Bre Torrens scored 10 points, hitting 4 of 4 free throws in the final 30 seconds, to lead Butler to a 54-47 victory over Franklin County in Friday’s quarterfinals of the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
After shooting 30.2 percent against Butler in a 58-43 loss in last Saturday’s Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic at Mercy, Franklin County shot 37 percent (17 of 46) in Friday’s rematch.
“Give (Butler) credit,” Flyers coach Joey Thacker said. “They’re a good defensive ball club.”
Tasia Jeffries and Jaelynn Penn both scored nine points and Janna Lewis added eight for Butler (17-3), the defending LIT champion and No. 12 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. Butler advanced to face No. 2 Henderson County (20-1) in Saturday’s 10 a.m. semifinal.
Penn, Butler’s top scorer, returned to action after missing Wednesday’s victory over North Bullitt with an illness.
“I don’t know if she’s 100 percent, but she’s working back toward that,” Butler coach Larry Just. “She’s trying to get back her rhythm and flow and timing.”
Dasia Kilbourne scored 14 points to lead No. 17 Franklin County (16-4). Princess Stewart added nine points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Rebecca Cook added nine points.
Thacker said his team was bothered by physical play and Butler’s defense.
“You can’t make long lazy passes against them, or they’re going to make you pay,” he said. “We just had some kids who kind of shied away from the ball, and they got some points off turnovers.”
Kilbourne’s layup tied the score at 39 with 3:00 left in the third quarter, but Butler responded with a 9-2 run. Allison Just nailed a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the third, and Penn opened the fourth quarter with a basket for a 48-41 lead.
Torrens said defense was the key to the run.
“We missed some shots, so we had to make up for it on defense,” she said. “We were picking each other up and letting each other know it was OK.”
Kilbourne’s two free throws pulled Franklin County within 50-47 with 3:05 left, and the Flyers had three straight possessions with a chance to pull closer but couldn’t.
As Franklin County had only two team fouls, Butler was able to run more than a minute off the clock before being forced to the free-throw line. Torrens hit a pair for a 52-47 lead with 28.4 seconds left and sealed it with two more at the 0:12.5 mark.
“We shoot free throws in practice every day, so I felt comfortable,” Torrens said.
Just said playing a quality team such as Franklin County for the second time in a week was beneficial.
“It’s a great lesson because everybody we play down the road we’re going to be playing a second time,” he said. “Second games are never the same as the first. It’s important to have something like that to point to as we work toward the regional.”
Franklin County (16-4) – Frank 6, Kilbourne 14, Stewart 9, Arrastia 5, Cook 9, Courtney 4.
Butler (17-3) – Torrens 10, Jeffries 9, Harris 2, Bowden 4, Penn 9, Goodlett 4, Winebrenner 2, Lewis 8, Just 6.
3-point goals – Kilbourne, Arrastia; Jeffries, Penn, Just 2.