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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Too tall a task

Butler boys succumb to unbeaten North Hills, 76-62

ROSS TWP — Beating North Hills doesn’t mean shutting down one or two star players, it requires containing an entire lineup.

No team has been successful in doing so this season.

In its third attempt, Butler’s boys basketball team came up short against the Indians, dropping a 76-62 Section 1-6A decision at North Hills Middle School Friday night.

The win has the Indians (15-0, 9-0) one victory away from clinching the section title outright. Pine-Richland is the only other team that can still claim a share of the crown.

The Golden Tornado were done in by North Hills’ balanced scoring in the first two meetings — 82-62 in December and 84-48 earlier this month.

Friday’s game proved to be another frustrating sequel for Butler.

Sophomore Royce Parham scored 23 points for North Hills, but was supported by teammates Bill Blass (14 points), Alex Smith (13), Matt Seidl (13) and Devin Burgess (10).

“We knew we had to limit their points in transition and I thought we did that,” said Butler coach Matt Clement, “but I have to give (credit) to Blass. He really hurt us in the first half.”

The Indians led 20-15 after one quarter, but Blass drained four treys in the second period and the lead swelled to 43-28 by halftime. The Tornado never cut their deficit to less than 10 points the rest of the night.

“When a team is undefeated and rolling, things tend to go their way,” said Clement. “A kid comes off the bench and hits a 3 or they find a way to get a big rebound or a loose ball. We’ve been on that side of it before.”

Butler senior guard Devin Carney scored 36 points, including 21 of the Tornado’s 28 points in the first half.

“He’s done it so many times to us before,” said North Hills coach Buzz Gabos. “I thought we guarded him pretty well tonight and he had to take a lot of tough shots. It was an outstanding effort.”

The Indians aren’t a deep team. Forward Logan Johnson is the lone regular off the bench, but Gabos has received consistent efforts from his starting five.

“Our balance is a strength and it’s been key for us,” said Gabos, whose team was the 13th seed in last year’s playoffs, which included a first-round loss to Penn-Trafford. “We were shut down (due to COVID) four different times last year. We got to the playoffs and just weren’t in shape.

“The guys put in a ton of work in the offseason and we felt we’d have a pretty good team.”

Whether or not Butler (9-7, 3-6) reaches the WPIAL playoffs will come down to how the team fares in its final three section games against Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland and North Allegheny.

Despite Friday’s loss, Clement feels good about his team’s latest effort.

“I could be standing here talking about our lazy play and how we stopped fighting, but we didn’t,” he said. “Things didn’t go our way, but I see a hunger in our kids.

“We still control what happens to us. It’s a tough section and you can’t get too high or too low.”


Raine Gratzmiller 2 2-2 7, Devin Carney 11 9-12 36, Madden Clement 2 0-2 6, Colin Patterson 1 0-0 3, Charlie Kreinbucher 1 1-2 3, Kaleb Proudfoot 1 0-0 2, Hayden Thompson 1 0-0 2, CJ Singleton 1 0-0 3, Ryan Porch 0 0-0 0, Lance Slater 0 0-0 0, Ayden Davis 0 0-0 0, Colin Casteel 0 0-0 0, Mac Schnur 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 12-18 62.


Alex Smith 6 1-3 13, Bill Blass 4 2-3 14, Matt Seidl 4 3-4 13, Devin Burgess 4 2-2 10, Logan Johnson 1 0-0 3, Royce Parham 9 5-5 23. Totals: 28 13-17 76.

Butler 15 13 15 19 - 62

North Hills 20 23 16 17 - 76

3-point goals: Butler 10 (Carney 5, Clement 2, Gratzmiller, Patterson, Singleton); North Hills 7 (Blass 4, Seidl 2, Johnson).

Tuesday: Seneca Valley at Butler