Had Lake Braddock been facing any other opponent on Friday, Bruins Coach Brian Metress probably would have been a bit more concerned about his team’s readiness after four days off from school and practice.
But the Bruins had been anticipating the contest for two weeks now, still burning from a Jan. 10 loss on an Annandale three-pointer at the buzzer that, by rule, should not have counted.
“As soon as Monday rolled around, we were hyped because the Annandale game was going down on Friday,” Bruins junior forward A.J. Alexander said. “We knew it would be an emotional game after losing on a skeptical call, so we had to take that energy and use it to our advantage.”
To most, Butler is better known as “Natalie’s little brother,” his sister being former two-time All-Met Bruin forward and current Georgetown freshman Natalie Butler. Friday, all eyes — including Natalie’s, from the home stands — were on Butler, who found positioning inside to score six first-quarter points and spark Lake Braddock (11-3, 5-1 in Va. Conference 7) to a lead that it would never relinquish.
“Of course, my sister was a great player here and I was able to help her develop just like she has helped me along the way,” said Butler, who at 6-foot-6 stands one inch taller than his sister. “I feel fortunate to be getting more playing time this year and have the opportunity to make somewhat of a name for myself.”
Butler heard his name called often in the second quarter, scoring the team’s first nine points that included a layup, three-pointer and two free throws. Alexander (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Will Gregorits (16 points) also found success in the post against the smaller Atoms by controlling the boards and setting up transition opportunities.
Ignited by a thunderous left-handed dunk from Alexander, the Bruins closed the first half on a 10-2 run that extended their lead to 20 points.
“Last time we played them, we had an 18-point lead in the third quarter and lost it, so we wanted to keep pushing the tempo and building on our lead tonight,” Gregorits said. “We didn’t want to let them come back or leave any doubt.”
Austin Hall helped Annandale (11-5, 3-3) briefly build momentum with a long three-pointer that cut the deficit to 13 midway through the third period. But following a timeout, the Bruins took the floor re-energized, sealing the victory with a 19-5 run.
With their lone Conference 7 loss now avenged, the Bruins shift their focus to Monday’s makeup game at home against W.T. Woodson with a chance to move into a tie for first place.