WICHITA, Kan. – The Butler men survived a scrappy Seward County team, outlasting the Saints 87-77 in overtime to advance to the semifinals of the Region VI Tournament being played at Koch Arena.
No. 7 Butler (29-2) will face No. 23 Hutchinson in Friday's semifinal round at 7 p.m. Hutchinson defeated No. 19 Coffeyville 94-88 in overtime.
To advance, Butler had to overcome a second half in which it trailed most of the period and by as many as seven points.
The Grizzlies had overcome a slow start to the game, going on a 17-5 run to take a 24-13 lead with 10:41 left in the first half after two straight buckets by Lamar Wofford.
Seward began chipping away at Butler's lead and then went on an 11-1 run to take a 32-31 lead with 3:51 left in the first period. The Grizzles would briefly regain the lead late in the half on a 3-pointer by Caelan Neal and the two teams were tied 38-38 at halftime.
Seward took control in the second half, leading by as much as seven points after back-to-back 3-pointers made it a 55-48 game with 14 minutes to go. Butler never regained the lead in regulation, but was able to tie the game four times in the final 2:34.
The latest was on a pair of free throws by Chris Howell with 6.2 seconds left, tying the game 71-71. Seward would get a shot at the buzzer but could not make it, sending the game to overtime.
Butler trailed twice in the overtime and the game was tied 75-75 with 3:27 to play before the Grizzlies outscored Seward 12-2 the remainder of the contest. The big shot was a 3-pointer by Travis House that put Butler in front 79-75 with 2:26 to go.
Chris Howell led Butler with 24 points and had a double-double with a team-high 14 rebounds. It is his fourth double-double of the season and his second straight after having 21 points and 14 rebounds in the final game of the regular season against Dodge City.
Lamar Wofford had 17 points and eight rebounds for Butler, while Jacolby Harris had 10 points. Robert Joiner added nine. Kevin Sims, who had 33 points against Butler 10 days ago in a regular-season game in Liberal, led Seward again, this time with 21. He was one of five Saints to score in double figures.
Butler shot 44 percent from the floor (31-of-70) and had a big edge over Seward in rebounding, 57-29 including 24 offensive boards.
The 29 wins tie the most in a season under head coach Mike Bargen, who led the 2009-2010 Grizzlies to a 29-7 record while winning the Region VI championship. The win also matches the fourth-most wins in a season in Butler's history. Along with the 2009-10 season, Butler reached 29 wins during the 1989-90 and 1996-97 seasons.