The 15th-ranked Dundalk Owls came to Woodlawn last night to show their muscle against the sixth-ranked Warriors, favorites in the Baltimore County 3A-4A League.
But it was the muscle of one 6-foot-7 Warrior that helped thwart the Owls' game attempt at an upset.
Forward Guy Butler scored a game-high 30 points, helping host Woodlawn rally from an eight-point deficit in the third quarter en route to a 61-58 win.
Butler, who has had to pick up the scoring load since the loss of Baltimore County Player of the Year Donte Dudley in the preseason, was nearly unstoppable in the second half, scoring 19 points.
"Basically, we just couldn't stop Guy Butler. He was the difference," said Dundalk coach Andy Pons.
Dundalk (4-2, 4-2) used its half-court offense to control the tempo throughout and extended its lead to 38-30 on an acrobatic follow-up slam by Leon Flournoy with 4:47 left in the third quarter.
But that's when Butler took over.
First, he connected on an alley-oop slam off a pass from Keion Carpenter. Minutes later, he hit a reverse layup and completed the three-point play to tie the game at 48 with 6:17 to play.
The forward was at his best when getting the ball near the foul line, either hitting the short jumper or driving for the layup.
The junior said he has tried to step up since Dudley's injury.
"I'm trying to do what he was doing last year," said Butler, who is averaging a little more than 21 points. "I like to drive, shoot the short-range jumper and try to control the offense. This was my best game so far."
The Warriors (4-0, 4-0) trailed 55-53 with 2:44 left, before Butler evened the score with a layup. After a Dundalk turnover, guard Steve Jackson gave Woodlawn a lead it never would relinquish with a driving layup that made it 57-55.
With 30 seconds left, the Owls pulled to within 59-58 on a 15-footer by Jaquay Jackson, but a pair of foul shots by Carpenter with 25 seconds left gave the Warriors their final margin of victory.
Dundalk's Travis Thornton had one final chance to force overtime, but his desperation shot from 25 feet bounced high off the backboard.
"We're not a really good offensive club right now," said Woodlawn coach Rod Norris. "Dundalk deserves a lot of credit. They played with a lot of intensity and threw us out of our game a little."
Norris said his team can't afford to rely on Butler to carry the scoring load for the rest of the season.
"You're not going to win forever with just one go-to man," said Norris. "Right now, we're lacking some offensive punch."
For Pons, the story was almost the opposite. He said he had few complaints because his team played hard the entire way.
SG "To play 100 percent the entire way is all I can ask for," he said.