HANCEVILLE — Every time Brooks made a run, Butler responded.
Ultimately, the Lions, who cut a 9-point deficit to one mid-fourth quarter, couldn't completely close the gap, falling 47-40 Thursday in a Class 4A semifinal at the AHSAA Northwest Regional basketball tournament.
Behind strong inside play, especially from six-foot-5 sophomore Robert Steele, Butler (16-13) used a 16-6 run to turn a 1-point halftime deficit into a 33-24 lead with 7:07 left to play.
Brooks' season ended at 26-8, while Butler, which eliminated the Lions in a sub-regional last year, advance to a regional final for the 10th straight time. The Rebels will play J.O. Johnson on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. at Wallace State-Hanceville's Tom Drake Coliseum.
"I was proud of the way our guys competed," said first-year coach Brian Wright, who led Brooks to its first regional appearance since 2009. "I have no problem with that. We just couldn't handle their size, especially there late. I think that was the difference in the game.
"We'd make a run, but they would get an offensive rebound and a bucket. That's what good teams are supposed to do."
Trailing by a point at halftime, Butler looked like it would pull away, using a 16-6 third-quarter run to build a 31-24 lead.
Jack Singletary then checked in for Brooks (26-8) and scored his first five points, sinking a 3-pointer and following with a steal and a fast-break basket. Canaan Sides followed with a basket, and Brooks pulled within 33-32 with 5:27 to play.
"We are going to shoot it," Wright said. "That's been our M.O. all year. We are going to live or die by the 3. We were able to cut the lead but just couldn't get over the hump."
From there, the Lions missed three straight 3-point shots, and Steele, who had all six of his rebounds on the offensive end, made back-to-back put-backs to push the Rebels' lead to 41-32.
Skyler Beck and Holden Corum sank 3s for Brooks in the final minute, and the Lions trailed 46-40 with the ball and 23 seconds to play. But a contested layup and a 3 didn't fall, and Brooks got no closer.
The Lions finished 7-of-25 from 3-point range.
"We started rushing little things," sophomore interior player Brady Bedingfield said. "We started throwing 3s up like we do sometimes, but we knew we weren't getting much inside with (Steele) down there."
Steele scored a game-high 14 points and had three blocked shots for Butler, while KJ Gosa added 11 points for the Rebels.
Brooks took a 18-17 lead into halftime as Chris Crews scored all of his team-his 10 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting.
Brooks trailed by as much as 14-8 before Crews converted a conventional 3-point play, followed with a 3-point basket and added two more baskets consecutively to put the Lions ahead 18-14.
Corum scored nine and Bedingfield added eight points for Brooks.
"We came out strong and showed how we can play, but we just couldn't quite find it at the end of the game, couldn't box out," Crews said.
"I'm proud of our team and what we did this year. We had to come together. I wouldn't trade any of these guys and I'm going to miss them."