The Butler High School girls’ basketball team used a 22-2 first-half run to overwhelm Holy Cross on its way to a 67-22 victory Thursday night in the semifinals of the Sixth Region Tournament at Valley.
The Bearettes (27-3), No. 3 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, punched a ticket to their seventh straight regional final, where they will face Mercy at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, also at Valley.
“I’ll speak for the previous coach, too, but we’ve been lucky to have good players who were willing to buy into what we do,” Butler coach Larry Just said. “We’ve had some luck through the years to get to this point (another regional final). It’s nice to be back to where we need to be, or want to be.”
Still, Just sees defending regional champion Mercy as the favorite.
“This region goes through Mercy, not us,” he said.
The Bearettes have won 15 straight games since a 50-47 loss to Ballard on Jan. 14.
They took over early against Holy Cross, already holding a comfortable 15-6 lead before the devastating run started. With suffocating defensive pressure, the Bearettes forced the Cougars (15-15) into 15 first-half turnovers.
“Clearly the press disrupted them and got us going,” Just said. “We got some easy baskets. … That’s what we’ve been fortunate enough to do all year, create some offense with our defense.”
Holy Cross finished with 18 turnovers.
“We knew they would put pressure on us,” coach Fred Copass said. “I thought we’d handle it better than that, and we didn’t.
“They’re good. They’re very athletic and they keep bringing them in and out. They can shoot the ball.”
The lead continued to grow and a running clock started after Butler went up by 35 two minutes into the third quarter.
Allison Just paced a balanced Butler attack with 12 points.
Rebecca Miller led Holy Cross with nine points. Josie Hockman added seven points and seven rebounds.
Butler freshman Teri Goodlett, a former starter, returned to action and hit a late free throw. She missed a month with a sprained neck that required her to wear a brace.
“She’s been through a lot,” Larry Just said. “She’s been a big part of what we do.”
GIRLS SIXTH REGION TOURNAMENT
HOLY CROSS 6 2 7 7 — 22
BUTLER 17 20 18 12 – 67
Holy Cross (15-15) – Hockman 7, Blackwell 2, Lockwood 1, Miller 9, Roarx 2, Newton 1.
Butler (27-3) – Rice 4, Jeffries 3, Bowden 9, Lawrence 9, Lane 2, Penn 6, Goodlett 1, Winebrenner 9, Casey 6, Lewis 6, Just 12.
3-point goals: Jeffries 1, Just 1, Winebrenner 2.