Butler MBB rebounds with big win over Colby

Lionel Tipton
Butler Grizzlies' guard Keyon Thomas (23) dribbles up the court on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Power Plant in El Dorado, Kansas. The Sophomore helped Butler to the 77-63 win.

EL DORADO—Saturday’s Colby-Butler men’s basketball game played out like the Aesop’s Fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

However, in this case the hare had enough offense to keep the tortoise from overtaking him, as the Grizzlies held on for a 77-63 victory at the Power Plant.

Butler started strong, jumping to a 19-8 lead with 11:12 to go in the opening half. The Grizzlies (5-2) kept the margin around 15 points, but the Trojans (2-3) ended the half on a 12-4 run and were within 10, 33-23, at the break.

The second half played out much the same as the first. Butler pulled away and was expanding its margin to as many as 23 points, 56-33, with 12:09 left in the game. But Colby kept chipping away but couldn’t drop the deficit below 10 points until around the six-minute mark, pulling to within eight points on four occasions. For the half, Colby hit 63 percent from the field.

However, once the Trojans were within 71-63, Colby coach Rusty Elmore received a technical foul for disputing a foul call against forward Dominic Harvey with 53.7 seconds left. 

Butler’s Treylon Payne hit both technical free throws, and fellow freshman DeeJuan Prewitt hit one of two, and the Grizzlies were ahead by double digits again. 

A dunk by Prewitt, who led five Grizzlies in double figures with 18 points, closed the scoring. The 6-foot-8 Prewitt also had eight rebounds; one less than 6-4 Shawn Hopkins’ team-high nine.

Butler coach Kyle Fisher loved the 18/8 output from Prewitt.

“This is the best D.J. has played this year,” Fisher said. “As long as he keeps hanging in there and battling, competing in practice, it’s going to show on the game floor, because he’s a heck of a talent.”

Hopkins, the team’s lone returning player who recently returned from injury, has taken an important role, Fisher said.

“He’s what we call a ‘junkyard dog,’” Fisher said. “He’s everywhere out there, he plays really hard, he plays with great poise and a motor.

“We need all those rebounds. That’s been a glaring weakness of ours so far in our conference season. It was good to see that we could finally win a rebounding battle against a team that’s much bigger.”

Although Colby was hot from the field in the second half, Butler wasn’t cold. The Grizzlies converted half of their field-goal tries in the half and 48.3 percent for the game. Butler won the rebounding battle, 33-24.

Fisher, happy to just get the game in on the third attempt, said he knew not to take Colby lightly.

“We knew they were a good team (and) we knew they weren’t going to go anywhere,” he said. “They initially got back in the game because of our own mistakes. We had a chance to separate late in the second half, and they went zone on us, and we didn’t handle it very well. 

“We did get some good shots early in the possessions against the zone, and we missed them. Then, we got a little timid and played on our heels and started turning it over. Then … they got themselves back in the game.”

Fisher credited Colby’s determination as the final minutes ran down.

“They hit some tough shots there, too, late,” he said. “We didn’t do a good job of guarding the ball, and we let (sophomore guard Jayrese Williams) get comfortable, and he hit five threes (finishing with a game-high 20 points).

“We’ve got to do a better job of closing out games, do a better job of closing out the first half, do a better job of handling the zone defense.”

The Trojans will make some noise in league play this year, Fisher said.

“Colby’s a good team,” he said. “They’re going to win a lot of games this year. They went deep in the region tournament last year. We didn’t play our absolute best, but we’ll certainly take a win.”

The continual delays did Butler no favors, Fisher said. 

“We had a really tough week,” he said. “We had been talking to our guys about being in ‘game mode’ and playing Saturday-Monday-Wednesday, and then we came in Monday and both games are (postponed). So then, we had to give them the day off, because we didn’t think we were playing until Saturday.”

However, a game at Seward County was then added for Thursday, and the Saints easily handled Butler, 86-64. The Grizzlies then had less than 48 hours to regroup from that for Saturday’s game.

“We were kind of yanked around with our schedule a lot,” Fisher said. “It’s hard for the guys to stay in the right mindset through all those changes, but luckily we had a great practice (Friday) and were prepared to play.”

Unless a schedule change arises again, the Grizzlies will next face Barton County at home Wednesday night before three consecutive road games at Northwest Technical College, Cloud County and Independence.