The Butler Grizzlies men’s and women’s are set to participate in the 2020 NJCAA Region VI Tournament this week and next week in Dodge City.


The Region VI Tournaments were held at Hartman Arena in Park City in previous seasons. However, due to state wrestling for the next three years, the schedule conflict will force the tournament out of Hartman and head west.


Women’s Preview


The Grizzlies women’s team will be the No. 1 seed in the women’s side as they earned a first round bye and will play on Saturday, Feb. 29 against either Pratt or Neosho County at 1 p.m. to open up the quarterfinals.


Butler’s season may not have been as successful as head coach Mike Helmer wanted


"I’ve probably been harder on this team mentally than any other team," Helmer said. "I just felt we could be better than what we were."


The results have paid off. Butler won at least 20 games for eight straight seasons.


Butler started the season 8-4 heading into conference play. That’s when Butler really found their groove. After losing to Seward County in the conference opener, Butler won eight of their next nine games, including three of those by double digits.


They’ve had some impressive come from behind wins, such as the 23-point comeback to Independence and again a double digit comeback at Neosho on Feb. 12.


Butler has been led by RaVon Nero and Tamara Nard. The 1-2 punch provides a real inside-out game that a lot of teams in JUCO basketball lack. Nero can get hot and take over games, as we saw in the second half against Coffeyville.


Nard, originally signed with Missouri-Kansas City before transferring to Butler has really come on as of late. In February, Nard is averaging 18.1 points and 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.


It hasn’t been all roses for the Grizzlies. Losses to Independence at home; a stunning road loss to Garden City and getting blown out by Cowley leave you scratching your head.


They never quit, It’s something the Butler coaching staff has instilled in them and outside of one game, they’ve been battling through the other 29 games.


As stated, Butler gets Pratt or Neosho in the quartefinals on Saturday. Butler has dominated the two series. They’ve won 16 straight over Neosho County, dating back to Nov. 2009 and they’ve won 20 straight over Pratt, dating back to Feb. 2009, the last losing season for the Grizzlies.


Men’s Preview


The Grizzlies are 22-8 and are just on the outside of the NJCAA Top 25 but should be eyeing a return with the win on Saturday.


Butler men’s team unfortunately lost to Coffeyville 77-73 on Saturday but their seeding was already set and they are the No. 3 for the tournament.


Butler (22-7) are having their best season since 2014-15, when Butler won 29 games and went to the NJCAA National Tournament.


Before Saturday’s loss, the Grizzlies were one of the hottest Jayhawk team, winning six straight and almost made the 17-point comeback on Saturday but ultimately fell short.


Butler doesn’t lose many close games. They’re not in many either. They’re 4-1 in games decided by six points or less. They are 16-5 in games that are decided by 10 points or more.


You could tell early this Butler team was different than year’s before. After getting beat by State Fair CC, they came home and got revenge against Iowa Western. In previous years, that may have been back-to-back losses as those teams did not appear to be mentally as strong as this year’s group.


They’ll play Garden City (9-21) on Wednesday, Feb. 26 in the opening round of the tournament. The first round has the higher seed hosting the opening round, with the winners advancing to Dodge City for the quarterfinals and beyond.


If the Grizzlies can get by the Broncbusters, they’ll play Pratt or Neosho County on Sunday, March 1 at 5 p.m.


The Grizzlies will not overlook a Broncbuster team that Coach Kyle Fisher calls very talented but raw.


Butler still has an outside shot of an at large bid to the National Tournament in Hutchinson. If Butler can win four more games, that would put them into the finals they could slip in as an at large team. They would need to lose to Colby in the Championship Game and not many upsets around the country for that to happen.


Butler has to control their own destiny. That means win five more games. Take out everyone in your path and return to the NJCAA National Tournament for the first time since 2014-15.


If Butler can get by Garden City, they’ll get Pratt or Neosho County, like the women’s game will.


Butler has won back-to-back games vs. Garden City, with their last loss coming in the 2017-18 season.


Butler has won four striaght against Pratt, with a 95-93 loss in Feb. 2017 their last loss.


Butle has won three striaght over Neosho, all by double digits. Butler split with Neosho last season.


Women’s First round; Wednesday, Feb. 26


Game 1 No. 9 Neosho County (17-13) at No. 8 Pratt (17-13), 6 p.m.


Game 2 No. 12 Colby (18-12) at No. 5 Independence (17-10), 6 p.m.


Game 3 No. 13 Allen (8-21) at No. 4 Seward County (23-6), 6 p.m.


Game 4 No. 14 Garden City (11-19) at No. 3 Coffeyville (24-6), 5:30 p.m.


Game 5 No. 11 Cloud County (9-21) at No. 6 Barton (15-15), 5:30 p.m.


Game 6 No. 10 Dodge City (15-15) at No. 7 Cowley (19-11), 7 p.m.


Quarterfinals; Sunday, March 1


Game 7 Game 1 winner vs. No. 1 Butler (22-8), 1 p.m.


Game 8 Game 6 winner vs. No. 2 Hutchinson (27-3), 3 p.m.


Game 9 Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m.


Game 10 Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.


Semifinals; Monday, March 2


Game 11 Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 1 p.m.


Game 12 Game 7 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 3 p.m.


Region VI Championship; Tuesday, March 3


Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 5 p.m.


Men’s First round, Wednesday, Feb. 26


Game 1 No. 9 Allen (16-14) at No. 8 Hutchinson (22-8), 7 p.m.


Game 2 No. 12 Dodge City (11-19) at No. 5 Coffeyville (22-8), 7:30 p.m.


Game 3 No. 13 Cloud County (10-20) at No. 4 Barton (22-8), 7:30 p.m.


Game 4 No. 14 Garden City (9-21) at No. 3 Butler (22-7), 7 p.m.


Game 5 No. 11 Neosho County (11-19) at No. 6 Pratt (19-11), 8 p.m.


Game 6 No. 10 Seward County (17-13) at No. 7 Independence (22-8), 8 p.m.


Quarterfinals; Sunday, March 1


Game 7 Game 1 winner vs. No. 1 Cowley (25-5), 1 p.m.


Game 8 Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 3 p.m.


Game 9 Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m.


Game 10 Game 6 winner vs. Colby (26-4), 7 p.m.


Semifinals, Monday, March 2


Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 5 p.m.


Game 12 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.


Region VI Championship Game; Tuesday, March 3


Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 7 p.m.