25th-ranked Butler uses defense to beat Pratt CC, 67-47

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Butler's Cameren Downs (5) brings the ball up on a fast break in the Grizzlies win over Pratt on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Butler's defense was on display on Saturday night as the 25th-ranked team in the nation held Pratt to 27.7 percent shooting. 

"I thought we came out a little sluggish," Butler Head Coach Mike Helmer said. "We figured it out in the second and third quarters, but we definitely weren't ourselves early."

Butler held Pratt without a three in the first half and made the offensive life of the Pratt Beavers a nightmare all night in the 67-47 win.

As Skyla Knight jump started the Butler offense, who went more than four minutes without scoring to start the game. She bounced the ball off the back of a defender who was faced away from her on an in bounds play, and scored easily. 

From there, Butler found their rhythm, taking the lead a minute later on a layup by Knight. 

The momentum catapulted the Grizzlies in the lead at the end of the quarter, 14-12. That's when Butler would go on a 12-0 run in the third, spanning 3:34. 

"I really thought we woke up there in the second quarter," Helmer said. "We started having fun and playing like ourselves again."

After Pratt tried to get back into it, outscoring Butler 7-5 over the half's final six minutes, it was the run in the third quarter that separated the two. 

Butler outscored Pratt 24-11 in the third, spurred on by six points from Tamara Nard, who finished with seven points on the night. 

The biggest offensive difference in the quarter was the shooting of Carissa Beck. The sophomore from Circle High has become a sharp shooting threat and made the Beavers pay any time she was left open. She hit four threes, including taking a charge in the fourth quarter. 

"I'm always going to look for a good shot," Beck said. "If it's not there, I'm not going to take it. It's about finding the right shot that can help the team."

Beck finished with 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting with five rebounds an assist.

The Grizzlies shot 45 percent on the night, including 23.5 percent from deep. Butler found themselves getting progressively better as the night went on and when it mattered. 

10 different Grizzlies scored and three hit double figures. Knight finished with 12 points on 6 of 10 shooting. 

Kaylee Nero had 11 points, with 10 in the second half for Butler.

"I'll never say a player is the best in the league," Helmer said. "She is definitely one of the best though."

In her second game with Butler, MeKayla Furman scored eight points. She is a transfer from Trinity Valley CC (TX). 

"She's a transfer we got at the start of the semester and she's only had 8-9 practices," Helmer said. "She can definitely play."

The Grizzlies are back on the court Wednesday night as Butler hosts Garden City (3-1, 1-1 KJCCC) at 5:30 p.m. at the Power Plant.

"Coach [Ericka] Mattingly played for Coach [Antonio] Scales at South, won four straight titles for them," Helmer said. 

"It should be another tough game."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.