Maroon boys sting Yellowjackets, move to 4-0

Head coach Brodie Kelly pronounced the rebuilt Butte Central Maroons boys’ basketball team progressing nicely heading into the holiday break following Saturday’s 48-40 win over Stevensville at the Maroon Activities Center.

The game began the Southwestern A Conference part of the BC schedule and the result put Butte Central at 4-0 for the season.

“I’m happy with the team, so far,” said Kelly, who saw only three players, none of them starters, return from last year’s state tournament semifinalist. “We have things we have to improve — like where we swing the ball (on offense) and on where our shots are coming from. Anticipation is the key (offensively and defensively).”

Kelly said the Maroons will also be using the break to develop their bench a little more. Only seven players got into Saturday’s game for BC, and still seemed to wear down Stevensville, which also used just two reserves.

“One of our goals is to get somebody into the eighth spot,” the coach said. “That’s on me, too. I have to get the players time to earn it.”

The defense seemed solid. It forced 19 turnovers, including 11 steals. The floor defense offset the Yellowjackets’ height advantage. Stevensville was unable to grab any steals as Butte Central did a good job taking care of the ball in its possession-emphasis motion offense.

“Our long possessions, I think, wore them out,” Kelly said. “Guarding on offense like ours is even more tiring than running it.”

The coach said a key to a lesser-experienced team, such as the Maroons, performing such an offense is that players also have to develop patience for it and execute the extra pass. Adapting has paid off as keeping the ball made for Butte Central being whistled for only seven fouls. Therefore, Stevensville shot just five free throws, making three.

Maroon Nate McGree goes up for a shot as Stevi's Jarod Kingsbury defends. Kingsbury blocked the shot.

Maroon Nate McGree goes up for a shot as Stevi’s Jarod Kingsbury defends. Kingsbury blocked the shot.

Nate McGree scored 20 points and Cole Harper tallied 18 to pace BC with McGree tallying mostly on drives to the bucket. Harper nailed down 12 of his points on 3-point shots.

Butte Central seemed in control through the first half after gaining a 10-8 edge on a turnaround lay-in by McGree off a pass from Harper with 2 minutes, 11 seconds to go in the initial quarter. Harper added a steal-and-layup play for a 12-8 advantage at the quarter break.

The Maroons took an 18-8 command the first 3 ½ minutes of the second period as McGree scored on a drive and on two free throws, and freshman sub Cade Holter picked up a loose ball resulting from a bad Stevensville pass and took it halfcourt to the hoop.


BC freshman Cade Holter looks for a rebound between Stevi's Bryce Torrey (44) and Dalton Bragg.

BC freshman Cade Holter looks for a rebound between Stevi’s Bryce Torrey (44) and Dalton Bragg.

The Yellowjackets tightened the gap to 27-21 at halftime as James Fry connected on two 3-point attempts to keep his team in the game.

Stevensville stunned the BC crowd after intermission with a 9-0 run for a 30-27 edge, only the Yellowjackets’ second lead of the contest. Bryce Torrey’s trey with 5:13 left in the third quarter snapped a 27-all tie. Butte Central reacted by re-knotting the count on a 3-pointer by Sam Johnston and then retook the lead, 32-30, as Harper canned a short jumper. The score held to the end of the quarter.

The Maroons clinched the win with an 11-3 spree to the midway point of the fourth period. McGree notched eight of the points on four layups — a steal-and-drive, a short drive, a coast-to-coast drive off an inbounds pass and on a feed under the basket from Harper. Fatigued Stevensville’s only answer in the stanza was another 3-pointer from Fry.

“Extra passes lead to layups,” Kelly said. “And Nate is our leader on the press-breaker. He does a great job of making plays in the open court. We got a lot of turnovers — steals — and deflections, I think.”

The coach noted, too, that the contributions from everyone on the team have been important.

“Our role players are capable players, they just have roles to play,” Kelly said. “Archie (Petritz) and Cade, coming off the bench, might not be marking up the stat sheet, but they are playing scrappy for us.”

Riley Richardson scored five points for Butte Central, backing McGree and Harper in production, while Johnston hit a 3-pointer and Holter tallied on a turnover. Tanner Kump pulled down four rebounds, as did Harper. Petritz also played.

Fry led the Yellowjackets with 14 points and Torrey scored 10 to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.

The Maroons’ next game is scheduled for Jan. 2 at Hamilton. Their next home date is Jan. 9 versus Livingston. Stevensville is 2-3 for the season with the loss, 0-1 in league play. The Yellowjackets will be home against Corvallis on Tuesday.

STEVENSVILLE (2-3, 0-1) — Liam LeCoure 1-3 0-0 2, James Fry 4-9 3-4 14, Dalton Bragg 3-4 0-0 6, Jordan Thomas 3-3 0-1 6, Bryce Torrey 4-6 0-0 10, Jarod Kingsbury 1-5 0-0 2, Cody Coleman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-30 3-5 40.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-0, 1-0) — Sam Johnston 1-5 0-0 3, Nate McGree 8-14 4-4 20, Cole Harper 7-15 0-1 18, Tanner Kump 0-4 0-0 0, Riley Richardson 2-7 0-0 5, Cade Holter 1-1 0-0 2, Archie Petritz 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-47 4-5 48.
Stevensville                8          13        9          10 — 40
Butte Central            12        15        5          16 — 48
3-point goals — Stevi 5-10 (Fry 3-6, Thomas 0-1, Torrey 2-2, Kingsbury 0-1), BC 6-16 (Johnston 1-2, McGree 0-1, Harper 4-8, Kump 0-2, Richardson 1-3). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Stevi 15, BC 7. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Stevi 23 (Torrey 9), BC 22 (Harper 4, Kump 4). Blocks — Stevi 4 (LeCoure 1, Torrey 1, Kingsbury 1, Coleman 1), BC 1 (McGree). Assists — Stevi 10 (LeCoure 3, Fry 3), BC 9 (McGree 3). Steals — Stevi 0, BC 11 (Harper 4). Turnovers — Stevi 19, BC 7.

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