BUHLER — A senior class of seven paved the way Tuesday night for the Buhler High School girls basketball team in a 50-41 win over league-foe El Dorado.
Tuesday night was Senior Night for Buhler, although the Crusaders will likely play two more games inside Jim Baker Fieldhouse. Buhler hosts Circle on Thursday in a make-up game, and currently sits in position to host one sub-state game.
Against El Dorado, six of Buhler’s seven seniors recorded a point. Seniors Haley Miller and Kara Stutterheim led the team offensively with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
"The seniors have meant a lot to this program, because a lot of them have been playing since their freshman years," Buhler coach Brittany Warner said. "They’ve had a lot of playing time together, and their chemistry is evident on the court."
Alyvia Owens, who scored 10 points, came off the bench to allow fellow senior Jolene Moore to get her first start of the season. Moore opened the scoring with a layup at the 7:43 mark of the first quarter to give the Crusaders a lead they would never surrender.
"Credit to the girls. They all wanted to give Jolene the start," Warner said. "I thought that was a cool and unselfish thing to do."
Buhler scored the first seven points before El Dorado’s Brooklyn Motter connected on a running floater. A Maggie Epp steal and score gave Buhler a 12-4 lead after one.
Miller and El Dorado’s Bailey Camien opened the second quarter by trading 3s. Buhler closed the first half on an 8-5 run, capped off by a Kara Stutterheim buzzer-beating layup off an assist from Miller.
Buhler didn’t slow down in the second half. Miller and Epp began the third with back-to-back 3s, and the Crusaders scored the first eight points of the second half.
El Dorado’s Kenzie Eaton drilled consecutive 3s to stop the bleeding, but Owens and Stutterheim closed the third quarter with layups to put the Crusaders up 39-22.
El Dorado won the fourth quarter by a 19-11 margin. Camien’s third and final 3 with 27.8 seconds left cut the deficit to 50-39. Moments later, Motter picked off a Buhler pass at midcourt and took it back for a layup with 10 seconds left to bring the final score to single digits.
"This is a very resilient group," El Dorado coach Jordan Crawford said. "It’s nice to end the game on a high note. We didn’t quit, and made it fun for everybody."
Buhler, now 12-7 (6-3 in AVCTL DIII), hosts Circle on Thursday to conclude the regular season. The Crusaders lost to Circle by 10 points on Jan. 7.
"Our girls are really competitive with Circle. They really want to beat them," Warner said. "I think we’ll have a lot of motivation and come ready to play on Thursday."
El Dorado drops to 3-17 overall and 2-9 in league play. The top 16 out of 18 teams qualify for sub-state in 4A the West and East, and the Wildcats currently sit in 16th place in the West.
"I’m not afraid to say it. Those one and two seeds know we’re a very scary 15 or 16 seed," Crawford said. "If we show up, we can play with a lot of these teams."