WARRENSBURG — Andrew Butts has many attributes.
That includes persistence.
Warrensburg-Latham's 6-foot-9 senior center often kept possessions alive on the glass and delivered second-chance points throughout Friday's 60-45 victory over Argenta-Oreana.
He finished the night with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“That's one of the things the coaches have been harping me about,” Butts said. “I always have to go after the ball and follow the shot. (Coach Vic Binkley) always says on offense, four guys in and one guy back.”
While Warrensburg (2-1) may pivot around Butts in the paint, the Cardinals also showcased a couple of promising newcomers.
Especially sophomore forward Joe Gustafson.
Butts and Gustafson shouldered Warrensburg's offense in the first half and combined for 18 points for a slim 28-25 lead by the break.
Gustafson, who succeeds older brother Will from last season, led the Cardinals with 18 points while sophomore point guard Jarius Ingram had 14 points.
“He stays with it,” Binkley said of Butts. “He's getting better every game. There's just a lot of new faces out there. Hopefully they'll keep building. We had three guys in double figures. That helps especially when you play good defense.”
Argenta (1-1) leaped to an 18-13 lead in the second quarter, but it was thwarted by turnovers and poor perimeter shooting.
The Bombers committed 21 turnovers and shot 2 of 16 from long range. Argenta guard Brody Ulrey finally converted Argenta's first 3 with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter.
Argenta senior forward Derek Jones led with 12 points while Ulrey had 10.
“We didn't have movement on offense,” Argenta coach Tom Saunches said. “We just did not move the ball or bodies in the half court. There's a reason we scored only 45.
“I don't want to take anything away from them (Warrensburg). I told the kids after the game, the best team usually wins. I thought they played as a team together.”
Argenta's Jared Gifford briefly provided a 31-30 advantage to start the second half and the Bombers only trailed 39-35 by the end of the third quarter.
However, Ingram nailed a couple of critical 3s to start the fourth quarter to go on an 8-0 run.
The Cardinals were in full control by then and led by as much as 52-37 after a Gustafson 3 and layup midway through the final period.
A key component was ball movement.
After struggling handling the ball most of the night, Warrensburg only committed one turnover in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals totaled 15 turnovers in the game.
“We had too many turnovers by the half,” Binkley said. “We talked about that. I said we had to take care of the ball a little bit better, keep attacking and we had to rebound. I thought in the second half they did all three of them. We were patient and we hit some big shots tonight.
“I felt we had really good ball movement,” Butts said. “Everyone was being unselfish and tried to get the best shot we could.”
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Argenta had 6-foot-7 Jones to match up Butts.
Jones initially held his ground and scored eight points until he got into foul trouble early in the second quarter. Once he disappeared onto the bench, Butts and Gustafson took over inside.
Jones didn't get another basket until late in the third quarter.
“We need to defend that better,” Saunches said of Butts. “It's not just on the shoulders of the guy who's guarding. We need better help, too. Hopefully we'll learn from this and move on.”
Argenta's JaColby Boston did a little bit of everything.
He often brought the ball up-court and crashed the boards.
The St. Teresa transfer had eight points and 16 rebounds.
“He has a lot of game that I think he's going to show this year,” Saunches said.
Both offenses were sluggish to say the least in the first quarter and combined for 13 turnovers.
They rattled each other with the press.
Argenta couldn't solve it.
“We try to keep the ball out of the middle,” Binkley said. “They're just so quick. We just tried to contain them and not let them make big plays. It's good to see we held them to 10 points in three quarters. We're real pleased with the effort and it's a great win for us.”
Both teams will be in the Macon County Tournament next week.
It begins on Monday, Dec. 5 and runs until Friday, Dec. 9 at Central A&M.
Perhaps they will meet again there.