DODGE CITY, KANSAS Toward the end of the season, RaVon Nero trusted Butler head coach Mike Helmer and made the move to point guard. There have been highs and lows for the Sophomore and on Tuesday night, it was one of the highs.
“Ray bought in,” Helmer said. “She adjusted and told her tonight it was her turn tonight.”
Nero tied a career high with 28 points to help the Butler Grizzlies beat Barton 84-52 and win back-to-back Region VI Championships on Tuesday night. She hit four three-pointers in the first half, finishing with six made threes.
“I had to take over that different role,” Nero said. “I just stepped and hit some different shots.”
Nero’s night was capped off as she had zero turnovers in her last conference game with Butler. She commanded the offense. That led to her banging in threes from all over Ford county.
That’s how Butler beat the Cougars at their own game. They shot the three and then they shot it again. They shot 31 three-pointers, a season high and there was little to nothing Barton could do. Butler used it to expose the 2-3 zone the Cougars try to employ.
The Grizzlies finished with 13-of-31 three-pointers on the night. Both are season highs for a Helmer team that does not usually shoot the ball with such frequency.
The 13 made threes are the most since they made 13 against Garden City in Jan. 2017. Their attempts are the most since Butler attempted 30 in a game vs. Bethel JV in Nov. 2017.
It started when Camille Downs and Nero teamed up to give Butler their first lead at 10-6 on back-to-back treys with 6:11 remaining in the quarter and then to get the lead back from Barton midway through the second quarter.
Nero hit back-to-back treys at the end of the first half, giving Butler a 33-25 lead at the break.
Even with the lead, the Grizzlies stepped on the gas as they’ve done all tournament long. They left little to no question who was going to win the game.
“We were making shots in the first,” Downs said. We just continued what we were doing we came to do. We came out ready.”
Carissa Beck hit two threes quickly to push Butler’s lead to double digits and then the bottom fell out for Barton.
“It’s one of the best shooting teams I’ve had in my 12 years,” Helmer said. “I’ve had them buy into defense first and the offense would come.”
When it all had settled, Butler outscored Barton 29-5 in the third quarter and the Grizzlies started to feel it.
Butler led by as many as 37 in the second half.
Camille Downs finished with a near triple-double as she had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Four players scored in double figures, along with Downs and Nero. Jaelynn Mclaurian had 13 points on 3-of-3 from three-point range and Tamara Nard had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Butler now has won six consecutive Region VI games, the second most since 2002. Hutch won 16 over a four-year span.
“To come into this and do what we did for the second year in a row, I’ve brought some teams in here, I know how hard it is,” Helmer said. “That 34-win team I brought here and we lost by 1 to hutch. I know how hard this is.”
The Grizzlies will head to Lubbock, Texas to play in another NJCAA National Tournament game. For now, the Grizzlies are going to enjoy this one.
“We’re going to take 2-3 days off and enjoy this one,” Helmer said. “We are going to bring them in and sit down and see what our expectations are.
I like our chances against anyone.”