Butler, PA – The 3-point shot will give the Butler County Community College men’s basketball team its best shot at its first winning season in three years, Jace Stutz said, and if its unique five-guard offense plays at the height of its game, the small Pioneers can compensate for their lack of size and post “triple digits” on the scoreboard.
“With all five guards who can shoot, it is going to be nice,” Stutz said.
“I know we can score,” Kaden Rock said.
“If we are shooting well,” Brendon Record said, “we can be in any game with anybody.”
“Every man has the potential to make a 3 with great percentage,” Justice Lewandowski said.
“It’s going to be something special,” Joel Stutz said, “if you see all of us on.”
Joel Stutz was on in sinking 70 3-pointers for a Butler High squad in 2016-17. His twin, Jace, hit 21.
Rock led a BC3 that finished 9-20 in 2016-17 with 50 3-pointers. Record had a second-best 41 and Lewandowski’s 21 tied for third on a Pioneers squad that made 28.5 percent of its shots beyond 19 feet, 9 inches.
Coach: 5-guard offense has its ups and downs
BC3, coach Dick Hartung said, has traditionally played a four-guard offense “with one big guy. Because of our situation, we are a five-guard offense. There will be some advantages to it. There will be some disadvantages to it.”
At 6-foot-4, Lewandowski is BC3’s tallest player, followed by 6-3 freshman Josh Knochel, a graduate of Knoch. No one else on the roster is taller than 6-1.
“There is an old saying in warfare, ‘Whoever controls the high ground wins,”’ Hartung said. “And we are going to have trouble controlling the high ground.”
Led by 6-5 Garret McHenry, and 6-4 Jake Anderson and Chris Pipkin, BC3 in 2016-17 outrebounded its opponents by 172 and in blocked shots by 45.
But “last year our guys couldn’t bring the ball up the floor and shoot 3s,” Hartung said.
Anderson had 14 3-pointers, McHenry eight and Pipkin none. McHenry averaged 21.5 points, Pipkin 11.7 and Anderson 5.3.
“We had three good big men,” Rock said, “and a lot of our offense was focused on feeding the post a lot.”
Which may have hindered BC3’s passing game, which Lewandowski said will be critical to the success of this year’s squad.
“At times we got a little stale with ball movement,” he said, “and it showed on the scoreboard. If we can keep the ball flowing this year, it is going to be a big difference.”
“We have to hit the long bomb”
The Pioneers in 2016-17 scored in triple digits once, in a 102-77 January victory over the Community College of Allegheny County-Boyce. BC3, which averaged 75 points, scored 80 or more points in eight of its 29 games.
“If we are going to be successful,” Rock said, “we have to hit the long bomb. We have to hit the 3.”
Rock, of Butler, made 36.2 percent of his 3-point shots in 2016-17, Lewandowski 30 percent and Record – BC3’s main ballhandler – 29.9 percent.
“Our game has just changed so much,” said Record, of Grove City. “Basically we have five guys who can handle the ball now. We thrived on the inside last year and we will have to thrive on the outside this year.”
Record said his experience in playing 802 minutes, more than any other member of BC3’s 2016-17 team, could benefit a Pioneers squad seeking its first winning season since a 15-14 finish in 2014-15.
That team also finished second in the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference Division III championship to the Community College of Allegheny County-Boyce.
“The 2014-15 team is very similar to this team,” Hartung said. “Very small, but they could really shoot.”
“We will be able to handle the pressure”
This year’s team is seeking the program’s first WPCC crown since 1993-94, when the Pioneers beat Penn State-New Kensington in the finals.
“You have to learn how to handle the pressure these teams throw at you,” Record said. “We will be able to handle the pressure. There are going to be mismatches that we are going to have. Some of their bigs won’t be able to step out onto the 3-point line with Lewandowski or the Stutzes.”
Lewandowski won’t likely face an inordinate amount of defensive attention in that he is BC3’s tallest player, Hartung said.
“He just has to play,” Hartung said. “Knochel will come off the bench. That gives us a little bit of size. I can play them both at the same time.”
Lewandowski, of Butler, said he believes defenses will try to box him out first, “but we have a lot of guards who know how to crash the boards.”
“We are going to have to box out every guy,” Rock said.
“We are going to play some guys who are just big monsters inside,” Jace Stutz said.
“We have to hit the glass,” Joel Stutz said.
And the 3-point shot.
“We are going to live and die by the 3,” Rock said.
“The first good open 3 is probably going to be the one that is shot,” Jace Stutz said. “If we are all on, hopefully you will see triple digits.”
BC3’s 2017-18 roster also features freshmen Jordan Sager, 5-9, Mohawk; Noah Pollock, 5-7, Karns City; Alijah Robinson, 6-0, Butler; Ian McElroy, 6-0, Karns City; and Josh Campbell, 6-1, Knoch.
