Butler men can't hold lead in loss to league-leading Neosho

Butler men can't hold lead in loss to league-leading Neosho

The Butler men saw the lead slip away three times in a hard-fought home loss to league-leading Neosho County on Wednesday at the Power Plant.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 15 in the first half, then twice had narrow leads in the second half, but couldn't hold off the Panthers in a 77-68 loss that snaps a two-game winning streak.

Butler started the game strong, led by eight quick points from Caelan Neal. Butler would go ahead by as many as 15 points with a 29-14 lead after a Derrick Byrd 3-pointer with 11:26 to go in the first half.

Butler's lead was still in double digits when Caelan Neal made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 37-24 with 7:42 left in the period. That's when Neosho started its first big surge of the game.

When former Butler football player Garin Vandiver made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half, the Neosho would take a 42-39 lead. Butler got two free throws from Caelan Neal to make it a 42-41 game at intermission.

Butler scored the first four points of the second half to retake the lead at 45-42 before Neosho pushed the lead back to nine at 57-48 with 13:11 remaining.

Will Adler would get hot from 3-point range and made four 3-pointers, the last one putting Butler ahead 63-61 with 6:48 to go.

Neosho, however, would control the contest the rest of the way, eventually stretching the final margin to nine points.

Caelan Neal had 18 points to lead the Grizzlies while Derrick Byrd scored 14. Will Adler had 12 points off the bench.

For the first time in three games, the Grizzlies were held to less than 50 percent shooting from the floor, making 22 of 59 shots for 37 percent, while making 13 of 38 3-pointers for 34 percent. Neosho outrebounded the Grizzlies 36 to 27.

The Grizzlies are now 14-12 overall and 6-9 in Jayhawk Conference play, with a home game against rival Coffeyville at 4 p.m. on Saturday.