The Butler Bearettes narrowly defeated the Lady Crimsons on Friday, Jan. 20 by a score of 72-71 in a game that took three overtimes to complete.
Manual came into the game ranked as the #4 team in the state of Kentucky and the Bearettes sat atop the Litkenhous rankings at #1. Butler had previously beaten Manual by 12 points over the holiday break. The matchup had all of the makings for an instant classic.
Both teams struggled offensively early in the game, combining for just 23 points in the first quarter. The pace picked up as the game progressed, allowing for more shots and more points. Manual got huge contributions from both Nila Blackford (#41, 10) and Jaela Johnson (#3, 11). Blackford made her presence felt throughout the game by grabbing several offensive rebounds and laying them back in for easy buckets.
“[Blackford] was huge tonight,” Coach Jeff Sparks said. “She did a great job around the basket; she stepped up big for us.”
The hot shooting of Johnson provided offensive sparks for the Crimsons when they needed them most.
Butler held a one-point lead over Manual at halftime, but it did not last long, as Tonysha Curry (#23, 12) drained a three pointer on the first possession of the third quarter. Curry followed with another three pointer on the very next possession.
The Crimsons controlled the game for the majority of the second half. However, Butler made a fierce comeback with just seconds remaining, taking a 43-41 lead. With the clock winding down, Curry grabbed a rebound from Tyonne Howard’s (#12, 11) missed floater and sank a layup to force the game to go into overtime.
In overtime Manual jumped out to a quick lead but the Bearettes battled back, sinking two free throws with :11.2 remaining in the first overtime period. Curry, the leader of the team, fouled a few minutes into the period and had to sit out the rest of the game. “It definitely hurts us; she’s a great player. So to not have her for a couple of those overtimes takes a lot of things off the table for us.” said Coach Sparks. Manual forced a turnover on the ensuing Butler possession but could not get a shot off to try and win the game.
In the second overtime, Blackford continued to show toughness and fortitude by scoring six points and grabbing a few rebounds. The Crimsons clung to a 63-60 lead with :04.9 left in the period. Butler managed to drain a deep three pointer to tie the game and force yet another overtime period.
Butler took control in the third overtime, withstanding many fierce attempts by Manual to retake the lead. The Crimsons ultimately fell to the Bearettes, the #1 team in the state.
The Crimsons move on to play Mercer County, the #3 team in the state, on January 21. The game will be at Mercy Academy at 2:45 PM.