Butler men pick up road win in blowout of Pratt

Butler improves to 1-1 on the road this season.

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Shawn Hopkins (5) tries to dribble between two Pratt CC defenders, AJ Weston (1) and Carlos Montiel (32) on Saturday, Feb. 6. Hopkins helped Butler pick up the win on the road.

PRATT, Kansas—It may have been snowing outside in Kansas on Saturday but at the Beaver Dome in Pratt, it was raining 3s for the Butler Grizzlies. 

Butler hit 13 three-pointers as they found an impressive road victory over the Pratt Beavers 91-60.

The win followed up a come from behind victory that stunned rival Hutchinson and gave cause to a potential let down. However, there would be no let down as the Grizzlies jumped on Pratt and never let them get close. 

"We didn't do a good job on the offensive glass but I am happy with how we came out and played early," Butler Head Coach Kyle Fisher said. 

Butler improves to 4-1 on the season and are now 2-1 in Jayhawk Conference play. 

Butler grabbed their first double digit lead when Shawn Hopkins made two free throws, giving Butler the 23-13 lead with 9:04 remaining. Hopkins followed it up with a jumper to push the lead to 12. 

It was a Hopkins half as he had nine points. He was aggressive and taking every little space Pratt gave him. His three that opened the game opened the perimeter for Butler, who's not known for their three-point shooting. 

After Pratt had cut the Butler lead to 29-19 on a three by Tommy Thomas, it lit something in Butler as the Grizzlies would go on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes

Treylon Payne's hesitation step and drive to the rim with 5:07 remaining put Butler up by 12 once again. Then, Nick Bowden, DeeJaun Pruitt and Isaiah Williams all followed up with threes of their own. 

"We have really good shooters," Pruitt said. "We were able to hit those shots."

Butler (4-1) held Pratt without a field goal for all but three seconds in the final five minutes of the half. 

One large reason for the defensive stops and the improved transition game was Butler's ability to limit Pratt to only one-and-done attempts. Pratt had five offensive rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the game. They had zero the final 10 minutes of the half.

"They had seven of their first 13 points on second chance points," Fisher said. "We're not blocking out and rebounding the way we should."

Butler led 44-23 at the break.

The Beavers made a push early in the second half to get back in the game. However, they never could really make dent in the lead. Thomas hit a three and Malcom Whitlow hit free throws, bringing the Butler lead within 18.

Butler answered back with a 13-0 that spanned more than three minutes powered by a mammoth dunk by Pruitt and Bowden nailed another three as the Grizzlies pushed their lead to 31 with 11:35 remaining.

Pratt's Thomas was a one-man wrecking crew and tried to do everything he could. He would finish with 33 points on 3 of 3 shooting. He pulled down 10 rebounds and hit all but one of Pratt's made 3s on the night.

"We weren't really worried about him coming in," Fisher said. "We — I — didn't do a good job of preparing for him. He hurt us in the first half then we adjusted."

Despite the win, rebounding was once again an issue for Butler. They were out-rebounded by seven and gave up 14 offensive rebounds. It appeared after their stellar first half performance it would be more of the same in the second but Pratt found a large portion of their points, 17 points, off those rebounds. 

"We're just not tough enough right now," Shawn Hopkins said. "When we can find that toughness, we'll be alright."

Noah Thomasson was once again the stabilizer for the win. He finished with 18 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including 3 of 3 from deep. He dished out 3 assists and had seven rebounds. 

Pruitt had a team high 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting. 

"He had some nice catches and he's really come along way already this season," Fisher said. "Excited for what he can do for this program.

In all, Butler shot 51.7 percent from the field and 54.2 percent from beyond the arc. Butler also held Pratt to only 33 percent shooting.

"We're a pretty good shooting team," Fisher said. "It's tough early to tell if you're just shooting well or if you're playing well. We hit open shots and continued."

The Grizzlies will host Colby (2-1, 2-1) on Monday at the Power Plant. It's a rescheduled game from January when Colby had to quarantine due to COVID. Then, on Wednesday night, they host Garden City (2-1, 1-1) at the Power Plant. Garden City beat Neosho County on Saturday for their first conference win.

"This is the toughest stretch for us," Fisher said. "I'm trying not to look past the Super Bowl and Colby, but we'll be fine once we get through it."

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.