The Butler women will take on the Hutchinson Blue Dragons in the Region VI Semifinals on Monday at Hartman Arena in a battle of the top two defensive teams in the Jayhawk Conference.
The winner advances to the Region VI championship game, which will be held on Wednesday at Hartman.
Hutchinson ranks first in scoring defense, allowing just 52 points a game. Butler is second at 53.8 points per game.
Butler (26-4) is the Jayhawk East Conference champion and earned a first-round bye in the Region VI playoffs. The Grizzlies advanced to the semifinals with a 49-40 win over Pratt. Using a dominating defensive performance and a big game from sophomore forward Kyla Callins, Butler overcame a seven-point deficit in the second half.
Butler led 28-18 at the half, and was up 30-22 in the third quarter before the Grizzlies went more than four minutes without scoring. Pratt took advantage and went on a 15-0 run to take a 37-30 lead with 3:58 to play in the third.
The Grizzlies went on an 8-2 run to close the quarter, but still trailed 39-38 going to the fourth. That's when the Butler defense took over. Pratt scored just one point in the fourth quarter, and that was on a free throw with 1:54 to play.
It is the second time this season that Butler has allowed an opponent just a single point in a quarter of play. The first time was in the third quarter against Tabor JV on Nov. 5.
Callins led Butler with 21 points and 11 rebounds. It is her highest scoring output this season and second highest in her career. Her career high is 29 points scored against Coffeyville on Jan. 6, 2018.
Hutchinson (30-2) finished second in the Jayhawk West. Their only two losses of the season came to Jayhawk West champion Seward County. The Blue Dragons defeated beat Allen County 89-40 in the first round of the playoffs and then defeated Independence 74-62 on Saturday in the quarterfinal round.
Independence led for the first four minutes of the game by as many as four points, but Hutchinson led 20-9 after one quarter. Independence cut into the deficit, but the Blue Dragons still led 32-26 at halftime. Independence would get within two points late in the third quarter, but were down by 10 going to the fourth quarter.
Dejanae Roebuck and Makayla Vannett scored 17 points apiece to lead Hutchinson. Roebuck leads Hutchinson in scoring at 15.6 points per game for the season. Jada Mickens averages 11.1 and Vannett averages 11.0
Mike Helmer (247-104) is the winningest coach in program history, now in his 11th season at Butler. He won back-to-back conference titles in 2015 and 2016 and added a third conference title this season. In 2014, he led Butler to an Elite 8 finish in the Grizzlies' first-ever trip to the NJCAA National Tournament. Before Butler, Helmer was the head coach at Wichita South.
John Ontjes is in his 11th season at Hutchinson, where he is 344-71 overall. Under Ontjes, Hutchinson has won 30 or more games in a season for the seventh time in program history. They have won six Jayhawk West titles, six Region VI championships and made six trips to the NJCAA Tournament, including three trips to the national title game, where the Blue Dragons finished as national-runner up each time. Previously, Ontjes was the girls head coach at Hutchinson High School. Ontjes played at Hutchinson and Oklahoma.
Hutchinson defeated Butler 77-61 in the only meeting between the teams this season. Butler was ranked sixth at the time and Hutchinson was No. 8 when the teams played at Hutchinson's Sports Arena on Dec. 8. Hutchinson led early, but the Grizzlies battled back to tie the game 18-18 after one quarter. Butler had its biggest lead at 27-23 early in the second quarter, but 40-35 at halftime and would not trail again. Jalise Smallwood and Kyla Callins scored 14 apiece to lead Butler.
The two teams split a pair of games in 2017-18, with each team winning on the road. Hutchinson leads the overall series 56-30. Butler is 4-18 against the Blue Dragons under Helmer.
The last time the two teams met in the playoffs came in 2014, when Hutchinson edged Butler 54-52 in a thriller at Wichita State's Koch Arena. Both teams went on to the national tournament that season.