BC3 men’s basketball 2017-18 schedule
HOME GAMES in ALL CAPS
Nov. 3 at PSU-Greater Allegheny (scrimmage), 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 Allegany College OF MARYLAND, 8 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Garrett College Tournament, McHenry, Md., TBD
Nov. 11 at Garrett College Tournament, McHenry, Md., TBD
Nov. 15 at Potomac State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 17 Prince George’S, 7 p.m.
Nov. 20 PSU-DuBois, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 PSU-Fayette, 7 p.m.
Dec. 1 at Allegany College of Maryland Tournament, 7 p.m.
Dec. 2 vs. Hagerstown @ Allegany College of Maryland Tournament, 1 p.m.
Dec. 9 Garrett College, 3 p.m.
Dec. 16 vs. Cayuga at Pitt-Titusville Tournament, 3 p.m.
Dec. 17 vs. Columbus State at Pitt-Titusville Tournament, 6 p.m.
Jan. 5 at PSU-Fayette, 3 p.m.
Jan. 8 CCAC-Boyce, 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 CCAC-Allegheny, 7 p.m.
Jan. 13 Westmoreland, 2 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Pitt-Titusville, 7 p.m.
Jan. 17 at CCBC, 7 p.m.
Jan. 20 at Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 Penn Highlands, 7 p.m.
Jan. 27 at CCAC-Allegheny, 2 p.m.
Jan. 29 CCAC-Boyce, 6 p.m.
Jan. 31 Pitt-Titusville, 7 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Penn Highlands, 2 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Westmoreland, 7 p.m.
Feb 7 Potomac State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 10 CCBC, 2 p.m.
Feb. 16-18 WPCC Tournament, TBD
Feb. 22-25 NJCAA Region XX @ Prince George’s, TBD
Jordan Sager, 5-9, G, FR, Mohawk
Kaden Rock, 5-9, G, SO, Butler
Noah Pollock, 5-7, G, FR, Karns City
Justice Lewandowski, 6-4, G, SO, Butler
Alijah Robinson, 6-0, G, FR, Butler
Brendon Record, 6-1, G, SO, Grove City
Ian McElroy, 6-0, G, FR, Karns City
Jace Stutz, 6-1, G, FR, Butler
Joel Stutz, 6-1, G, FR, Butler
Josh Campbell, 6-1, G, FR, Knoch
Josh Knochel, 6-3, F, FR, Knoch
BC3 Women’s Basketball Team Means Business with “Mean” Business
Mackenzie Craig’s scrappiness could galvanize a freshmen-heavy Butler County Community College women’s basketball program fighting to replace its first All-American and preparing to defend its two consecutive and only Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championships, fellow forward Carly Burdett said.
Craig “is very strong and tough,” said Burdett, one of eight freshmen who inherit a BC3 squad without Julia Baxter, the program’s only 1,000-point scorer and its first National Junior College Athletic Association All-American.
Coach Dick Hartung said Craig, a 5-foot-10 Karns City High graduate, is “mean” in the paint.
The meanest woman on the court?
“I think so,” Craig said with a laugh. “I would say it definitely comes from aggression. I am very competitive. I think coming from Karns City, that makes more competitive players.”
“I will do anything I can to win”
Craig and Karns City teammate Alyssa Gibson last year became the school’s only two girls basketball players to have won four straight District 9 championships.
“I want to win, and I will do anything I can to win,” said Craig, who for a Karns City squad that in 2016-17 finished 19-6 averaged a team-leading 7.8 rebounds and a second-best 14.6 points per game. “I started out pretty weak underneath the basket and not being really strong. In my senior year I realized I needed to man up and become that kind of mean in order to win.”
Added Burdett, a 5-10 Knoch High graduate: “If you go up for a rebound with her, she is definitely going to win it. She doesn’t let anybody else get the ball.”
Craig and Burdett will join point guard Lydia Roth, the squad’s only sophomore, in the starting lineup, Hartung said.
Roth, who started in 16 of the 23 games in which she played in 2016-17, said Craig “is going to be a force underneath the basket. She is going to be a lot like Baxter last year. She just doesn’t stop. Even if it doesn’t go in the first time, you know it is eventually going to go in.”
Craig “just like Baxter, but just not as big”
Baxter, a 5-11 forward from Butler Area High, ended her BC3 career with 1,070 points. In 2016-17, she guided the Pioneers to a 16-9 finish; ranked third in the NJCAA’s Division III with 16.9 rebounds per game; fourth with 75 blocks; sixth with 25.3 points per game; and 12th with a 55 percent shooting average from the field.
