By Bill Foley
Stevensville coach Clayton Curley said it a handful of times.
“Too easy,” the coach yelled out to his boys’ basketball team Saturday at the Maroon Activities Center. “That’s too easy.”
The coach was talking about Butte Central baskets. They came as fast an as furious as the BC defense was smothering, and the unbeaten Maroons rolled to a 58-28 Southwestern A victory.
Just as the Yellowjacket coach said, the win appeared to be an easy one.
Over an 8 minute stretch from the start of the second quarter into the third, Butte Central outscored the Yellowjackets 24-2.
Nobody plays better defense for the Maroons than junior Kyle Holter, who racked up a handful of steals that lead to transition buckets for BC.
“We were anticipating on defense and got easy run outs,” Holter said. “It helps us score and get easy buckets.”
Holter was one of three Maroons with four assists as BC tallied 14 dimes as a team. He said that was a result of some good old-fashioned scouting.
“We scouted them pretty good,” Holter said. “Our scout team ran through their offense pretty good.
“It’s just anticipating. That’s all it is, really.”
Butte Central never trailed. Eric Loos fed junior Dougie Peoples for a deep 3-pointer to open the game. Loos followed with a bucket off a Holter pass, and the rout was one.
Central led 15-7 after the first quarter and 29-9 at halftime. The Maroons scored six quick points in transition in the final 32 seconds of the half.
The Maroons crushed any Stevi comeback hopes by scoring the first 10 points of the second half. BC outscored the Yellowjackets 20-7 in the third quarter.
“Our third quarter offense was really good,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said. “We had some good ball movement and some good decisions.”
Kelly pointed out that the Yellowjackets, who fell to 0-9 and 0-5, provided a unique challenge to the BC defense.
“It was different action today,” Kelly said. “Most teams we are playing are trying to beat you with ball screens and penetration. This stuff was kind of an old-school flex off-ball movement. So, it took us a while to anticipate better.”
Once the Maroons got that anticipation down, it was game over.
Peoples scored a game-high 22 points in the win. That brought his season average to 20.1 points per game.
“Dougie is just a great player,” Holter said.
Loos scored 16 points in the win. He also joined Holter and senior Drew Badovinac with four assists.
Lorenzo Grazzani and Tad Tackes each scored eight points to lead the Yellowjackets.
Holter and Gage Guldseth each scored six points, George Riojas and Jack Keeley each tossed in three, and Badovinac scored two. Zane Moodry and Riley Gelling also contributed in the win.
Keeley, a sophomore, started in place of senior guard Bryson Sestrich, who sat out his second game with a torn ligament in his thumb. Sestrich said he is hoping to be cleared to return to practice on Monday.
BC also played without key senior reserve Joseph Sehulster.
While things appeared to be clicking good, Kelly said the Maroons have been “hanging on by a thread” the last few weeks. Holter has sprained both ankles, Sestrich has the thumb injury, and several players have missed time with illness.
Central also missed two games over the last two weeks. A home game with Livingston had to be rescheduled because of the winter storm last week. On Thursday, BC’s game at Anaconda was postponed because of COVID-19 in the Copperhead program.
Still, the Maroons find themselves unbeaten as they look to games with Dillon and Hamilton next week. BC heads to Dillon on Thursday, and the Broncs come to town Saturday.
Both games will be part of a doubleheader with the Central girls.
Holter said the Maroons are feeling pretty good, “I think we’re good,” Holter said. “We’ve got some great players. Dougie is a great scorer. We’ve got Loos as the big man. Our offense is clicking. We’ve got to keep this momentum going through the next couple of games.”
STEVENSVILLE (0-9, 0-5) — Cole Olson 2 0-0 2, Gracen Trevino 1 1-2 3, Lorenzo Grazzani 4 0-1 8, Hunter Gum 1 0-0 2, Kellan Beller 2 0-0 5, Tad Tackes 3 0-0 8, T.J. Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 1-3 28.
BUTTE CENTRAL (8-0, 5-0) — Jack Keeley 1 0-0 3, Drew Badovinac 1 0-0 2, Dougie Peoples 8 4-4 22, Kyle Holter 3 0-0 6, Eric Loos 7 1-1 16, Zen Moodry 0 0-0 0, Gage Guldseth 3 0-0 6, George Riojas 1 0-0 3, Riley Gelling 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 5-5 58.
Stevensville 7 2 7 12 — 28
Butte Central 15 14 20 9 — 58
3-point goals — Stevi 3 (Tackes 2, Bellar 1), BC 5 (Peoples 2, Keeley 1, Loos 1, Riojas 1). Fouls — Stevi 9, BC 7. Fouled out — none. Technical — Stevi bench.