Butler knocks off Sacred Heart in Sweet 16

Butler knocks off Sacred Heart in Sweet 16


Butler knocks off Sacred Heart in Sweet 16


Butler's Tasia Jeffries drives on Sacred Heart's Kiki Samsel during the first half.

Butler’s Tasia Jeffries drives on Sacred Heart’s Kiki Samsel during the first half.

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – It’s not often the Butler High School girls basketball team gets to play the revenge angle, but the Bearettes seemed to enjoy it Wednesday.

A month after losing to Sacred Heart, Butler turned the tables with a 50-36 victory in the first round of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.

“Obviously for us, this was a big game, and I think our kids were pretty motivated coming in based on the last time that we played Sacred Heart,” said Butler coach Larry Just, whose team ran its winning streak to eight since that loss. “I know our group was ready to play.”

Jaelynn Penn scored 15 points and Tasia Jeffries added 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead Butler (33-2) in a highly anticipated game between what many believe were the top two teams to qualify for the Sweet 16.

Butler – No. 1 in the state in the Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – advanced to face No. 8 Murray (27-5) in Friday’s noon quarterfinal. Just said he isn’t concerned about a possible letdown as the Bearettes chase their third state championship in four seasons.


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“This group went through last year beating E’town in the quarterfinal and we still had to come back and play two great teams to finish that off,” Just said. “So this group has been through that. Sacred Heart is a great team, and we understand that. But we also understand that we’d like to be here Sunday and play for what we came for.”

Grace Berger posted 13 points and 10 rebounds for No. 5 Sacred Heart (29-6), which couldn’t replicate its hot shooting from the Seventh Region Tournament. On Wednesday, the Valkyries hit just 9 of 37 shots (24.3 percent) and committed 15 turnovers.

Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir credited Butler’s defense.

“They ran a lot of kids at us and put a lot of pressure on Grace and Ashlee (Harris) and all of us and tried to wear us down,” Moir said. “I thought we played a pretty good first half. We just didn’t come out in the third quarter really well.”

Butler put together a 13-0 run to take a 25-15 lead on Jeffries’ 3-pointer with 4:16 left in the first half, but Sacred Heart scored the final nine points of the half to pull within 25-24 at the break.

Just said his team lost focus and fouled too much, as the Valkyries hit 12 of 14 free throws in the first half.

“We knew we had to pick it up … and come out and jump on them,” Butler senior Teri Goodlett said. “The mood in the locker room was, ‘We have to come on. We have to come on. We have to pick it up.’”

Led by Penn, the Bearettes did just that. Penn scored eight points during a 17-2 run that gave the Bearettes a 42-26 lead at the 2:10 mark of the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the Valkyries hit just 1 of 7 shots in the third quarter. Just said the defensive focus was on Berger and sharpshooter Kiki Samsel, with Goodlett guarding Berger and Bre Torrens on Samsel. Berger finished 3 for 12 from the field, and Samsel was 2 for 7.

“I thought Teri did an outstanding job of that all night, and I know she’s extremely tired right now,” Just said. “She made it tough on Grace to get touches.”

Just also praised the play of senior Janna Lewis, who posted seven points and nine rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

“Without question, Janna was a presence for us,” Just said. “She made some shots around the basket and got some key rebounds. It was only 11 minutes, but it was 11 big minutes. Her strength around the basket is something most people are going to struggle with.”

While it was a disappointing finish for Sacred Heart, there’s plenty of hope for the future as the Valkyries lose just one senior (Danielle Wethington) from this team.

Sacred Heart likely will join Male and Manual as the top teams in the Seventh Region next season.

“I think we’ll remember this feeling and how bad it feels right now and use it as motivation to work even harder next year so we can be prepared for this moment,” Berger said.

Murray 71, Nelson County 30: Macey Turley had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the No. 8 Tigers (27-5) over the Cardinals (30-4).

Maddie Waldrop (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Alexis Burpo (12 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles and helped Murray win the rebounding battle 42-27. The Tigers led 41-11 at halftime, and the mercy-rule running clock began early in the third quarter when Murray took a 46-11 lead.

“You never expect to have a running clock in a state tournament situation, but I think our experience from last year helped us,” said Murray coach Rechelle Turner, whose team lost to Butler in last year’s state semifinals. “We weren’t overwhelmed with the moment.”

Marly Walls had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Nelson County, which shot just 23.4 percent (11 of 47). The Cardinals were playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1990.

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes @courier-journal.com.


BUTLER (33-2) – Bre Torrens 7p; Tasia Jeffries 10p, 7a, 5r; Jaelynn Penn 15p, 6r; Teri Goodlett 6p, 4a; Molly Lockhart 5p, 5r, 3b; Janna Lewis 7p, 9r.

SACRED HEART (29-6) – Ashlee Harris 3p; Kiki Samsel 8p; Kia Sivils 2p; Kristen Clemons 5p; Grace Berger 13p, 10r; Natalie Fichter 5p, 3b.


NELSON COUNTY (30-4) – Shyla Calbert 5p; Marly Walls 16p, 8r; Kira Harman 6p; Le Linton 2p; Loren Seely 1p.

MURRAY (27-5) – Brittany Lawson 2p; Alexandria Mayes 11p; Macey Turley 19p, 6r, 5a; Maddie Waldrop 17p, 12r, 2b; Alexis Burpo 12p, 12r, 3s; Parker Greer 3p; Grace Campbell 7p.

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