Same old story: Butler rallies late, beats Central Dauphin in overtime
Saturday, March 7, 2020 | 8:30 PM
The WPIAL boys Class 6A champion refuses to go off script as its Hollywood season continues for at least another show.
Butler trailed throughout Saturday’s game at North Allegheny, but came back strong in the final minute of regulation and defeated Central Dauphin in overtime, 93-90.
Senior Ethan Morton was hobbled by an ankle he rolled in the third quarter and was limited to 13 points.
Sophomore Devin Carney, however, more than picked up the slack with 39 points, including 11 of 14 from the free-throw line.
“This has been the M.O. since the playoffs started for us,” Butler coach Matt Clement said. “I think we built up this mental toughness and this grit, and we’ve just figured things out as we went along. I just give the kids credit. They’re not ready to go home yet.”
The Golden Tornado (21-4) trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter. During the district playoffs, Butler was down late to Peters Township in the quarterfinals and Upper St. Clair in the semifinals, only to rally both times at the end of regulation and win in overtime.
“I think it’s now a mindset that no matter how many times they answer, we’re just going to keep coming at you,” Morton said. “We’re never going to give up until that final buzzer sounds.”
Butler scored the first five points before Central Dauphin (22-7) answered with 10 straight to take a lead it would hold through most of regulation. A Mason Montag 3-pointer midway through overtime put the Golden Tornado up to stay at 82-81.
It was Montag’s third 3-pointer. The second came with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter and trimmed Central Dauphin’s lead to 79-77.
Central Dauphin then broke the Butler pressure defense, but sophomore Raine Gratzmiller drew a charge.
“The No. 1 biggest play of the game,” Clement said.
On the ensuing possession, junior Mattix Clement was fouled on a putback with 4 seconds left and made both free throws to tie the score.
“As a coach, you’re nervous, and as a Dad, you’re 50 times more nervous,” Clement said. “We feel like every game we play, foul-shooting is an advantage of ours. We don’t talk about percentages or anything else, we just feel like it’s an advantage.”
Ryan Smith and Rance Russo turned in strong games for Central Dauphin. Smith finished with 35 points, and Russo scored 30.
“They both played really well offensively,” Central Dauphin coach Wayne Fletcher said. “(Smith) is our guy. When we needed a make, that dude gets a make.”
Central Dauphin help Morton, a Purdue recruit, to three points in the first half. Then after rolling his ankle, Morton became more of a role player as Carney ran the offense.
“Today was nothing about me. Today was about everybody else’s heart,” Morton said. “I’m so proud of our guys. Devin carried the load the whole game.”
The dream storm continues for the Golden Tornado as they advance to the second round to face an Upper St. Clair team they beat in the WPIAL semifinals.
As for Morton playing Wednesday: “I’m going to get treatment on it 24-7, and I’m going to be ready to go no matter what,” he said.
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