Butler picks up sixth straight with big win over Neosho County

Ethan Denton
Noah Thomasson (21) drives to the bucket against Neosho County's De'Andray Hughes (15) on Wednesday, March 3 at the Power Plant in El Dorado, Kansas. Thomasson finished with 18 points and seven assists in the win.

EL DORADO—Shawn Hopkins scored 19 points and the Butler men put forth a balanced scoring attack in picking up their 10th win of the season, a 96-79 victory over the Neosho County Panthers.

The Grizzlies improved to 10-2 overall and 8-2 in the KJCCC while Neosho fell to 4-5 and 2-4 in league play.

The win marked the sixth straight for Butler, and it is the only home game in a stretch of six games with five on the road. The Grizzlies will be at Allen County on Saturday before traveling to nationally ranked Cowley next Wednesday.

Hopkins had plenty of help. DeeJuan Pruitt, Karrington Davis and Noah Thomasson each scored 18 points. The Grizzlies made 12 three-pointers and were productive in the post with 30 points in the paint. That, along with a 41-26 edge on the boards, helped counter 14 made threes from Neosho. Butler coach Kyle Fisher was, and has been satisfied with his offensive production this season.

“We’ve got a very balanced squad,” Fisher said. “I have very few worries on the offensive end. I know when we move the ball we get great shots. We have to continue to improve our defensive rebounding to be able to beat the best teams.”

The Grizzlies would start slow on their home floor on Wednesday, coming off a three-game road swing. Neosho hit four three-pointers to build a 14-7 lead six minutes in. 

“(Neosho) got off to a great start, hitting their first four threes which was frustrating because we had talked about for the last two days that they’re going to shoot 30 or more threes and they’re going to shoot it beyond NBA range.”

Butler would get into gear. A 9-2 run for a 35-29 lead was capped by a four-point play from Davis. In the first half, the Grizzlies forced eight turnovers and scored off of each one for a 16 point advantage in that category. Despite Neosho making 50% of their shots, it was Butler who led 46-36 at the half.

The Panthers kept firing from deep and got within five at 55-50. Butler countered immediately with a 12-3 run and they were in control the rest of the way.

“Nobody in the league had to play three games on the road, nobody in the league had to play five out of six on the road,” Fisher said. “So to be 4-0 during this stretch is a testament to our guys, and our toughness and character. (Now) we need to get off our feet and rest and prepare since we’re in the middle of this stretch. I want our guys to be fresh mentally and physically because we have two tough road games coming up.”