Girls' LIT championship: Butler recovers in final minutes to beat Sacred Heart 50-49

Girls' LIT championship: Butler recovers in final minutes to beat Sacred Heart 50-49


Girls' LIT championship: Butler recovers in final minutes to beat Sacred Heart 50-49


Things had fallen apart for the Butler High School girls’ basketball team, which had lost its confidence, its shooting touch and its 14-point halftime lead in Saturday’s championship game of the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament.

Then a sophomore reserve who hadn’t scored all night saved the day.

Micaiah Bowden hit two big baskets in the final minute, the second coming with 32 seconds left to give Butler a 50-49 victory over Sacred Heart at Christian Academy.

The Bearettes had missed 18 of their first 21 shots in the second half, but Bowden made the final two to give Butler its first LIT title since 2008 and fourth overall.

The fact that Bowden was the hero was a testament to Butler’s depth, as nine played at least four minutes.

“Micaiah just makes some basketball plays,” Butler coach Larry Just said. “They’ve all made plays to get us where we are now.”

Butler’s Danielle Lawrence, an IUPUI signee, finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals and earned the LIT’s Joyce Seymour Offense MVP Award. Allison Just added 10 points for Butler (18-2), No. 3 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.

Bellarmine signee Raven Merriweather scored 22 points — including the 1,000th of her career — to lead No. 6 Sacred Heart (18-5). Tennessee-Martin signee DaiJia Ruffin added 11 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Merriweather was named the Bunny Daugherty Defense MVP.

Sacred Heart shot just 32.1 percent in the first half and trailed 37-23 at the break but climbed back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Valkyries played the entire tournament without junior point guard Ashley Johnson, who is expected to return next week after suffering a concussion.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t come away with the win, but Butler is a very good ball team,” Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir said. “I’m really proud of my kids that we didn’t give up. We kept battling and battling. … We took the lead. We just have to be able to finish.”

Sacred Heart opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run to pull within 39-34 and took the lead at 47-46 on Ruffin’s free throw with 3:42 left.

Meanwhile, Butler struggled on the offensive end — epitomized by Jaelynn Penn’s miss of a wide-open layup with 1:36 remaining.

“I think that was our youth and figuring out how to fight through some adversity,” Just said.

After a Sacred Heart turnover, Bowden scored her first points after a nice pass from Lawrence on a back-door cut to give Butler a 48-47 lead with 51 seconds left.

Merriweather hit two free throws to give Sacred Heart a 49-48 lead with 43.3 seconds left, but Bowden answered with a basket to make it 50-49 with 32 seconds left.

Sacred Heart’s Meghan Colley missed a 3-point try, but Penn missed the front end of a one-and-one with 6.6 seconds left.

After a tipped pass went out of bounds with 0.9 second left, Sacred Heart had a final inbounds play under its own basket. Colley’s 14-foot baseline jumper rattled out at the buzzer, sparking a Butler celebration.

“This was huge for us,” said Just, whose top nine players include four freshmen and two sophomores. “Being a young basketball team and figuring out how to survive is what it was. … I think it’s going to pay dividends down the road.”

With three weeks left in the regular season, Butler may well take over the No. 1 ranking in a state that has been searching for a front-runner all season.

Lawrence said the Bearettes are prepared for the stretch run.

“I felt like we sent a message to everybody. We have our confidence up, and we’re ready for anybody.”

SACRED HEART 13 10 15 11 – 49

BUTLER 16 21 6 7 – 50

Sacred Heart (18-5) – Samsel 6, Randal 2, Merriweather 22, Me. Colley 4, Ruffin 11, Taylor 4.

Butler (18-2) – Torrens 2, Jeffries 4, Bowden 4, Lawrence 17, Penn 4, Winebrenner 3, Casey 6, Just 10.

3-point goals: Lawrence 2, Just 2.

Joyce Seymour Offense MVP Award: Danielle Lawrence (Butler).

Bunny Daugherty Defense MVP Award: Raven Merriweather (Sacred Heart).

All-tournament team: Danielle Lawrence, Jaelynn Penn (Butler); DaiJia Ruffin, Raven Merriweather (Sacred Heart); Makenzie Cann, Eriel McKee (Anderson County); Dasia Kilbourne (Franklin County); Ivy Brown (LaRue County); Lindsey Duvall (Bullitt East); Javonna Layfield (Ballard).


More USA TODAY High School Sports