The two had differing opinions, but by the end of Friday's game against Hephzibah, neither thought it mattered.
Butler basketball coach Rob Johnson had said the Bulldogs were fortunate to still be alive in the Region 3-AAAA tournament after they squeaked by Greenbrier on Thursday. His leading scorer, Willie Green, scoffed at the notion, saying Butler deserved everything it got.
What mattered to them was that the Bulldogs won their semifinal game against the Rebels, 60-42, and moved into tonight's championship game.
The way second-seeded Butler played in its win against of third-seeded Hephzibah at Glenn Hills, Green might have had a point. There was no question in his mind the Bulldogs earned the right to compete for a No. 1 seed in next week's state playoffs.
"We knew we should have been playing for the championship," said Green, who led both teams with 19 points. "Greenbrier played us good, but we wanted it more. We deserve to be where we're at."
He'll get no arguments from the Rebels (14-12). After Hephzibah's Rent Sherrill hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 34-33 lead with 3:04 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs (23-4) closed the game with a 27-8 run and allowed the Rebels only one field goal in the last 5:30.
Even Hephzibah's 6-foot-9 presence Calvin Roland didn't bother a Butler team whose tallest player is 6-4. The Bulldogs allowed Roland to score only two of his team-leading 14 points in the second half.
"They trapped a lot in the press, and we got a little hesitant about getting the ball to the inside," Hephzibah coach Bob Klofenstine said. "They did a good job of fronting him and playing weakside defense, but we didn't shoot the ball well. When we shoot the ball well, he's easier to get open because they have to guard our shooters. When we don't, they don't have to worry about him that much."
In girls action, Tamara Gilyard recorded a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds), and Joycelyn Nelson had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead second-seeded Hephzibah past sixth-seeded Thomson 67-46.
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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