HUTCHINSON — As a 6-foot-6 post player, Hutchinson freshman Bruce Reed recognizes that his offensive output is directly tied to his teammates' ability to get him the ball.
So even on a perfect shooting night, Reed also realized that his production shouldn't stop at scoring. Reed was involved in offensively and defensively against Butler on Wednesday night. He delivered an important blocked shot and a key rebound down the stretch as the Blue Dragons won a Jayhawk Conference West game 71-65.
Reed, a forward from Olathe, filled the stat sheet with five blocked shots, three assists and a steal while making all nine of his shots from the field and scoring 19 points.
"I wasn't really worried about the shots," Reed said. "I just wanted to win."
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When Hutchinson's double-digit second-half lead dwindled to two with just over a minute to go, Butler (13-4, 1-2) understandably gave the ball to forward Caleb Walker in hopes he could create a shot in the lane or draw a foul.
Walker, a Hutchinson High graduate who is two inches shorter than Reed, finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds. But his hopes for a game-changing play were dashed by Reed, who emphatically blocked Walker's runner from just outside the paint.
Reed followed that with a dunk in transition with 19 seconds to go that put Hutchinson (15-2, 2-1) ahead 69-65 and ended Butler's chances at a rally.
"I know he likes to drive to the bucket," Reed said of Walker. "I just anticipated the block."
Reed was a catalyst in Hutchinson building a lead that grew to 11, 47-36, with 12 minutes to go. He delivered a nice bounce pass for an assist to Joe Mitchell, then had a steal and a dunk to cap Hutchinson's 6-0 run and give the Blue Dragons their biggest lead.
"I've been on Bruce quite a bit, and there were times early in the year that he didn't appreciate that very much," Hutchinson coach Steve Eck said. "But he's getting used to it a little bit. When he keeps his intensity going, he's a good ballplayer."
Though Hutchinson shot 51 percent (27 of 53), its offense hit lulls at times. One dry spell enabled Butler to tie it 57-57 seven minutes after the Grizzlies faced their biggest deficit. Butler took its only lead of the second half — and first since leading 3-2 — on a Walker basket that made it 59-58 with 4:37 to go.
Butler wouldn't lead again. Though the Grizzlies tied it 63-63 with 2:52 to go, Hutchinson's combination of Reed and Mitchell, who scored 23 points, enabled the Blue Dragons to create distance at the end.
Mitchell missed all four of his three-point attempts but found success by driving to the basket for layups and free throw opportunities. He scored eight of Hutchinson's final 13 points.
"My shot wasn't falling, so I had to make another way to score," Mitchell said. "I just took it to the rack."
Butler outrebounded Hutchinson 48-37. That caused particular concern late, when the Grizzlies could have made up for missed shots with second-chance opportunities.
Those didn't happen. Butler was one-and-done on its late possessions, with Reed grabbing a rebound on a missed three-pointer that would have made it a one-point game with 20 seconds to go. And though the Blue Dragons missed 11 free throws in the second half, they had enough for their second conference win.
"It's a completely different game," Reed said of conference play. "Intensity is way up. Nobody wants to lose a conference game."
BUTLER: Cousin 6-19 4-5 17, Morgan 2-8 0-0 4, Pierce 3-8 2-4 8, Gibbs 3-8 3-4 9 Walker 8-15 2-4 19, Hilyard 0-4 0-0 0, Sloan 0-1 1-2 1, Brooks 2-6 3-4 7, Ingram 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-69 15-23 65.
HUTCHINSON: Frantz 0-1 2-2 2, Mitchell 7-15 9-12 23, Reed 9-9 0-4 19, Flowers 2-5 0-0 5, Davis 4-8 2-4 10, Stewart 2-9 1-2 5, Barrett 1-2 0-0 3, Roberts 0-0 0-0 0, Barnes 1-2 0-0 2, Wade 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 27-53 14-25 71.
Halftime — Hutchinson 33, Butler 27. Three-point shooting — Hutchinson 2-14 (Cousin 1-3, Walker 1-3, Sloan 0-1, Gibbs 0-1, Brooks 0-1, Hilyard 0-2, Morgan 0-3); Hutchinson 3-9 (Barrett 1-1, Reed 1-1, Flowers 1-1, Stewart 0-2, Mitchell 0-4). Rebounds — Butler 48 (Walker 16), Hutchinson 37 (Mitchell 10). Total fouls — Butler 23, Hutchinson 18. Assists — Butler 10 (Cousin 5), Hutchinson 17 (Frantz 6).