COFFEYVILLE, KANSAS – The Butler Grizzlies won the East division for the second straight season on Saturday afternoon with a 68-62 win over the Coffeyville Red Ravens.
The victory gives Butler the No. 1 seed and a bye in next week’s Region VI tournament that begins on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Butler improves to 22-8 on the season and have won three straight road games, not losing a road game in the month of February.
"A lot of the credit goes to the players obviously but to really coach Fawcett and coach Mortimer," Butler head coach Mike Helmer said.
The Grizzlies outscored Coffeyville 33-22 in the final frame and 44-33 in the second half. After a dismal first half that saw a poor shooting percent.
The Grizzlies after taking a 2-0 lead never led after that point. Coffeyville took advantage of the freedom from the officials and made the Grizzlies frustrated on the offensive end. While there was contact, officials let it go and Coffeyville as not afraid to attack Butler.
Butler was 1-of-11 in the first half from three with Carissa Beck hitting on midway through the second quarter.
Coffeyville took a 27-18 lead with 2:47 to go in the second quarter, their largest lead of the half. Butler closed on a mini 5-2 burst that gave Butler a 29-24 deficit heading into halftime.
"I didn’t think we played particularly bad in the first half just had to correct some stuff," Helmer said.
Slowly but surely, Butler found their way back into the game on the back of sophomore Nero. She was methodical in her approach, but it did the job. She had seven in the third quarter and it pulled Butler back within striking distance after trailing 35-28 with 4:28 to go in the third.
Jaelynn Mclaurian hit a three with 7:48 to go to tie the game at 41-all. Then, Tamara Nard had a bucket to give the Grizzlies their first lead since it was 2-0 at 43-41, forcing a Coffeyville timeout with 7:39 remaining.
Butler’s run reach 13-3 when Beck hit a quarter three with 4:50, putting Butler up 48-44.
"It won’t show up in the box score but Maddie Livingston’s defense was really big for us tonight," Helmer said.
The back-and-forth scoring had Butler with a 50-49 lead with 3:43 remaining.
Then it got wild. Butler and Coffeyville went blow-for-blow after it appeared Butler was going to run away with it. Then, McKenzie Murrel-Patton completed a four-play that brought the Red Ravens within 59-58 with 1:57 to go.
Coffeyville took the lead with 1:36 to go but Nard once again came up with a big bucket. She finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for the Grizzlies.
Camille Downs hit two free throws and Nard iced the game with and-one with 4.9 seconds.
Nero found a rebound off missed free throws and put it back up, giving Butler a three-point lead. Nard grabbed the rebound on the other end, holding the Red Ravens to a one-and-done.
The victory pushes Butler into a first round bye. They’ll participate in the Region VI tournament that will start on Feb. 29 at United Wireless Arena in Dodge City, Kansas. It’s the second straight year Butler has earned a bye in the first round.
"It’s great to keep winning like this," Helmer said. "Now we have to get ready for the Region VI."