Behind a solid defense and a relentless attack of the offensive boards, the Butler High School girls basketball team moved one victory away from a regional championship.
Jaelynn Penn posted 15 points and nine rebounds and the Bearettes sank a bevy of free throws in the final minutes to defeat Bullitt East 58-49 on Wednesday in a semifinal of the Class Act Federal Credit Union Sixth Region Tournament at Valley.
Butler coach Larry Just said stopping Bullitt East’s transition game and keeping the Chargers off the boards were keys to the game plan. Bullitt East shot just 39.1 percent (18 of 46), and Butler finished with a 37-26 advantage on the boards.
“I couldn’t be any more pleased with our defense and rebounding,” Just said. “I was disappointed offensively because I didn’t think we had very good spacing and understanding of what we should be doing. But we made enough shots and got enough offensive rebounds … to change the complexion of the game.”
Tasia Jeffries, Teri Goodlett and Janna Lewis all added 11 points apiece as Butler (26-5) – No. 2 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – advanced to face Mercy in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. regional final at Valley.
Lindsey Duvall, a junior guard who has committed to the University of Kentucky, scored 17 points to lead No. 16 Bullitt East (21-6). Kathleen Scott added 11 points.
Chargers coach Chris Stallings said Butler’s 18 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds “really hurt us.”
“In tight games, when you get stops you have to get the ball,” Stallings said. “We didn’t get that enough.”
Bullitt East led 9-8 late in the first quarter, but Butler used a 12-4 run to take a 20-13 halftime lead. The Chargers hit just 6 of 22 shots (27.3 percent) in the first half.
Goodlett scored nine points during the third quarter as Butler took a 34-19 lead, but Bullitt East made a final surge.
Duvall’s three-point play pulled the Chargers within 45-38 with 2:47 remaining, but they never got closer as Butler hit 20 of 26 free throws in the fourth quarter.
On Saturday, Butler will face a Mercy team it went 1-1 against during the regular season. The Bearettes won 60-37 on Dec. 22, and the Jaguars won the rematch 73-71 on Jan. 15.
“It’s going to be a heck of a game Saturday, as it should be,” Just said. “We know what’s coming.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
BULLITT EAST 9 4 7 29 – 49
BUTLER 10 10 14 24 – 58
Bullitt East (21-6) – Duvall 17, Scott 11, Peak 8, Henn 6, Williams 7.
Butler (26-5) – Torrens 4, Jeffries 11, Bowden 2, Penn 15, Goodlett 11, Lockhart 2, Lewis 11, Just 2.
3-point goals – Penn, Goodlett.