HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – In a back-and-forth game befitting of the state’s top two girls basketball teams, Butler High School’s Janna Lewis hit the shot that will go down in history.
Lewis 12-footer with 1 second left gave the Bearettes a 61-59 victory over Elizabethtown on Friday in the quarterfinals of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 in front of 2,910 fans at BB&T Arena.
After Erin Boley’s jumper tied the score at 59 with 53 seconds left, Butler held the ball for the final shot and Lewis nailed a jumper from the left side of the lane for the game-winner.
“We had something else we were looking for, and they took it away,” Butler coach Larry Just said of the final shot. “Janna stepped to a good spot, and Bre (Torrens) found her. Janna had space and got up on the glass, which is what you have to do at that point. Thank goodness it went in.”
PHOTO GALLERY | Butler vs. Elizabethtown
Lewis hit 7 of 8 shots and scored 20 points to lead Butler (29-5), No. 2 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. The Bearettes avenged a 60-37 loss to E’town on Dec. 23 in the final of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
“I turned around and saw that I was open,” Lewis said of the game-winning shot. “I thought someone would be right there. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll shoot it.’ It ended up going in. It feels good, and it feels good that it was against E’town. People were doubting us, and we actually won.”
Jaelynn Penn added 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals as the Bearettes advanced to face No. 7 Murray (35-1) in Saturday’s 8 p.m. semifinal.
Erin Boley had 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead E’town (30-5), which entered the Sweet 16 with the No. 1 state ranking for the third straight year. The Panthers fell to Butler in the 2014 state final and lost to eventual champion Covington Holy Cross in last year’s quarterfinals.
The Panthers were in control early, taking a 28-14 lead on Rachel Warden’s two free throws at the 4:34 mark of the second quarter.
Just said his team was way too passive in the early going.
“We scrapped that real quick because that wasn’t who we were,” Just said. “We talked about … trying to get these guys moving around a lot more instead of just being comfortable. From the second quarter on we did a much better job of that.”
Butler battled to within 33-26 at halftime and took its first lead of the second half, 44-42, on Tasia Jeffries’ layup with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
The second half featured nine lead changes. Micaiah Bowden’s 3-point play with 2:39 left gave Butler a 59-55 lead. Boley hit two free throws with 2:27 left to make it 59-57, and her jumper with 53 seconds left tied the score at 59.
E’town chose to lay back in a zone during the final possession, allowing Butler to run down the clock for the final shot.
“We’re a zone team; that’s who we are,” E’town coach Tim Mudd said. “That’s because of what we do well. I figured he’d hold it for the last shot, but with that in mind, don’t let Penn or don’t let Jeffries beat you. You can ‘if’ and ‘and’ it to death. I get it.”
Just said he was grateful to be able to hold for the final shot.
“I really thought with that much time left you’d come out for at least a little bit and take a chance to get another steal or turnover or walk,” he said. “The fact that he sat back, I thought, ‘Hey, I’m willing to take that chance. I’ll take the last shot.’”
Many observers pegged the Butler-E’town winner as the favorite to take the title. Just said he’s warned his team about Saturday’s contest with Murray being a “trap game.”
“Everyone wants to look forward to playing Sunday,” Just said. “If you don’t take care of (Saturday), you don’t get to Sunday. We have to get these kids back down to earth and focused on playing good basketball.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELIZABETHTOWN 19 14 12 14 – 59
BUTLER 9 17 20 15 – 61
Elizabethtown (30-5) – Boley 22, Deaton 2, Thomas 10, Stinson 14, Warden 8, Knight 3.
Butler (29-5) – Bowden 11, Jeffries 10, Penn 14, Just 2, Goodlett 2, Lockhart 2, Lewis 20.
3-point goals – Thomas 2, Stinson 2, Warden 2, Knight; Jeffries.