CLAYTON — Butler methodically passed the ball from player to player early in the game looking for an open shot to take an early 8-5 lead Tuesday at Northmont.
Butler’s deliberately slow pace frustrated the Thunderbolts. Northmont led by three after one quarter but by only one at halftime.
A steal and score by Tyler Burley gave the Aviators a 30-26 lead late in the third period, but Northmont answered with a 3-point basket by Donavin Wallace. Rodney Richardson sank a pair of free throws and Christian Wilson buried another 3-pointer to put the Thunderbolts on top 34-30. Northmont led by four entering the final eight minutes of play and from there used a press to disrupt the Aviators attack en route to posting a 51-42 victory.
With the victory Northmont improves to 8-2 overall while Butler falls to 3-5.
“I think what happened was that we played the kind of game that we wanted to play for three quarters, but when the fourth came and they put on that press on us it really changed the complexion of the game, said Butler Coach D.J. Wyrick. “We started to get more sped-up and we lost some of our discipline that kept us in it early. That press just took us out of it.”
Wyrick acknowledged that making multiple passes was a tactic to put the Northmont defense to the test.
“We knew we were going to make them work on defense and we were going to try to get a layup, try to pound the ball inside, which I think we were able to do early,” Wyrick added. “Like I said, they took us out of our game plan by going to a press and after that we didn’t make the best decisions. We tried to dribble to break the press instead of beating it with the pass. Our guys weren’t crashing the middle. We were just kind of standing out there stagnant and that’s not going to work against a press.”
Mile Joiner led Butler with a game-high 19 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Vinson Walker led Northmont with 13 and Rodney Richardson had 11.
“We Talked about the fact that we have got to get to the point where we play the way that we want to play regardless of the opponent and regardless of the style of play that they use or the offense or defense that they run,” said Northmont Coach Collin Abels. “We’ve gotten to the point over four years that we know what allows us to have success offensively and defensively and sometimes I don’t know if we are playing safe or what. We just have to believe and trust in what we do, and we did a great job of that in the fourth quarter.”
V-B 10 22 32 42 – 42
NMT 13 23 36 51 – 51
Butler: Trey Sanders 8, Miles Joiner 19, Michael Kreill 2, Tyler Burley 7, Bryant Johnson 4, Quentin Glover 2. Totals: 15-11-42.
Northmont: Jabari Perkins 6, Rodney Richardson 11, Christian Wilson 6, Vinson Walker 13, Arius Spears 8, Donavin Wallace 5, DaLonte Capers 2. Totals: 19-8-51.
3-point goals: Butler 1 (Burley); Northmont 5 (Perkins 2, Wilson 2, Wallace).
Records: Butler 3-5, Northmont 8-2.