INDIAN TRAIL – Butler shut down Porter Ridge scoring machine Cameron Stitt when it mattered most in a showdown between unbeaten Class 4A high school basketball teams on Dec. 18.
Stitt entered the game averaging 21 points, but Butler held the 6-foot-8 senior to just four the first 24 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs used a 14-4 run that started late in the first half and extended into the second half to defeat the Pirates 77-66 in a Southwestern 4A Conference game.
Butler (6-0) moves to 2-0 in the conference heading into a pair of tournaments over the Christmas break. The Bulldogs return to league play on Jan. 4 at home against Myers Park, which also enters the break with a 2-0 league mark. On Jan. 8, Butler faces rival Independence.
“I thought we did a really good job on Stitt because he is such a good player,” said Butler coach Myron Lowery. “We haven’t started the prettiest way possible, but we can take a deep breath going into these tournaments. These tournaments are going to be a challenge for us. We have a lot of work to do to get better.”
The loss was the first for Porter Ridge and first-year coach Garrett Malone. Porter Ridge was just 10-14 last season and Stitt is the only returning starter but the Pirates have been impressive early in the season.
Raquan Brown scored a career-high 33 points for Butler and the senior scored 12 points in the third period as the Bulldogs took a 54-36 lead to the final eight minutes of play. Rajuan Connor added 15 points for the Bulldogs while Jordan McPhatter scored 14 points.
Porter Ridge took a 24-21 lead on a layup by Grayson McCall with 3 minutes, four seconds remaining in the first half. But Connor scored four points, including a slam dunk, and McPhatter added a 3-pointer as Butler closed out the first half with a 9-2 run for a 30-26 lead at halftime.
Brown then hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third period and McPhatter added another three as the Bulldogs pulled away for an 18-point lead going to the fourth period. Butler scored 10-unanswered points in under two minutes in the third for the commanding lead.
“We finally started executing our plays,” Lowery said of the Bulldogs’ run. “We were trying to run, but the transition wasn’t there. We finally realized that and we started pulling back, executing plays and getting the ball where we wanted and to who we wanted. In the third quarter, we jumped on them and grabbed the momentum. Raquan was in a little foul trouble but that is when he came back and really turned it on.”
Butler finished with six 3-pointers in the game and they hit five during their run that gave them an 18-point cushion.
“They were momentum for us and it sucked a little air out of Porter Ridge,” Lowery said. “We also finally got some stops which our defense turned into some transition baskets, especially for Raquan.”
Stitt finished the game with 20 points after a 16-point performance the final eight minutes. Isaiah Williams added 14 points for the Pirates while Marcus Willis finished with 12 points.