By Ashley Graves
For The News Courier
Justin Taylor didn't imagine being on the floor of Tom Drake Coliseum in February when basketball season began four months ago.
Having a third straight 20 win season wasn't on the West Limestone coach's radar either.
Boy, did he get a surprise.
Both ended up becoming a reality for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, the ride came to an end Thursday night as they fell 62-48 to Butler in the Class 4A semifinals of the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State Community College.
"We're never happy to lose the first game here, but going into this year we had no experience, no seniors, only had three guys who had every stepped foot on a varsity floor, and we didn't have a point guard that had ever bounced a ball in a varsity game," Taylor said. "To finish 20-13, I've never been more proud of a group of guys."
Butler (13-11) managed to build a narrow lead over West Limestone with a 6-0 run at the 3:49 mark of the first quarter. The Rebels led by as many as 10 at one point in the contest. West Limestone threatened several times throughout the remaining three quarters to change that, however, a three point margin was as close as they could get.
"We tried as hard as we could," Grant Baugher said. "We did everything we wanted to do. We gave 100 percent and did what we were supposed to do, we just didn't get the win."
Baugher led the Wildcats with 17 points. Reed Blankenship chipped in with 12.
Carl Mastin and Darrion Allen each had 15 points to lead Butler.
"This wasn't supposed to happen," Taylor said of making it to the Northwest Regional Tournament. "We weren't the best basketball players on the floor every night, but we had 10 winners we threw out there, and I'll take that any day. I'm just awfully proud of these kids."