HEPHZIBAH — Committing turnovers and fouls prevented Hephzibah from putting together a second comeback bid.
The Butler boys basketball team regrouped and ended strongly, beating the Rebels, 56-46, Tuesday night.
“Our focus now is closing out,” Bulldogs coach Cervantes Boddy said. “The most important quarter is the last quarter.”
Butler led 26-12 in the second quarter only to see Hephzibah tied the game at 35 late in the third.
But using a strong inside presence, Butler (13-9, 5-3 Region 3B-AAA) regained control. Ronald Jones scoring inside easily four times in the fourth quarter. Jones had 18 points, including a slam to put the Bulldogs ahead 48-41.
Dan Lambert chipped in with 16 points for Butler.
The strong finish for Butler came after the Rebels (7-10, 1-7) stormed back behind Levonte Reddick. The guard had two steals lead to layups during the rally, and Lavorius Beasley was solid around the basket.
Fouls and untimely turnovers mounted for Hephzibah in the second half, allowing Butler to win for the third time in four games.
“You battle, you battle and you battle, but turnovers tonight hurt us big time,” Hephzibah coach Bob Klofenstine said.
In the girls game, the Lady Rebels used a late push to win 42-38.
Trailing for most of the game –Hephzibah didn’t get its first lead until a little more than 90 seconds remained in the third quarter – the Lady Rebels (12-6, 5-3) used a 10-2 run to close it out after often failing to convert inside chances in the first half.
Shanice Williams was huge on the defensive end, getting a block and also adding a three-point play during the run that put the game away.
Rachel Armenta also had a clutch defensive play in the waning moments, using a steal to burn the clock as Butler attempted a comeback.
Butler, led by Walnatia Wright’s 11 points, had a lead early in the fourth quarter as Jewel Sturgis’ field goal in transition gave the Lady Bulldogs a 36-32 edge.
Only then did turnovers and missed shots help Hephzibah (12-6, 5-3).
“If we can make layups we’ll be all right,” Lady Rebels coach Wendell Lofton said. “But they fought hard.”