TROTWOOD —John Schmidt and his high school girls basketball staff treated his Vandalia Butler players to pizza Saturday night. Supreme would have been a good choice.
Butler topped off the regular season with its second straight league title, an impressive 62-34 win over Trotwood-Madison in the Greater Western Ohio Conference. The Aviators used a little bit of everything — man defense, full-court pressure, clutch shooting and a fast start — to win the North Division title outright. The Aviators and Rams shared the title last season.
“I had more butterflies today than I have all year,” Schmidt said of the GWOC showdown. “It felt pretty good to look up (at the scoreboard) after that first quarter. But I knew (Trotwood) wouldn’t quit.”
Butler never trailed, especially after sprinting to a 15-2 lead after the first quarter. Brittany Holland opened the game with a 3-pointer, and teammates Jaime Hulsmeyer and Kacie Cassell extended it to 7-0. Trotwood, meanwhile, had six turnovers and missed its first three shots in the game’s first four minutes.
“We never did recover from that,” Trotwood coach Johnny Vance said. “But you have to give hats off to Butler. They came here to defend the championship we shared last year. They wanted it more than we did. It’s that simple.”
Butler led 31-10 at halftime. They forced 16 Trotwood turnovers in the first half as the lead reached 24 points (29-5) on Lauren Cassell’s 3-pointer with 2:15 left in the second quarter.
Trotwood (12-7 overall, 8-2 GWOC North) struggled with Butler’s quickness and aggressive defense. The Aviators (16-4, 10-0) picked up the Rams’ ball handlers in the backcourt and constantly harassed them into bad passes or rushed shots.
“We pushed the ball,” Kacie Cassell said of Butler’s high-energy attack. “We made Trotwood run more than they thought they would, I think.”
With a defense allowing 33 points per game and able to unleash that kind of pressure, it certainly has to have a clever nickname. So what does Schmidt call it?
“Butler,” Schmidt said matter of factly. “It’s just the way we play defense. We do it every day in practice like that. I don’t want to say we demand it, but we expect it.”
Trotwood might have expected it, too. The Rams’ other league loss came to the Aviators, 48-26, back on Jan. 5. Butler had added motivation for Saturday’s win. Last season the Aviators had a chance to win the GWOC title outright, but fell to Trotwood in the season finale. That wasn’t an option this time.
“We were coming in thinking we’re winning this one,” said Lauren Cassell, Butler’s lone senior. “We’re getting it straight out this year. We were going to do anything we had to to pull this one out.”
Kacie Cassell led Butler with a game-high 17 points. Holland added 13 as the Aviators’ led by as many as 32 points (55-23) midway through the fourth quarter. Hannah Tyson paced Trotwood with nine points.
Unofficially, the Aviators shot 21-of-46 (45 percent) from the field. Trotwood finished just 11-of-37 (29 percent). The Rams also finished with 27 turnovers.
“That’s all the girls kept talking about last week,” Vance said, “playing Butler and seeing if they can a piece of the championship. It just didn’t fall that way today. When you turn the ball over against a good shooting team and a good ball-handling team, they’re gonna kill you. Like I said, congratulations to Butler and coach Schmidt. We’ll regroup and get ready for the tournament.”
Trotwood, a No. 9 seed, opens the tournament against Fairborn on Saturday. The Rams enter losing six of their last nine games, though all have been quality opponents.
Butler, a No. 7 seed, plays Stebbins on Thursday. The Aviators have won 10 straight.
“It’s (the girls). I just sit on the sidelines and scream because I’m excited,” Schmidt said. “They do the work during the week so we can have success on the weekends. I can’t be more proud of them. It’s a new season now. It the toughest season coming up now, but we’re up for the challenge. We have a bunch of great girls.”
In addition to the varsity league title, the reserve team was also treated to pizza. They avenged an earlier loss with Trotwood to tie for the GWOC title at 19-1.