February 13th, 2022 when they lost to Cloud County 56-63