Sometimes the way to victory is through defeat. A case in point is the Butte High Lady Bulldogs. Last night, they got beat by Bozeman 45-32. It snapped a twelve-game winning streak that included a victory over the Hawks.
If you look back in time some of the best teams in the history of high school basketball in Butte suffered a key loss right before tournament time. It is especially true for state champions in this town.
Its remarkable to look back and see that eight of the last ten state championship basketball teams lost a key game less than two weeks prior to the state tournament.
Two years ago, the Butte Central Lady Maroons won their first state championship in 29 years. Yet, few people remember that two weeks before they hoisted the first place trophy the Maroons got dumped by Belgrade 46-40. It was a game when the Lady Maroons did not play well and still had a chance to win right at the end.
In 1992, two weeks before the Maroons’ boys won it all they got blasted by Browning 76-66.
Both 1984 boys’ teams that took the state crown in back-to-back weekends lost just before the state tournament. The Maroons fell to Hamilton 65-51 while the Bulldogs got beat by Great Falls 58-48 in the divisional tournament final.
The 1978 Butte Central Maroons led by Coach John Thatcher lost two Dillon 57-54 two weeks before the state tournament.
The 1958 Butte High Bulldogs lost their last two regular season games to Kalispell 57-55 and Anaconda 52-48 before turning golden for the state tournament.
The 1957 Bulldogs’ club lost to Butte Central in the last regular season game 57-48 before turning it all around to capture the state title.
The Butte Central Maroons of 1956 lost to Anaconda 52-50 in the divisional tournament before coming back to beat the Copperheads the next week 54-50 in the state title game.
The 1950 state title team from Butte Central lost to Kalispell 52-50 in the divisional title Game only to come back the next week to win the state finals in Anaconda.
The only two state title teams that did not fit this pattern of losing right before winning the state championship were the 1981 and 1982 Lady Maroons of Butte Central. Both those teams suffered an early lose in the season and never looked back. In fact, the 1982 Maroons lost their first game of the year to Missoula Big Sky and then won 23 straight games. Both 1981 and 1982 teams finished 23-1.
So history says the loss last night by the Lady Bulldogs might not be so bad. It helps renew the focus and hopefully that might translate into a state championship. History indicates that just might be the case in 2013.