Greg Boatright didn’t need a crystal ball.
The Fairview High boys basketball coach had a pretty good idea about who his Aggies would face in the Class 4A Northwest Regional final a good two hours before the other semifinal tipped off.
Boatright’s prediction? Top-ranked Butler.
And for good reason.
Butler has been an overwhelming favorite to win the Class 4A state title since the season began and the Rebels have lived up to the hype ever since.
Butler whipped overmatched East Lawrence 84-40 in performance Eagles coach Dale Walker called “tasteless” because Rebels coach Jack Doss left superstar Trevor Lacey, a 6-foot-4 guard, on the floor for the duration of a lopsided game so he could set the regional scoring record.
Lacey did set the record, scoring his 44th point with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation as various opinions circulated through Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum about whether or not Doss was right in leaving his starters on the floor in a game that was well out of hand early in the third quarter.
But none of that was on Boatright’s mind. His only concern was finding a way to slow down the ubber-talented Butler machine.
“I’m glad we’re going to get to play in it, Butler or what not,” Boatright said. “We’ve watched them on film and they’re the real deal.
“You can ask everybody they’ve played this year. I mean, they haven’t lost but two times, and that was to large schools.”
Boatright knows his Aggies will have their hands full with Lacey, Justin Pride and company. Butler has more sheer talent, and the Rebels have wreaked havoc on teams with their harassing half-court traps and physical brand of basketball.
Butler only played six Class 4A games during the regular season. All of those were required by the state.
How did the other Class 4A foes fare? Well, not well. The Rebels won all six games by an average of 41.3 points.
Boatright is aware of the results. He and his Aggies aren’t backing down from the challenge, though. That’s not Fairview’s identity.
Fairview is enjoying one its best seasons ever, playing in a regional final for the first time in program history. The Aggies defeated West Limestone 64-57 in the regional semifinals, with star point guard Nathan Ring pouring in 28 points. Luke Bailey added 20 and 6-foot-4 center Ryan Parker scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
And the Aggies have gotten to this point by playing unselfish, hard-nosed, team-oriented basketball.
That philosophy isn’t going to change, even though Boatright said the Aggies will make a few adjustments to compete with the state’s top-ranked team.
“We’re going to have to come and play,” Boatright said. “We’re going to have a game plan that might not be your typical basketball game, but we’re going to have to give it a shot to try and stay in the game with them.”
Justin Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 257 or by e-mail at email@example.com.