Tornado girls top Shaler
SHALER TWP — Dorothea Epps was impressed with the effort.
And you won't catch her turning down the result any time soon.
“We played hard before this game, but this was the first time the girls really went after it,” said Epps. “I'm proud of their effort and am really happy for the girls that they got this win. They came out fired up tonight.”
The Titans managed to keep the game interesting until the final seconds.
Butler's final points came on a pair of free throws from Caitlin Baxter, which gave the Golden Tornado a 28-23 lead with 37 seconds left in the game.
Shaler's Abbey Conrad drove the lane for a 2-point bucket, cutting her team's deficit to just three points with 31 seconds remaining.
Following a missed free throw by Butler's Natalie Barkus, the Titans rebounded and had a chance to tie the game. But Sam Marak stole the ball near midcourt with four seconds left and avoided Titan defenders who were attempting to foul her as time expired.
“Close section games like this prove that every possession counts,” said Shaler coach Neal Martin. “We just made too many mistakes tonight.”
The 25 points are a season-low for Shaler, which was averaging nearly 46 points per contest entering Monday's game.
“We knew that most of Shaler's players are drivers,” said Epps. “We packed things in and forced them to be shooters and I think they struggled against that.”
“Scoring for us is usually done by committee,” said Martin. “We take a look at matchups and go from there.”
But against Butler (6-7, 2-1), no Shaler player found a groove offensively. Conrad, a junior forward, led the Titans with just seven points.
The Tornado, however, received a big first half from senior forward Mackenzie O'Donnell, who scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the first 16 minutes.
O'Donnell's scoring chances diminished greatly in the second half after the Titans began to stick two defenders on her.
“She's a force inside,” said Epps. “When they started to double-team her, she had to make the right decision when she did get the ball and I thought she did well with that.”
Shaler (4-7, 0-4) has dropped its four section games by a combined 20 points.
“We've been close, but close doesn't cut it,” said Martin. “I told the girls that before you win a section game, you have to deserve it first.”
Natalie Barkus 1 0-2 3, Mackenzie O'Donnell 5 4-4 14, Sam Marak 1 2-2 5, Caitlin Baxter 2 2-3 6, Kalynn Callihan 0 0-0 0, Lauren Bresnahan 0 0-0 0, Morgan Pfabe 0 0-0 0, Alyssa DiPippa 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9 8-11 28.
Courtney Bauer 1 0-0 2, Paige Quinn 1 1-2 4, Liz Kline 1 1-4 3, Carly Harris 2 0-4 5, Andi Lydon 1 2-2 4, Abbey Conrad 3 1-2 7. Totals: 9 5-14 25.
Butler 10 7 7 4—28
Shaler4 9 7 5—25
3-point goals: Butler 2 (Barkus, Marak); Shaler 2 (Quinn, Harris)