JACKSON TWP — Mackenzie O'Donnell gave Butler the lead. The Golden Tornado guards kept it.
O'Donnell scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the first half and Butler played keep away in the second half in posting a 44-30 Section 3-AAAA girls basketball victory Monday night at Seneca Valley.
The Tornado (8-7, 4-1) won their fourth straight game despite scoring just one field goal in the second half. Butler attempted only three shots in the final 32 minutes, none in the fourth quarter.
“We decided to take the air out of the ball a little bit in the second half and the girls played it very well,” Butler coach Dororthea Epps said. “Of course, you can't do that without a fairly big lead.
“Our guards can handle it and Mac is a good passer down on the blocks. She can dish it back out.”
Butler led 31-19 at the half, largely because of the 6-foot senior center O'Donnell's production inside.
“I think she's the best player in our section,” Seneca Valley coach Rob Lombardo said. “She's so strong that when she gets the ball down low, she either scores a layup or gets fouled.
“Two of our forwards picked up two fouls early trying to defend her and we had to divert from our game plan. (O'Donnell) is a game-changer. The score of this game was 12-12 at one point.”
The Raiders (6-5, 3-3) played without junior guard Katie Brown, who was sidelined with an ankle injury. SV had two freshmen and a sophomore in its starting lineup.
“Butler started four seniors, we have one senior on our roster,” Lombardo said. “They were going to have the advantage in physicality and they used it.”
The Raiders struggled to get open shots much of the night, hitting just 8 of 24 field goal attempts. SV took only nine shots in the first half while turning the ball over 11 times.
Seneca Valley did not sink a field goal in the second quarter and made only 3 of 15 shots in the second half.
“I'm very pleased with the way we played tonight,” Epps said. “Everybody did her job very well.
“We were able to run clock and protect the lead. Our goal was seven turnovers tonight. We didn't do that, but we did a lot of other things right.”
Seneca Valley had 17 turnovers to Butler's 13. Sam Marak had four steals for the Tornado, Alyssa DiPippa three, Caitlin Baxter and Kalynn Callihan two each.
“It's so much fun playing that style,” Marak said. “We work hard on it in practice. Every one of our practices is hard.
“To be able to beat a team this well on the road feels great for us, especially the seniors. We've struggled the past couple of years.”
O'Donnell contributed five rebounds for Butler.
Meghan Hess paced the Raiders with eight points. Freshman Paige Montrose had five rebounds and three steals.
Seneca Valley never cut its 12-point halftime deficit to single digits. Butler sank 20 of 23 free throws.
“With that big lead, we made them come out and get us,” Epps said. “Of course, we had to hit make our free throws and we did.”
Lombardo pointed out that all three of his team's section losses thus far are to the top-three teams in the section standings.
“We haven't overachieved yet, that's all,” he said. “It does hurt to give up a section loss at home. We didn't hold serve that way. Now we have to go out and get somebody on the road.”
Alyssa DiPippa 1-1 2-2 4, Natalie Barkus 0-0 4-4 4, Mackenzie O'Donnell 5-9 10-11 20, Sam Marak 1-3 1-3 3, Morgan Pfabe 2-5 1-1 5, Lauren Bresnahan 0-0 0-0 0, Caitlin Baxter 0-1 2-2 2, Kalynn Callihan 2-3 0-0 6. Totals: 11-22 20-23 44.
SENECA VALLEY 30
Kaitlyn Eagle 0-2 0-0 0, Jane Vandrak 0-0 0-0, 0, Meghan Hess 2-3 2-2 8, Alexis Roccia 0-1 0-0 0, Hannah Parey 0-3 1-2 1, Paige Montrose 1-4 3-4 5, Abbie Trzeciak 2-5 0-0 4, Lexus Lambert 1-1 1-2 3, Melissa Carter 1-1 0-0 2, Alexa Sisko 1-4 5-7 7. Totals: 8-24 12-16 30.
Butler 16 15 6 7—44
Seneca Valley12 7 3 8—30
3-point goals: Callihan 2; Hess 2
JV: Butler, 34-28 (B: Noel Pfabe 10, Alyssa DiPippa 9; SV: Jane Vandrak 9
Thursday: Butler at Oakland Catholic, North Allegheny at Seneca Valley