“Julia Baxters don’t come along every year,” Hartung said, “but Craig is not bad. She is tough around the basket. She is just like Baxter, but just not as big. She has a good touch and likes to mix it up.”
While Craig’s leadership may hinge on tenacity, Roth’s may depend on serenity.
Roth played a season-high 37 minutes in the NJCAA Division III Region XX semifinals, in which BC3’s seven-game winning streak, and year, ended with a 62-57 loss to Prince George’s at Rockville, Md.
“In that game there was a lot of pressure,” said Roth, of Butler. “I learned a lot. I learned to just stay calm. I think last year the (other) team would get in my head a little bit. I think I have learned to become more of a leader.”
Roth “very confident at the point”
Roth averaged 6.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and finished with 55 assists and 22 steals while playing with the likes of Christina Davis, Saydie Moore, Kalynn Callihan and Baxter. She scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and had two assists as BC3’s only freshman starter and its ballhandler against Prince George’s.
“She understands how good you have to be to play against the women we play against,” Hartung said. “Her strength is her dependability. You know she is going to be there and get after it. She will take care of the ball and help her teammates out on defense.”
Burdett said she noticed that Roth is “very confident at the point. She can get to the hoop very easily. She can create a lot of plays for everybody.”
That would include Burdett, whom Hartung called the “the best player” on a 2016-17 Knoch High team.
“She can get to the basket,” Hartung said. “She has a good first step. The scoring inside will come from Craig and Burdett.”
Confidence, said Craig – and teamwork, Burdett added – will be key for a BC3 team that may ultimately battle Westmoreland County Community College again for the WPCC title – as it has in beating the Wolfpack the past two years.
Persistence in the paint won’t hurt, either, Burdett said.
“I hope Mackenzie’s meanness on the court rubs off on us,” Burdett said. “That will motivate us to keep going and try our best. And everyone can get a little mean.”
Joining Roth, Craig and Burdett on BC3’s roster are guards Madeline Schnur, from St. Joseph High, Natrona Heights; Caitlyn Mueller, First Baptist Christian School, Butler; Kelly Kriely and Brooke Dingel, of Butler High; Darienne Yates, Slippery Rock High; and Amara Dorcy, of Butler.
BC3 women’s basketball 2017-18 schedule
HOME GAMES in ALL CAPS
Nov. 3 at PSU-Greater Allegheny, 5 p.m.
Nov. 7 Allegany College of Maryland, 6 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Garrett College Tournament, TBD
Nov. 11 at Garrett College Tournament, TBD
Nov. 15 at Potomac State, 5 p.m.
Nov. 17 Prince George’s, 5 p.m.
Nov. 20 PSU-DuBois, 5 p.m.
Nov. 29 PSU-Fayette, 5 p.m.
Dec. 4 Point Park JV, 6 p.m.
Dec. 7 at Grove City JV, 7 p.m.
Dec. 9 Garrett College, 1 p.m.
Dec. 11 Point Park JV, 6 p.m.
Dec. 16 vs. Cayuga at Pitt-Titusville Tournament, 1p.m.
Dec. 17 vs. Columbus State at Pitt-Titusville Tournament, 4 p.m.
Dec. 19 at PSU-DuBois, 6 p.m.
Jan. 5 at PSU-Fayette, 1 p.m.
Jan. 10 CCAC-Allegheny, 5 p.m.
Jan. 13 Westmoreland, 12 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Pitt-Titusville, 5 p.m.
Jan. 17 at CCBC, 5 p.m.
Jan. 20 at Montgomery, 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 Penn Highlands, 5 p.m.
Jan. 27 at CCAC-Allegheny, 12 p.m.
Jan. 29 Grove City JV, 5 p.m.
Jan. 31 Pitt-Titusville, 5 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Penn Highlands, 12 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Westmoreland, 5 p.m.
Feb. 7 Potomac State, 5 p.m.
Feb. 10 CCBC, 12 p.m.
Feb. 16-18 WPCC Tournament, TBD
Feb. 22-25 NJCAA Region XX @ Prince George’s, TBD
BC3 women’s basketball 2017-18 roster
Lydia Roth, 5-2, G, SO, Butler
Madeline Schnur, 5-2, G, FR, St. Joseph High, Natrona Heights
Caitlyn Mueller, 5-2, G, FR, First Baptist Christian School, Butler
Amara Dorcy, 5-2, G, FR, Butler
Kelly Kriely, 5-2, G, FR, Butler
Darienne Yates, 5-5, G, FR, Slippery Rock
Mackenzie Craig, 5-10, F, FR, Karns City
Carly Burdett, 5-10, F, FR, Knoch
Brooke Dingel, 5-5, G, FR, Butler