CLAYTON — Butler’s senior laden lineup was too much for an inexperienced Northmont team to handle Tuesday as the Aviators scored a 70-60 victory at the Thunderdome to improve to 5-0 overall while handing the Thunderbolts (3-1) their first loss.
Seniors Bryant Johnson (19 points), Michael Kreill (16 points) and Quentin Glover (11 points) paced the Aviators attack. Johnson came up with a steal in the Northmont backcourt on an inbounds play to score a slam-dunk with 1:05 remaining to boost Butler’s lead to 65-52 and came up with another steal under the hoop for another bucket with 35 seconds left to add insult to injury.
Johnson swatted passes away, blocked a few shots and generally disrupted Northmont’s attack. He scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
“Johnson had a heck of a game,” said Butler Coach Darren Wyrick. “He was very active and altered some shots. He is a great help-side defender. He is a presence out there defensively. He can really change the game by just being a help-side defender.”
Senior guard Danny Lewis was the only Northmont player to score in double figures with 21 including six field goals and eight points from the charity stripe.
The Thunderbolts took a 17-10 lead by the end of the first quarter but four turnovers and some missed shots enabled Butler to battle back. The Aviators took a 22-21 lead on a put-back shot by Cooper Justice and a basket inside by Kreill.
Neither team could gain the upper hand in the second period with Northmont clinging to a 33-31 advantage at the half. With the score deadlocked at 39 late in the third quarter the Aviators finally began to establish control. Glover scored back-to-back baskets inside the paint followed by a pair of free throws by Ryan Wertz to take a 47-41 lead entering the final period.
Johnson scored and drew a foul from Jordan Smith and sank the bonus shot. Kreill came up with a steal with Johnson snaring a missed shot and scoring again to boost Butler’s lead to 52-44.
Northmont had trouble controlling the ball down the stretch and Butler took advantage of those miscues to build a 14 point lead.
“I told our guys that it is easy to try to slow it down when you have a 10 to 12 point lead late, but we just wanted to keep our foot on the gas,” Wyrick added. “We knew they were going to bring pressure at us so we wanted to continue to put pressure on them trying to slow them down a little bit and force them to make some plays against us.”
The Aviators out-rebounded Northmont 36-21 and only committed 13 turnovers.
“Johnson is a good player but he averages six and a half points a game and tonight he had his career night probably with 19,” said Northmont Coach Shane Kincer. “Where they really hurt us was Kreill. He does a great job of controlling the game. He keeps them in the offensive sets where they want to run it and they rebounded the ball really hard. We gave up 16 offensive rebounds tonight and we turned the ball over 20 times. Any time that happens you are going to have a tough time winning a basketball game.”
V – B 10 31 47 70 – 70
NMT 17 33 41 60 – 60
Butler: Michael Kreill 5-6-16, Braedon Norman 3-1-9, Cooper Justice 3-0-8, Bryant Johnson 8-3-19, Ryan Wertz 0-2-2, Tyler Montague 1-2-5, Quentin Glover 5-1-11. Totals: 25-15-70.
Northmont: Mile Johnson 1-0-3, Danny Lewis 6-8-21, Di’talian Rayford 2-0-4, Patrick Ivory 4-1-9, Justin Golson 2-1-5, Jordan Smith 2-0-4, Ifeanyi Nwanoro 1-3-5, Corey Gay 1-0-3, Prophet Johnson 3-0-6. Totals: 22-13-60.
3-point goals: Butler 5 (Justice 2, Norman 2, Montague); Northmont 3 (Johnson, Lewis, Gay).
Records: Butler 5-0 (2-0), Northmont 3-1 (1-0).