Jared Butler, the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Final Four, was selected as the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month for April. Butler, who played his high school ball at Riverside Academy, capped a spectacular college basketball career by leading Baylor to its first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The senior guard scored 22 points in the 86-70 national title-game victory over top-seeded Gonzaga (April 5), which had entered the contest undefeated. Butler hit a pair of driving layups to key a 9-0 first-half run that gave the Bears an early double-digit lead. The lead would build to 19 but Gonzaga whittled it back to 10 at halftime – then Butler buried back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half to reassert his team’s dominance. The All-American hit 4-of-9 three-point attempts and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line in the game.
“He’s a complete player,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Butler. “He can guard, he can score mid-range, he can score at the basket, and he’s a deadly 3-point shooter. . . . I thought we could have done a better job of forcing him into taking those 2’s.”
In the national semifinal against Houston (April 3), Butler erupted for 17 first-half points, including four three-pointers as the Bears buried the Cougars in the first half. Baylor jumped to a 25-point first-half lead and Houston wouldn’t threaten the rest of the way. “When we’re all connected and we’re all united, it’s hard for anybody to beat us,” said Butler, who had struggled in the first four NCAA Tournament games, hitting just 6-of-24 from 3-point range. “We’ve got a lot of guys who would start on other teams, easily. We’ve got a lot of pros, and I think that’s why we’re so good. That’s why we’re making it to the national championship game. And that’s what we’re going to need in the championship game as well.”
“[Winning a championship] was one of my goals,” Butler said after the national semifinal victory. “And I know some of my teammates’ goals, just to leave a legacy at Baylor, create Baylor as a blue blood.”
The first consensus First-Team All-American in program history, Butler earned the monthly honor over four standout baseball players and a state champion bowler.
- Junior infielder Payton Alexander has been the catalyst for the sizzling-hot Loyola Wolf Pack who have climbed to No. 10 in the NAIA national baseball polls. The 5-11, 200-pounder hit .375 with 21 hits, a pair of home runs, two doubles, 18 runs scored and nine RBI as the Wolf Pack posted a 12-3 record during the month of April. The right-handed hitting Alexander has a season batting average of .400 with 45 RBI, eight home runs and 10 doubles. He has also been a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen bases. The ‘Pack sport a 33-11 overall mark, including 15-2 in conference play.
- Sophomore shortstop Collin Burns, a De La Salle High School graduate, hit .368 with four home runs, four doubles, 12 RBI and 19 runs scored to lead the Tulane baseball team to a 10-1 record in the month of April. Burns extended an impressive hitting streak to 17 games in April (snapped on the final day of the month) for the Green Wave, which currently holds the top spot in the American Athletic Conference standings at 12-2 (24-14 overall). For the season, the left-handed Burns is hitting .360 with a .579 slugging percentage. He has scored 42 runs this season and is 15-of-20 in stolen base attempts. His 14 doubles lead the American.
- Drew Gardner led Brother Martin to its fifth bowling state championship (all since 2015) on April 26. The Crusaders’ five titles are more than any other school in Louisiana. Gardner averaged 227.7 for 14 games in five playoff matches and rolled nine consecutive games of 200 or better from the quarterfinals through the championship. He set season bests with a 280 game and 766 series (255.3 average) in a 15-12 semifinal victory over No. 1 seed Catholic, allowing Brother Martin to avenge its first regular-season loss in eight years. The senior was voted co-MVP of the New Orleans Region District 1 after averaging 216, the highest average in the New Orleans area and fifth highest in the state. In four years with Gardner on the roster, Brother Martin won three state championships (no championship awarded in 2020) and posted a 62-1 record. Away from high school competition, Gardner placed fourth in the U19 boys’ division at the Louisiana Pepsi Youth Championship on April 17-18. He was also awarded the annual Lanson Chien Memorial Youth Scholarship for accomplishments on and off the lanes by a New Orleans-area college-bound bowler.
- Delgado’s Brayden Jobert posted a .358 batting average with 20 runs scored and 24 hits, including four doubles, a triple, and eight homeruns as well as 27 RBIs as he led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record during the month of April. For the season, the LSU commit is hitting .385 with team-bests of 13 home runs, 46 runs scored and 64 RBI as he has led Delgado to the top seed in this weekend’s NJCAA Region XXIII Division I Baseball Tournament which the Dolphins will host at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
- Holy Cross pitcher Lance Lauve had a memorable night on April 20 in his fourth trip to the mound since elbow surgery in September. Pitching in a key Catholic League showdown against John Curtis, the senior right-hander turned in the performance of his career. The hard-throwing Lauve did not allow a Curtis hitter to reach base as he retired all 21 batters in a 1-0, perfect-game victory at Harahan Playground. He struck out 12 batters over the first six innings and then induced flyouts from the final three batters. “I wanted to come out here and give my team everything I had and go out there and give it my best,” said Lauve. The win put Holy Cross in a virtual tie with Curtis at the top of the District 9-5A standings. Coming into the game, Lauve had thrown a total of six innings this season as he returned to strength following his surgery. In his follow-up outing on April 29 against St. Paul’s in the Division I playoff opener, Lauve was solid, allowing four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts, but the Tigers lost 4-0.