BUCO men use big 2nd half to sink Allen County

Ethan Denton
Butler's Keyon Thomas attempts a jumper against Allen County on Saturday, March 27.

EL DORADO, Kansas—For just over 25 minutes on Saturday, the Butler Grizzlies were out of sync, frustrated and getting bested by the visiting Allen County Red Devils, who only entered the contest with a 6-14 record. 

With 15:30 to play, Allen’s Cedric Rollerson hit a three-pointer to put the Red Devils up 39-32. But before they realized what happened, the Grizzlies stormed back with a 26-4 run to put them ahead for good, and Butler would leave the Power Plant with a 75-66 victory to improve them to 16-4 overall and 14-4 in the KJCCC.

“I told our team after the game, that has to be the last unenergetic twenty minutes that we can play the rest of the year,” Butler head coach Kyle Fisher said. “If we give away twenty minutes again, we’re going to get beat.”

The Grizzlies went up against a defense from Allen that extended way out on the perimeter and switched all screens. More often than not, there was always a Red Devil in position to slow a driving lane or contest a passing lane. 

Butler had to go deep into the shot clock on several possessions, yet they managed to shoot 50% from the floor in the first half. What held them back was ten first half turnovers and only making 8 of 14 from the free throw line.

Conversely, the Red Devils did not mind being patient on the offensive end, also taking the shot clock down on multiple occasions. They made 3 of 10 from the three point line, but that was still better than the Grizzlies who only attempted three treys and did not make one.

The second half started in a similar fashion with Allen in control. The Red Devils scored the first six points of the half which was part of a 10-4 run that put them up by seven. 

As quick as lightning, the Grizzlies came alive, starting with a Keyon Thomas three-point basket. Three possessions later with the game tied, Thomas splashed home another three for a 42-39 Butler lead. The Grizzlies would not trail again.

“That’s the best thing Keyon can do for us is hit those shots,” Fisher said. “We need him to shoot the ball for us. The group did a good job of penetrating the defense, making them collapse and getting Keyon open shots.”

The extended run was capped by a breakaway dunk by Donyae McCaskill followed by Thomas’ third trey of the half. Just six minutes after trailing by seven, Butler led 58-43 and Allen never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

McCaskill led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points. Thomas and Shawn Hopkins each had 12, Noah Thomasson 11 and DeeJuan Pruitt 10 for the Grizzlies, who shot 53% from the field while holding Allen County to 41% from the floor.

The Grizzlies will welcome Cowley to the Power Plant on Monday and go to Coffeyville on Wednesday. They are two teams that got Butler’s number earlier in the season and Fisher knows his group will have to bring the energy non-stop going forward.

“It’s going to be a fast-paced game Monday night,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be a slow-down, physical game on Wednesday, and then the region tournament. We’ll see where we get matched up but it’s always going to be a great game in the postseason.”