Coach Larry Just likes the core players on a Butler basketball team that has won three straight Sixth Region championships, but he’ll be the first to tell you that it will be the bench that dictates how far the Bearettes can go this season.
Friday night, on the road, Just’s bench came to play and helped Butler earn another regular-season signature win.
Led by freshman Micaiah Bowden and sophomore Miah Casey, the Bearettes opened with a 14-0 run and never trailed in a 59-47 victory over Mercy, which is No. 4 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. It was a rematch of last year’s Sixth Region title game.
Bowden and Casey combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds, going 5 of 6 from the field, as Butler (13-5) controlled the Jaguars (11-6).
“I think (Bowden) and (Casey) both played really well for us — defensively, rebounding, made some big plays — and we need that,” Just said. “They haven’t always scored a lot for us, but that comes along, too, as the year goes on.
“But right now (Bowden and Casey) are giving us a presence down low, and that was big for us. For us to be really successful, we need our bench to give us something.”
It was Butler’s first victory at Mercy since Dec. 17, 2007, and the fourth win overall for a Bearettes squad that managed to hold off a late rally by Mercy.
Trailing by as many as 25 in the first half and 23 at halftime, Mercy trimmed the lead to 41-26. But with 15 seconds to go in the third period, Bowden stepped back and drilled a 3-point dagger that triggered a mob scene on the court following the third-quarter horn.
“I’ll shoot the three,” said Bowden when asked if the long ball is something she’s known for. “I don’t do it as often, but if I need to, I’ll shoot it.”
Butler’s Danielle Lawrence led all scorers with 17 points and was 6-of-10 from the field. She also had eight rebounds.
Mercy, led by Kayla Richardson’s 13 points, cut the deficit to 49-41 on a free throw by Makenzie Stilger with 2:49 remaining, but the Jags were never closer than eight points in the second half.
Butler (13-5) – Lawrence 17, Bowden 10, Stallard 8, Pearson 7, Casey 5, Smith 5, Elliott 4, Winebrenner 3.
Mercy (11-6) – Richardson 13, Hartlage 9, Martin 8, Parr 5, Stilger 4, Doherty 2, White 2, Stovall 2, Bewley 2.
3-point goals – Bowden 1, Smith 1, Martin 2, Hartlage 1, Richardson 1.