Butler’s Ethan Morton scores school-record 51 in section loss to Pine-Richland

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 | 10:24 PM

Pine-Richland didn’t throw any junk defenses at Butler superstar Ethan Morton.

No box-and-one. No constant double teams. Morton might score more than 40 points himself, Pine-Richland coach Jeff Ackermann decided, but the Rams defense would focus instead on silencing Morton’s teammates.

“We wanted to see if he could outscore us,” Ackermann said, “and he almost did.”

Morton scored a school-record 51 points before host Pine-Richland squeaked out a 79-74 victory Tuesday night over section rival Butler, which couldn’t have asked much more from its star junior.

The 6-foot-5 guard made 20 of 32 shots and converted 11 of 13 free throws against mostly man-to-man defense. The record-setting night surpassed his 48-point performance from earlier this season.

“We wanted to really lock down on the other guys,” Ackermann said, “keep Ethan in front of us the best we could and try to make him hit tough shots.”

The win puts third-ranked Pine-Richland (10-2, 3-0) alone in first place in Section 1-6A. Butler (9-3, 2-1) hosts the rematch Jan. 29.

Dan Petcash led Pine-Richland with 28 points, Colin Luellen scored 18 and Greg Shulkosky added 17. Clinging to a two-point lead late in the fourth, a layup by Shulkosky with just under a minute left and four consecutive free throws by Petcash clinched the win.

“Ethan played probably his best game — 51 — and we still took them down,” Petcash said. “That’s a confidence booster.”

Only one other Butler scorer reached double figures – Devin Carney had 10 points – as Morton shouldered Butler’s offense and nearly left with a win. Morton scored 16 points in the first quarter, 11 in the second, 12 in the third and 12 more in the fourth.

The teams were tied early in the fourth quarter, and Pine-Richland’s lead was only two points with 1 minute left.

“We took what they were giving us,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “We took advantage of Ethan’s one-on-one matchups, which we’ll take all day long. How could you not? They face-guarded Mattix (Clement) and they stayed with Devin.

“Unfortunately, the last 4 minutes made that (defensive) game plan turn out to be all right,” Clement added.

With 4 minutes left, Butler’s Isaiah Scribner blocked Petcash at one end and Carney sank a 3-pointer at the other, cutting Pine-Richland’s lead to 69-68. But Butler’s rally stalled there when Luellen scored on a driving layup, drew a foul and made the free throw.

A steal and breakaway layup by Morton cut Pine-Richland’s lead to 72-70 with 2:47 left. Pine-Richland then stalled, spread the floor and ran almost 2 minutes off the clock. Shulkosky’s layup with 52 seconds left pushed the lead back to four.

“We missed some stops and had some mental errors that hurt us at the end of the game more than the balance of our scoring, in my opinion,” Clement said.

Another driving layup by Morton with 39 seconds left had Butler back within two. But with Butler forced to foul, Petcash made two free throws with 25 seconds left and two more at the 10-second mark to clinch the win.

Pine-Richland led 57-55 after three and never trailed in the fourth.

Butler had led 25-18 after the first quarter and 40-39 at half. Morton scored Butler’s first 10 points and pushed his team to an early 18-6 lead.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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