Butler women's basketball earns 12 seed at NJCAA national tournament

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
The Butler Grizzlies qualify for their third straight national tournament

The Butler Grizzlies women's basketball team might have lost in the semifinals of the Region VI tournament but that didn't end their season. 

Mike Helmer and the Grizzlies will make their third consecutive trip to the national tournament as the selection committee picked Butler among the pool on Sunday afternoon.

The Grizzlies went 20-3 this season, including win streaks of 13 and six. 

For Butler, it is the fifth national tournament appearance in school history with 2014 being the first. All five appearances have come under Helmer, who has amassed an impressive 294-116 record during his 13 seasons at Butler. 

He's won the Region VI tournament twice and has won the divisional title multiple times. 

The Grizzlies are led by Skyla Knight, the sophomore is averaging 14.6 points and 2.8 steals per game. 

Butler will play 21st-seeded Otero Junior College. The Lady Rattlers qualified into the national tournament by winning Region IX, also known as the Northwest Plains district, by upsetting third-ranked nationally, Casper, in overtime, 94-89. 

Otero JC is located in La Junta, Colorado, which is about 90 minutes from the Kansas border off US-50. It's also an hour east of Pueblo, Colorado. The Rattlers had won 13 consecutive games this season before losing to Western Nebraska by 20.

It won't be the first time the two schools have played. They met in Colorado in 2015 with Butler winning 91-43. 

The two teams will tip-off at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 19 on the campus of Lubbock Christian University. The games will be streamed live on NJCAA TV.

If Butler can prevail, they will play fifth-seeded Northwest Florida State (20-2). 

The Grizzlies were picked for last year's national tournament. However, due to COVID-19, it was cancelled the day Butler was scheduled to leave El Dorado. 

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.