Butler’s O’Donnell true performer in post


BUTLER TWP — Averaging a double-double is never easy in basketball. 

Butler senior forward Mackenzie O’Donnell earned every piece of hers this season.
Playing in Section 3-AAAA, where four teams allowed 40 or fewer points per game and nobody allowed more than 46 per contest, O’Donnell averaged 12.4 points and 10 rebounds per game. 
The Golden Tornado averaged 38.5 points per outing, meaning O’Donnell scored nearly a third of her team’s points. 
Such numbers earn her the selection of Butler Eagle Girls Basketball Player of the Year by unanimous vote of the sports staff. 
Also considered were Mars center Ali Goetz and A-C Valley forward Kelsey Boocks. 

“Mac deserves that,” Butler coach Dorothea Epps said of the Player of the Year honor. “She knew she was going to get beat up every night and she fought through it. 

“Defenders were holding her shirt, hitting her in the stomach and head ... anything they could do to stop her.” 
But few could, 
“She was the best player in our section if you ask me,” Seneca Valley coach Rob Lombardo said during the season. “Get the ball inside to her and she was unstoppable. She either lays it in or you foul her.” 

O’Donnell sank nearly 80 percent of her free throws during her senior season. 
While O’Donnell admitted to feeling like she didn’t get the benefit of the officiating at times, it never deterred her efforts to get to the basket. 
“Post up and take what comes,” she said. “I would never use a ref’s call or non-call as an excuse. Figure out what they’re calling and figure out a way to work around it. 
“I worked hard to get open and my teammates worked hard to get me the ball. Once I have it down low, it’s up to me to finish the play.” 
O’Donnell finished key plays often. 
“She made some big buckets for us,” Epps said. “Mac quickly became our go-to girl offensively. We didn’t have a lot of scoring besides her. 
“The big thing is she stayed on the floor for us. Last year, Mackenzie got in foul trouble from time to time and had to sit. We struggled to score without her and opponents knew that. They’d try to get her to foul out, but there were only two games all year where she was even in foul trouble.” 
The result was a return to the WPIAL playoffs for Butler after a two-year absence. The Tornado finished 13-10 overall, second in their section with a 9-3 mark. 

O’Donnell was a freshman on Butler’s last playoff team and said she badly wanted to help her team return to postseason play. 
“(Assistant coach) Paul Epps helped me a lot during the summer,” O’Donnell said. “I wanted to get better. He worked with me one-on-one quite a bit. When I wanted to work on something, I’d call him up and he’d make time for me.” 
Grabbing a key rebound was as important to O’Donnell as scoring a key bucket. 
“I was more proud of my rebounding,” she said. “Limiting the opposition to one shot was important for us and getting an offensive board meant the opportunity for a put-back.” 
O’Donnell has received offers to play basketball at St. Vincent College, LaRoche, Slippery Rock University and Washington & Jefferson. She is leaning toward LaRoche, where former Butler teammate Casie Cygan went over 1,000 career points this season. 
O’Donnell plans to pursue a career in nursing. 
“LaRoche has a great program for that and I’ve talked to Casie about the basketball program there,” O’Donnell said. “She believes I can be productive there. It would definitely be fun to become teammates with her again.”