VANDALIA – Kort Justice buried a trio of 3-pointers in the opening quarter and Michael Kreill hit another Tuesday night to power Vandalia-Butler to a 17-7 lead over visiting Northmont by the end of the first quarter.
Northmont rallied to send the game into overtime where Justice and Kreill inevitably stepped up again with nine and seven points respectively in OT to power the Aviators to a decisive 70-58 victory.
Despite Butler’s early lead the Thunderbolts fought back with strong defensive play to trail 22-20 at the half and 38-35 after three quarters of play.
The Aviators opened up an 11 point 46-35 lead after a steal and a basket by Bryant Johnson with just over five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Northmont went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 46-42 with 1:45 left. After Sutton Skapik drew a foul by Cameron Rucker and sank one of two free throws Jabari Perkins buried a trey to pull Northmont to within 47-45 with 42 ticks left on the clock.
Skapik got fouled by Perkins and again hit only one of two from the charity stripe. Danny Lewis buried a 3-pointer to tie the game 48-48 with 27 seconds left. Butler worked the clock down and missed a shot underneath as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Kreill and Justice scored back-to-back baskets to open the OT period and Justice drew a foul and converted the bonus shot to boost the Aviators’ lead to 53-48. Lewis hit the first of two 3-pointers in overtime, but the Aviators went to open up a nine point lead and never looked back.
When asked if he expected Northmont to rally after his team took such a big lead, Butler Coach Darren Wyrick said he was not surprised.
“Northmont is a good team. They are well-coached and we knew they would make a run with their pressure,” Wyrick said. “We knew at some point their pressure would probably get to us. It took us a little bit to adjust. Without having Braedon (Norman) in there our depth at guard was kind of spotty, but in overtime as weird as it sounds I feel like we loosen up a bit. Towards the end of the game there was that pressure like, we gotta win, we gotta win, we gotta win. When we got the new four minutes it was like new life. We waited on our cuts; we backed up and got some open looks at the rim that we should have been getting that we were just kind of pressing for early.”
Northmont Coach Collin Abels acknowledged that his team gave Butler too many good looks at the basket in the overtime period.
“A credit to them, but I’d also like to give credit to our guys for fighting to get back in the game and to send it into overtime,” Abels said. “I told our guys that I absolutely love the fact that they are willing to compete no matter what the score is. The other thing I told them is that there are other things off the court that we have got to clean up. I felt like Butler played more disciplined basketball in the overtime period and that is something that we have got to work on. When it gets down to critical moments like that it’s the little things that make the big difference and I felt like Butler did the little things. They attacked the basket, got some deflections and steals and took advantage of us not being in the right place defensively.”
NMT 07 20 35 48 58 – 58
BUT 17 22 38 48 70 – 70
Northmont: Dawson Walker 6, Jabari Perkins 12, Cameron Rucker 3, Jamaal Linson 12, Kameron Mathis 2, Ryan Foy 8, Danny Lewis 15. Totals: 20-9-58.
Butler: Trey Sanders 2, Michael Kreill 16, Kort Justice 28, Bryant Johnson 10, Ryan Wertz 8, Sutton Skapik 6. Totals: 24-18-70.
3-point field goals: Northmont 9 (Lewis 4, Perkins 2, Walker, Rucker, Linson); Butler 4 (Justice 3, Kreill).
Records: Northmont 3-6, Butler 8-1.
JV Score: Northmont 48 Butler 45.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind