Nevada Daily Mail
"Butler is a handful. They've got big, physical kids. They've had a lot of success up to this point in the year and they'll have a lot of success from this point on." Nevada Tigers head basketball coach John McNeley couldn't seem to give the opposition enough credit, but at the same time, knew full well just what went wrong as his Tigers suffered their second consecutive defeat and first at home this season against the Butler Bears Monday night.
The Tigers came into the contest hoping to rebound from a disappointing loss at the hands of the Warrensburg Tigers Friday night, at Warrensburg High School. Dakota Jones led four Warrensburg players in double figures with 17 points and led the Tigers to a 51-43 victory over Nevada that night.
After seven ties and 10 lead changes, McNeley's Tigers owned a 27-26 lead at halftime but Warrensburg controlled the second half, outscoring Nevada, 25-16, over the final 16 minutes to win its home opener. Dalton Thompson joined Jones in double-digits with 11 points and Kyle Denker and Corbin Bell scored 10 apiece. Jamin Brandt paced Nevada with 14 points and Silas Smith added 11.
The Tigers hoped to return to Wynn Gymnasium and erase the harsh taste from their mouths left by that defeat, but that was not to be as Butler took advantage of a number of miscues from the Tigers on both ends of the floor in a 45-38 victory.
"It was a game where we let them do what they do best," McNeley said. "They used their physical style of play on both the offensive and the defensive end and took advantage of some things."
The Bears did have a noticeable advantage right from the outset of the contest in terms of size and raw physicality that kept the Tigers off balance right from the start. That advantage allowed the Bears to dictate the pace of the game and create turnovers nearly at will, ultimately allowing head coach Kevin Hill's squad to work its way to a 23-15 lead at halftime.
"We struggled to take care of the basketball, particularly in the first half," McNeley said. "When you turn it over, that throws away opportunities to score and when you're not scoring the basketball at a high rate like we, you know, struggled with tonight, then that makes it even tougher on you."
The Tigers never were able to find much rhythm on either side of the ball and ultimately finished with a total of 19 turnovers in the contest. It wasn't all bad for McNeley's squad, however, as the Tigers were ultimately able to mount a little bit of a comeback in the fourth quarter that got the Tigers back into the contest from what had been a 20-point hole.
Easton Mitchell and the large crowd of Nevada fans in attendance led that comeback, but the hole the Tigers were trying to dig out of ultimately proved to be just too deep.
"Easton Mitchell did what Easton Mitchell can do," McNeley said. "I mean, he's got the ability to shoot the basketball from the 3-point line."
Mitchell ultimately finished the game with six points and the Tigers fell by a final score of 45-38. Silas Smith led the offensive effort for the Tigers with 18 points, followed by Jamin Brandt with 12.
For Butler, Trey Mareth led the offensive effort with 14 points and was followed by Trenton Crow with 11.
McNeley said he was impressed with one thing from his squad on the night and that was the fact that they continued to "play hard" as they always do, regardless of circumstances. "I don't know if that's a positive that you take from it because that's your expectation for your kids on a nightly basis," he said. "But they battled back and did so with the guy that we typically look to offensively on the bench."
The Tigers' freshman and junior varsity squads were in action on the night as well and came out of their contests with much more positive results. In the freshman game, head coach Kyle Talley's squad came back from a 12-point halftime deficit and scored the last 10 points to defeat Butler by a final score of 42-38.
In the JV game, the Tigers earned their second victory of the night, defeating Butler by a final score of 35-23 in a game in which they never led before the final two minutes of the third quarter.
With the loss, McNeley's varsity squad fell to 2-4 on the year and is scheduled to head back out on the road on Thursday to take on Clinton High School. The first game of that varsity/JV doubleheader is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m.