By Bruce Sayler
Hot-and-cold might not have a better display of the diversity than Tuesday night’s Helena Capit6al 63-34 boys’ basketball victory over Butte High.
The Bruins put four players in double figures and filled the Butte Civic Center hoops at a 60 percent success rate from the field. Butte High, though, was cold. The Bulldogs made only 36 percent of their shots in the Class AA non-conference hoops tilt.
Butte High head coach Luke Powers said it wasn’t that simple.
“We gave them momentum at the beginning of the game,” he said. “We let them outhustle us, all the loose balls, we were outplayed and we sure as hell were outcoached.”
Powers said he had prepared his team for Capital’s 2-1-2 defense, but the Bruins surprised them with a press and a zone. The change set the Bulldogs back on their heels and Capital extended its zone to cover Butte High shooting star Clay Ferguson deep.
The counter from the high post the Bulldogs attempted fell unsuccessfully due to being unable to convert the open shot from the top of the key, the coach noted.
“They made us play slow and we’re not comfortable playing slow,” Powers said.
Capital busted out to an 11-0 lead as Shane Haller scored on a short drive for the first bucket of the game, and then Trevor Swanson drilled a 3-pointer to ignite the Bruins’ explosion. Haller and Swanson scored again around a basket by Brady Martin on another drive to hoop.
Trevyn Roth netted his first of four 3-point baskets to open the Butte High side of the scoreboard and the first quarter ended in a 14-5 Capital lead.
Roth hits his second 3-pointer to start the second quarter and Kale McCarthy downed a free throw as Butte High pulled to within 14-9. The Bruins answered. Garrett Kueber, a burly 6-foot-5 senior, subbed in and scored off an inside pass from 6-4 senior Peyton Koch. The next minute saw Bridger Grovom nail a pullup jumper and Capital was back to an 18-9 advantage with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in the half.
“Give them credit,” Powers said, alluding to the Capital coaching staff headed by Guy Almquist.
A 14-5 Capital run in the last 4 minutes of the half deepened Butte High’s deficit to 36-17 at intermission. A free throw by Parker Johnston with two seconds left and then a basket laid in by Haller at the buzzer off an inbounds pass from Johnston injected momentum into the Bruins as they stampeded for the locker room.
“We broke down at the end of the first half and that was big,” Powers said. “Then, we’re in the locker room and there’s no such thing as a 17-point play. You have to go back out there and run your stuff and take your shot.”
Capital cooled off only so slightly in the second half and was able to maintain a comfortable distance over the Bulldogs.
Both junior guard Tommy Mellott and sophomore post Jake Olson were playing with four fouls late in the game. Mellott had seven assists and two points, and Olson four rebounds to match Roth for team-high on the boards. Roth’s 12 points led the scoring.
Haller had 15 points to pace Capital, which also enjoyed 12 points from Kueber, 11 from Grovom and 10 from Swanson.
“Trevyn Roth was really aggressive for us tonight,” Powers said. “We’re a better team than we showed tonight. This kids are hurting about this, right now. I don’t think we thought we’d have a game like this, and we did.”
Butte High, 1-2 this season, also received six points from McCarthy five from Dan McCloskey, three from Ferguson, and two apiece from Kash Kelly, Mellott, Olson and Billy Kelly. Jake Vetter, Michael Phillips, Ryan Burt, Aidan Lee, Cael Stenson, Zach Merrifield and Ryan Neil also played.
Ferguson suffered leg cramps, Powers said, and was helped out of the game late in the contest. The coach said Ferguson is expected to be available for Friday’s home game against Kalispell Flathead in the Civic Center and that the Bulldogs will be anxious to erase the Capital loss with a strong performance against the Braves.
HELENA CAPITAL (2-2) — Parker Johnston 1-5 3-4 5, Brady Martin 3-9 1-2 8, Bridger Grovom 4-6 1-1 11, Trevor Swanson 4-5 0-0 10, Shane Haller 7-8 1-1 15, Garrett Kueber 5-6 2-2 12, Cade Kidder 0-2 0-0 0, Peyton Koch 0-0 0-2 0, Malachi Syvrud 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Quinn 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 25-42 8-12 63.
BUTTE HIGH (1-2) — Kash Kelly 1-2 0-0 2, Tommy Mellott 1-1 0-1 2, Clay Ferguson 1-6 1-1 3, Kale McCarthy 2-7 1-2 5, Trevyn Roth 4-10 0-0 12, Jake Olson 1-1 0-0 2, Dan McCloskey 2-7 1-2 5, Billy Kelly 1-2 0-0 2, Jake Vetter 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Phillips 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Burt 0-0 0-0 0, Aidan Lee 0-0 0-2 0, Cael Stenson 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Merrifield 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Neil 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-36 4-11 34.
Capital 14 22 13 14 — 63
Butte High 5 12 7 10 — 34
3-point goals — Capital 5-11 (Johnston 0-2, Martin 1-3, Grovom 2-2, Swanson 2-3, Kidder 0-1), Butte 4-16 (K. Kelly 0-1, Ferguson 0-1, Roth 4-9, McCloskey 0-2, B. Kelly 0-1, Vetter 0-1, Phillips 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Capital 15, Butte 15. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Capital 26 (Johnston 5), Butte 17 (Roth 4, Olson 4). Blocks — Capital 1 (Johnston), Butte 1 (K. Kelly). Assists — Capital 12 (Grovom 6), Butte 9 (Mellott 7). Steals — Capital 3 (Kueber 1, Koch 1, Johnston 1), Butte 7 (McCarthy 2, Mellott 2). Turnovers — Capital 10, Butte 9.