EL DORADO – Butler held Garden City without a bucket for more than seven minutes and the Grizzlies won their first game as a ranked team in almost five years, beating 14th-seeded Garden City 74-56 on Wednesday night.
“Yeah, we were a little nervous because of that [the ranking,” sophomore Juwan White said. “We are past that now with the win.”
White finished with 17 points off the bench to lead the Grizzlies, all on the second half.
“I just went out and did what my team needed me to do,” White said. “We all can contribute at any time. It's a blessing.”
Four players were in double figures for the Grizzlies, including White. Shawn Hopkins had 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Grehlon Easter finished with 15 points and Javaunte Hawkins had 11 for Butler.
The Grizzlies improve to 23-7 on the year and will move onto the quarterfinals of the Region VI Tournament in Dodge City, Kansas this weekend.
“Any time you're ranked that can weigh on you,” First year Grizzlies head coach Kyle Fisher said. “Especially this time of year when it's one-and-done.”
It is the first time Butler advances out of the first round since the 2016-17 when the Grizzlies made it to the semifinals; losing 105-103 to Hutchinson in a thriller.
After starting 1-of-7 from the floor, Hopkins had a nice run, giving Butler their first lead since the opening minute, hitting two free throws. Then, Hopkins scored eight of the next 12 as Butler opened up a 10-point lead for the first time in the game.
Hopkins scored a layup with 2:05 remaining for the final bucket of the half. Butler led 26-16 at the break.
Easter hit a three to start the second half and Hopkins went back to work as Butler quickly added some cushion to their first half lead.
Then, White scored 13 consecutive points over a 3-minute span that put the game out of reach.
“I picked up two quick fouls in the first half,” White said. “I had to be there for my team in the second half.”
Javaunte Hawkins then baited the Jayhawk's leading scorer, Kahlik Chavez into a technical foul. After Hawkins drew the charge, he took the ball out of the hands of Chavez, who was laying on the ground in front of the official. The official said nothing, and Chavez said something in the face of Hawkins and received a technical.
Hawkins made both free throws and then hit a three seven seconds later and the Grizzlies led 53-33 with 11:18 remaining.
Garden City had a 13-3 run midway through the second half, cutting it to 60-49 with 5:00. Then, Garden City head coach Patrick Nee called a timeout that appeared to be unorthodox for the second time on the night.
Twice in the game, Nee called a timeout after a big Garden City play. First, Michael Frazier hit a three to put the BroncBusters up by three. Then, in the second half, Garden City cut the deficit from 20 down to 11 but a timeout called by Nee once again let the Grizzlies regroup. Butler went on a 14-7 run to put the game out of reach.
The Grizzlies limited the Jayhawk's leading scorer, Chavez, to only 17 points, many of those were late in the game when the game was out of reach. It's also the third consecutive game where Chavez was held to under 20 points.
Garden City finishes the season 9-22 and now have lost their last five and 11 of their last 12 games.
The BroncBusters have not advanced to the Region VI quarterfinals since the 2015-16 season.
Butler advances to play Neosho County (12-19) on Sunday, March 1 at Dodge City's United Wireless Arena at 5 p.m. Neosho beat Pratt 104-90 on Wednesday night to advance.
The Grizzlies won swept the Panthers in the regular season, winning their final meeting 100-67.
“We are solely focused on the team in front of us,” Fisher said. “Just like we were focused Garden City, we'll be focused on Neosho County.”