By Josh Brown
CASSTOWN — Even without star point guard Morgan Haney, the Miami East girls basketball team has found ways to compete in its first two games.
Against Butler Saturday night, though, the Vikings missed her a little too much.
Miami East (1-1) committed 26 turnovers against the Aviators, and though the Vikings remained with 10 points for the majority of the game and stayed within striking distance, Butler (2-0) was able to answer every time they made a run in a 44-36 Miami East loss Saturday night at home.
The Vikings still held a 16-13 lead after one quarter despite turning the ball over six times to Butler’s one, but eight more second-quarter turnovers allowed the Aviators to take a five-point halftime lead and withstand even an injury to leading scorer Brittney Petrosky.
“We’re still kind of young,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “I’m not making excuses whatsoever, but we’ve got to find ourselves collectively taking care of the ball. We’re playing without our point guard, we’ve got a young one, and our wings are doing a great job. I mean, 26 turnovers and we’re still in the ballgame. That says a lot about what the girls can do in other places. They do a nice job defensively, and I thought we rebounded pretty well tonight.
“Another thing that stands out tonight is shooting percentage. I don’t think we shot the ball real well tonight … but you’re not getting many shots if you’ve got 26 turnovers. So again, it just goes back to the turnovers.”
Miami East was able to find some success in transition in the opening quarter, and also from behind the 3-point arc. After not hitting any 3s as a team in Friday’s season-opening win at Dayton Christian, Haley Howard and Bailey Miller hit back-to-back 3s to give the Vikings a 12-8 lead. After a Tyree Fletcher putback for Butler, Gabrielle Hawkins hit Kaitlyn Mack for a fast-break layup to make it 14-10, but Willow Knight sank a 3 to cut the lead back to one. Hawkins finished the first quarter with a baseline drive, giving the Vikings a 16-13 lead.
Four more turnovers in the first three minutes of the second quarter allowed Butler to take the lead on a Petrosky drive, but Miller nailed another 3 and Howard hit a free throw to make it 20-17 East. Petrosky hit four straight free throws — making Butler 8 for 8 at the time — and then split yet another pair of free throws to make it 22-20 Butler, and the Aviators would not trail again.
For the game, Butler was 18 for 23 from the free throw line, while the Vikings were only 3 for 9.
“They beat us at the free throw line tonight. They had to,” Vanover said. “In one quarter, they only had two buckets and the rest were all free throws. Last night (against Dayton Christian), we were 20 for 25 from the free throw line, and that’s how we win the game.
“We don’t typically play back-to-back nights. You get heavy legs on the second night when you’re not used to doing it, and I just felt like we were a step slow. And maybe that’s one of the reasons we were fouling. We were kind of slow on our rotations, reaching, getting beat off the dribble.”
Olivia Schoenherr scored a putback and drew a foul, then she missed the free throw — only to have a teammate grab the rebound and find Petrosky open for a jumper to make it 26-20, and the Aviators carried a 27-22 lead into the second half.
After Butler led by as many as seven in the third, a jumper by Sage Hunley cut it back to five at 31-26. But Knight answered with a 3 and Fletcher cashed in after yet another turnover to make it a 36-26 game heading into the final eight minutes.
“It just seemed like every time we did something, they countered right back,” Vanover said. “We just couldn’t get over that hump. But we’re right there in the ballgame and still had an opportunity to win late, and I thought that was one of the nicest things to see. The girls just kept playing hard. They kept trying to make something happen.”
Petrosky, who led all scorers with 13 points, left the game with an injury with 5:49 to play, but the Aviators were content to eat up the clock the rest of the way. Butler’s biggest lead of the game was 12 at 41-29 in the middle of the fourth, but Miller hit her third 3 of the game to cut the lead to seven. A free throw by Howard got the Vikings to within six at 42-36 with roughly a minute to play, but the Aviators held on from there.
Things don’t get any easier for the Vikings, either. They travel to Tippecanoe to face the county rival Red Devils Wednesday before opening Cross County Conference play against Tri-County North Thursday.
“The nice thing about it is we play back-to-back nights three times this year,” Vanover said. “We’re going to get the chance to get used to it. We’re going to turn around, play Tipp Wednesday and Tri-County North on Thursday. Then with the Barnball Classic, we’ll get three chances.
“I like where we’re at right now. We competed well tonight, and I think that’s huge.”
Indian Lake 50, Troy Christian 36
INDIAN LAKE — Troy Christian lost in its season opener against Indian Lake Saturday.
Haley Peters led the Eagles with 10 points and eight rebounds.
With the loss, Troy Christian fell to 0-1. The Eagles host Jefferson Tuesday.
Newton 60, Houston 41
HOUSTON — Newton improved to 1-1 with a win over Houston Friday.
Tatum McBride led the Indians with 18 points, while Elizabeth Carroll added nine.
Newton hosts Milton-Union Tuesday.
* Ice Hockey
KETTERING — After splitting the first two games at the Frozen Creek Tournament, the Troy hockey team battled the Dayton Stealth to a 3-3 tie Saturday night, leaving only a Sunday matchup against the NW Eagles to finish the tournament.
Tristan Meek and Prestyn Hoefler each had a goal and an assist against the Dayton Stealth, with Zach Uhlenbrock adding the third goal.
Troy opens the home portion of its schedule at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at Hobart Arena against Xavier.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.