Familiar foe awaits Butler girls basketball team

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Butler girls basketball coach Keisha Stewart is looking for a complete game.

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Head coach Keisha Stewart (center) instructs the team during practice. The Lady Bulldogs will take on Washington County for the fourth time this season on Saturday night. The top-ranked Lady Golden Hawks have come out on top in all three meetings.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Head coach Keisha Stewart (center) instructs the team during practice. The Lady Bulldogs will take on Washington County for the fourth time this season on Saturday night. The top-ranked Lady Golden Hawks have come out on top in all three meetings.

TEAM PAGE: Butler Bulldogs

In three contests against Washington County this season, the Lady Bulldogs have played well early, only to see huge Lady Hawks runs spoil their efforts.

Butler gets another opportunity against undefeated Washington County -- senior T'Ana Andrews said the fourth time's a charm -- this time in a Class AAA state quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Columbus State.

"I just think we need to play 32 minutes of Butler basketball," Stewart said. "If we do that, I really believe in my heart that we can win."

It already has been an impressive playoff showing for the Lady Bulldogs (16-14), who have made their deepest run in the state tournament since 1978, Stewart said.

But the coach said she doesn't want her team to settle now, only two victories away from playing for the state title.

If it plans on getting to the next round, Butler will have to avoid the turnover bug.

In two meetings with Washington County, the Lady Bulldogs trailed by no more than six points after one quarter.

However, the Lady Hawks (29-0) turned close contests into routs behind defensive pressure, scoring a combined 55 points in two second quarters.

Butler's Ashley Watts, a 2,000-point scorer during her career, knows the press break is going to be important Saturday. The guard makes up half of the Lady Bulldogs' strong 1-2 scoring tandem.

Stewart said she always knew Crystal Berksteiner could be the scorer to complement Watts, and Berksteiner has done exactly that, totaling 26 points in the two playoff wins. The duo also form one-third of the senior class; Andrews, Daishell Lambert, Erika Mountain and Tia Stanley are the other four.

Stewart said Lambert will bring her consistent defensive presence and the rest of the group will continue to provide leadership.

When it comes to the press break, Butler needs to slow down Allisha Gray, the Golden Hawks' leading scorer. The sophomore posted 16 points in one quarter during Washington County's region tournament win against the Lady Bulldogs. Stewart described Gray as a player who doesn't just try to tip the ball to get it; she grabs it.

Butler, which lost in the first round of the state tournament in 2008-09 before winning a playoff game last season, has continued to grow. Stewart even said the senior class already has made its mark.

If it is to add to its list of accomplishments, Butler must hold onto the ball.

"If we break the press, it's fair game," Stewart said.


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