CENTERVILLE — Butler nearly ended Northmont’s dream season Wednesday evening in the Dayton 2 Division I sectional at Centerville High School.
The Aviators, winners of nine of their last 12 games, jumped out to a 9-0 lead and held the lead until the final 20 seconds of the game. Trailing 57-56, and with a chance to take the lead, Northmont missed a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left. Both teams got their hands on the ball attempting to control the rebound resulting in a jump ball.
The possession arrow was in Butler’s favor and it looked as if Northmont was doomed.
On the ensuing inbounds play the ball went into the hands of the Aviators’ leading scorer Miles Joiner (28 points). Under a full court press Joiner tripped immediately after catching the inbounds pass and fell to the floor in the backcourt. Northmont defenders pounced on Joiner and stripped him of the ball. Point guard Rodney Richardson took the ball to the hoop and scored to give the Thunderbolts their first lead of the game with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Butler stormed down the floor with fans on both sides going wild pulling for their respective teams. As the Aviators drove to the hoop Northmont senior forward Maurice Beavers blocked the shot and controlled the ball. Beavers was immediately fouled by Quentin Glover with three seconds remaining. Beavers sank both free throws to boost the Thunderbolts’ lead to 60-57.
Butler still had a chance to tie the game on a last-ditch three point shot. The Aviators tried to throw a pass to midcourt to facilitate a last second shot but Northmont picked off the pass to seal the victory.
Northmont’s miracle victory quashed an outstanding effort by a Butler team that left all it had on the court.
Every basketball coach has always said the first game in tournament play is the most dangerous. That proved to be especially true for Northmont. After drawing a first round bye the Thunderbolts were more than a little rusty after a 12 day break following their final regular season game on February 17.
“I’ve always said this as long as I’ve been a player and a coach, your first tournament game is always the most difficult game mentally,” said Northmont Coach Collin Abels. “Your mind plays tricks on you. it’s a different season with new pressure so it’s tough. I told the guys, the games will get tougher physically. It is no discredit to Butler. They are a darn good basketball team. They have won nine of their last 12 for a reason. They have a guy, Miles Joiner, who can go get 30 points any night and when you have a guy like that and he is on the way that he was on, they are going to be in every basketball game.”
Joiner scored 13 points in the first quarter, including three treys, to give Butler a 19-15 lead entering the second period.
“I’m just proud of our kids,” Abels added. “They never quit. They fought on every possession. It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world but they found a way to make a couple of plays and to make a couple of free throws at the end. You know how March Madness is. It is survive and advance. It was nice to see Beavers make some big free throws at the end. It is unfortunate that Butler had a kid slip. That’s why you compete. You get a turnover and a basket and win a game. I do want to take my hat off to Coach Wyrick and his bunch over there. They are a gutty bunch and there is a reason why they have won nine of their last 12. They have a good basketball team and a good coaching staff.”
As disappointed as he was to see his team lose, Butler Coach D.J. Wyrick displayed a lot of class after the game when dealing with the media.
“We stuck to our game plan and we handled their pressure pretty well early on,” Wyrick said. “Our kids competed their butts off. It was just one of those games where a bad break at the end after you’ve played a hell of a game cost you. The game didn’t come down to that final possession. Things happened early on. There were certain possessions where we got away from what got us there a little bit, and that is what hurt us more than one play down the stretch.”
Northmont advances to play Springboro this Saturday at 7 p.m. also at Centerville.
V-B 19 32 45 57 – 57
NMT 15 29 44 60 – 60
Butler: Miles Joiner 28, Michael Kreill 6, Braedon Norman 2, Tyler Burley 11, Bryant Johnson 2, Leland Skapik 2, Quentin Glover 6. Totals: 22-8-57.
Northmont: Anthony Dorsey 4, Jabari Perkins 5, Rodney Richardson 12, Christian Wilson 9, Maurice Beavers 8, Vinson Walker 4, Arius Spears 11, Tyree Trammell 2, Donavin Wallace 3, DaLonte Capers 2. Totals: 23-9-60.
3-point goals: Butler 5 (Joiner 3, Burley, Glover); Northmont 5 (Wilson 2, Perkins, Spears, Wallace).
Records: Butler 13-11, Northmont 19-4.