John Butler has been one of the state’s top basketball prospects the past three years. Now Butler can add another accolade to his name: state champion.
The 7-foot-1 Florida State signee scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half to help Christ Church to a 58-49 win over Wade Hampton in the Class 2A championship on Friday at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
Butler also grabbed 11 boards and had five blocks in his final high school game. It was the school’s first championship in boys basketball.
“It feels great. It is what I needed to top off my career,” Butler said. “We didn’t know this year if we would even have a season. Once we found out we were, we worked hard and made it count.”
Shortly after the buzzer sounded, Butler’s father and Christ Church coach John Butler Sr. grabbed and hugged his son. After the crowd had cleared out, the Butler family posed for a photo at center court.
Basketball is a family affair for the Butlers, and they have strong ties to the Midlands. John Butler Sr. played at Dreher High School in Columbia and also coached at Eau Claire from 2000-04. Butler’s wife played basketball at South Carolina. Jordan Butler is a sophomore starter for Christ Church and the youngest child is a ball boy.
“This was it. I don’t get to coach him anymore,” John Butler Sr. said of his oldest son. “I have to let someone else coach him. To have him there to embrace and to have my whole family here, you can’t get any better than that.”
Butler did a bulk of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 11 points as the Cavs built an an 11-point lead. His long frame and inside presence with his brother, Jordan, gave Wade Hampton problems on the inside.
The Red Devils used their fast-pace tempo to go on a 17-6 run and take a 35-34 lead on Versalius Johnson’s basket.
The Cavaliers finished the third quarter on an 8-2 run and led 42-37. Wade Hampton got as close as 48-44 with less than three minutes left before Christ Church pulled away.
Sam Perry added 19 points for the Cavaliers, who knocked off defending state champion Gray Collegiate on Monday to advance to the championship game.
“I told my guys what are you going to do?” Butler Sr. said. “I told them don’t slay the dragon and let someone else get the princess. We needed to seal the deal, and they came ready to play tonight.”
Johnson led Wade Hampton with 19 points. Jamien Risher added 13 and Brandon Brantley scored 11.
CC: Sam Perry 19, Rogers 6, Jordan Butler 4, John Butler 25, Johnson 4. WH: Versalius Johnson 19, Gray 6, Brandon Brantley 11, Jamian Risher 13.