Butler girls snap three-game losing streak
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP - Butler junior guard Ashley Nocera didn't quite know her role before.
She knows it now.
Taking over for the injured Kelly Miller at point guard, Nocera drained three of four free throws in the final 46 seconds to help the Golden Tornado girls basketball team hold off Fox Chapel, 48-44, Friday night.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Butler (10-10, 4-6) and keeps the Tornado within sight of a Section 3-AAAA playoff berth.
"That's still a goal," Butler coach Dorothea Epps said. "Step one was tonight. We can take another big step Monday night at Shaler."
Nocera took a big step Friday in helping Epps restructure her lineup, which recently lost returning starters Miller and Samantha Karns to season-ending knee injuries.
"Once we learned we lost Kelly, we had to adjust a lot of things," Epps said. "But this shuffling definitely helped Ashley.
"She really didn't know her role before. She wasn't sure what we expected her to do out there. Now she's the point guard, she knows we need her, and she's responding."
Butler fell behind 5-0 before scoring the game's next 10 points. The Tornado never trailed again, but Fox Chapel (8-10, 5-5) pulled even at 27 with an Erin Cooper layup with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
Sophomore center Amy Achesinski, who led Butler with 20 points and nine rebounds, re-established the Tornado lead by scoring the game's next seven points on two layups and a three-point play.
"We didn't stop their guard penetration," Fox Chapel coach Jeremy Bennett said. "Our post defenders had to step up and help, and that left their big girl open on the blocks."
"Everybody forgets she's only a sophomore and it's strange to say it, but she's our leader on the court now," Epps said.
The Tornado had an eight-point lead with 4:57 left in the game before the Foxes got back into it. Two free throws by Lauren Cowher cut the gap to 44-40 with 57 seconds left.
Nocera sank two free throws with 46 seconds left, but a Cooper layup and two free throws by Cowher sliced the margin to 46-44 with 22 seconds on the clock.
Nocera made another free throw with 19 seconds left, but missed her second shot. Cowher traveled before she got off an errant 3-point shot with 10 seconds left.
Butler sophomore guard Maria Baroffio was fouled immediately and made the second of two free throws to seal the victory.
Nocera had 10 points while Liz Schultz contributed six of the Tornado's 30 rebounds. Butler had a 30-22 edge on the boards.
Cowher led Fox Chapel with 14 points, but sank just four of 16 shots. Catlyn Kriston added 11 points and Cooper 10. Cooper had seven rebounds.
Butler's junior varsity improved to 16-3 with a 39-22 triumph.
FOX CHAPEL 44
Carrie DeStout 3-5 0-0 7, Katie Sheerer 0-2 0-0 0, Erin Cooper 5-8 0-1 10, Lauren Cowher 4-16 4-4 14, Catlyn Kriston 4-8 0-0 11, Caroline Heffernan 0-0 0-0 0, Bethany Thompson 0-6 2-4 2, Abydee Butler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-45 6-9 44
Rachel Barry 2-5 2-2 6, Liz Schultz 2-3 0-0 4, Ashley Nocera 3-6 3-4 10, Kelley Crater 0-3 0-0 0, Amy Achesinski 9-15 2-3 20, Maria Baroffio 2-3 4-7 8, Julie Ehrman 0-1 0-0 0, Michelle Ritchey 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 18-38 11-16 48
3-point goals: DeStout, Cowher 2, Kriston 3; Nocera
JV: Butler, 39-22 (B-Emily Nocera 11)