By Bill Foley
The Maroons lost a point by an eyelash Tuesday night.
It really was that close as Anaconda’s girls’ basketball team escaped the Maroon Activities Center with a 46-45 non-conference victory over Butte Central.
Officials ruled that the buzzer sounded just before Tricia Joyce was fouled on a game-winning 3-point attempt in the corner by the BC bench.
The Maroons argued that Joyce, who hit two of her four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, should have been sent to the free throw line after BC inbounded the ball with six 10ths of a second on the clock.
“She got it off,” BC coach Meg Murphy said. “She got it off before the buzzer went.”
Of course, coaches don’t get to make that call, and BC fell just short of winning its third game in five nights.
“We came out with a lack of energy today,” Murphy said. “Maybe that’s the number of games. Trying to get back in shape is a big thing for us. I noticed we didn’t have legs, and being able to press is something that we rely upon.”
Those tired legs definitely came into play as the Copperheads opened the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run to take the lead for good.
That run turned a 34-30 Butte Central lead into a 43-37 Copperhead advantage.
Central’s three points came on a 3-pointer by Joyce that stopped a 6-0 Copperhead streak and put BC back on top 37-36.
A moment later, Megan Reich sank a 3-pointer to put the Copperheads up for good at 39-37 with 4 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game.
Anaconda stretched the lead to six points twice, only to see BC cut it back down with a 3-pointer from Sofee Thatcher and Joyce.
Thatcher, a freshman who scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, drove and made a nice move to cut the lead to 46-45 with 25 seconds left.
That 25 seconds lasted several minutes, included four timeouts, a few quick possession changes and three Anaconda fouls before it ended in the corner with a no call.
The Maroons regained possession for a final time, and timeout was called with 12.8 second left. BC got the ball in and called timeout with 8.9 ticks. The Copperheads, who entered the final seconds with just four team fouls in the half, smartly fouled with 3.2 seconds and then .6 seconds left to keep the Maroons from running a play.
One of the biggest plays of the game came before all the drama. BC’s Maddie Kump scored on a nice baseline move to tie the game at 5 late in the first quarter. When she came down, Kump turned her ankle, forcing her to the bench.
Kump returned to the game, but Murphy pulled her back out because it was clear her sophomore was in pain.
“Maddie Kump getting hurt didn’t help us,” Murphy said. “She usually hits a couple of shots for us, and her getting hurt early didn’t help us a lot.”
“You could see it was bothering her a little bit,” the coach said. “We have a big game Saturday (against Corvallis), and utilizing her Saturday is more important than today.”
The first quarter ended with the game tied at 8, and the Copperheads took a 22-16 lead late in the second quarter.
Emma Keeley hit a pair of free throws before Joyce sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 22-21 at the break.
Thatcher started the third game on fire. She hit a 3-pointer 7 seconds into the frame to put the Maroons on top 24-22. She also hit a bucket on a foul, but missed the and-one, sank two free throws and buried another three in an 11-4 run that gave the Maroons a 32-26 lead.
The Copperheads, though, closed the third quarter with a baseline jumper by Isabel Saltenberger and a putback by Claire Miller to cut the lead to 32-30.
Thatcher connected again early in the fourth quarter for a 34-30 lead. Kora Kelly scored 39 seconds later on the other end. The bucket was the beginning of the Copperhead 13-3 run.
The 21 points was the best of Thatcher’s young career. Joyce followed with 12 points — all from behind the 3-point line.
“Her and Tricia Joyce, you can’t ask for more than I’m getting out of them,” Murphy said.
Keeley scored six, Kump tossed in four, and Bella Sorini, still limited with a leg injury, tossed in two.
“Bella Sorini played good for the minutes that she played for us,” Murphy said of the senior, who is expected to see more and more time as the season goes on. “You can definitely tell that’s going to help us down the stretch.”
Shea Davis, Amira Bolton and Delaney Hasquet also contributed for the Maroons, who fell to 3-6 on the season.
Saltenberger and Logan Stetzner each scored 10 for the Copperheads, who improved to 3-6. Arieona Mattson added seven points, while Reich and Lindsey Seitzinger each scored six. Anaconda also got three points from Alyssa Peterson and two from Miller and Kelly.
The Maroons are off until Saturday, when they play host to the Blue Devils in an afternoon Southwestern A game.
Murphy said she expects her team to show improvement at that game, which will mark the end of the first time through the conference schedule.
“Like I’ve told the kids, we’ve just got to get better each week we battle,” Murphy said. “We’ve just got to battle.”
ANACONDA (3-6) — Claier Miller 2 0-0 3, Lindsey Seitzinger 3 0-0 6, Arieona Mattson 3 1-2 7,Isabel Saltenberger 3 4-6 10, Logan Stetzner 4 1-2, Megan Reich 2 1-2 6, Kora Kelly 2 0-1 2, Alyssa Peterson 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 7-13 46.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-6) — Bella Sorini 1 0-0 2, Shea Davis 0 0-0 0, Emma Keeley 0 6-8 6, Tricia Joyce 4 0-0 12, Maddie Kump 1 2-2 4, Sofee Thatcher 7 3-5 21, Amira Bolton 0 0-0 0, Avery Kelly 0 0-0 0, Delaney Hasquet 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 11-15 45.
Anaconda 8 14 8 16 — 46
Butte Central 8 13 11 13 — 45
3-point goals — Anaconda 3 (Reich Stetzner, Peterson), BC 8 (Joyce 4, Thatcher 4). Fouls — Anaconda 13, BC 12. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.