By Derek Hendrickson
The Butte Central Maroons boys’ basketball team prevailed over the Stevensville Yellowjackets 52-46 Saturday afternoon in Southwestern A Conference action at the Maroon Activity Center.
Without taking anything away from Stevi, the Maroons definitely came out flat and struggled to find the intensity level they showed last night against Frenchtown.
Stevensville came in and played loose like a team with nothing to lose and while they never led in the game the Yellowjackets never allowed Central to feel like the game was ever in control.
Maroon head coach Brodie Kelly pointed out some of the areas his team needed to address, saying “The reality was today that we got outworked. That’s not something we ever want to accept, ever. The coaches shouldn’t accept it, the players shouldn’t accept it. These guys (Stevensville) wanted it more than us today and they played harder than us today. The only silver lining, honestly, that I can take from today’s game is that we can learn some things from a win. Usually you’ve got to lose a game to take some stuff, but our guys know we did not play good basketball today.”
The game started out like many expected as the Maroons entered at 3-0 and Stevenville came in winless at 0-5. After the teams traded buckets to start Central put in nine straight to go up 11-2. Cade Holter and Luke Heaphy did most of the damage with three point shots.
Junior guard Colby Meeds kept Stevenville close and his back-to-back drives cut the lead to 16-11 after one.
The Yellowjackets cut the lead to three on the first possession of the second when Devlin Sherman drained a jumper.
Central appeared to have the makings of a huge momentum shift after calling timeout with five minutes left and their offense stagnant.
The Maroons were setting up the offense when the ball was knocked free and what was more of a rugby scrum ensued as both teams hit the floor to gain possession. Dan McCloskey came up with the ball, fired a pass to Holter, who caught it and passed it in one motion to Heaphy for a wide open lay-in.
Holter wasn’t done as he jumped in a passing lane on the next Stevi offensive trip and went coast-to-coast for an uncontested bucket making it 20-13 just 26 seconds after the timeout.
Central was unable to build much on the lead as the Yellowjackets settled back down for the last half of the second quarter and the game went to the locker room at 26-18 Maroons.
The third quarter was basically a stalemate, which certainly favored the home team, already ahead, but the longer Stevensville hung around the more confidence they gained.
Late in the third Trevor Neumann was inserted to provide a spark, which he did, draining a three on a feed from Heaphy and Central added two to their halftime lead heading to fourth up 36-26.
The fourth quarter was the Logan Roth show as the Yellowjacket junior scored 15 of his 16 points on five three pointers, including a couple from NBA range that got Stevensville within four points in the final ninety seconds.
Heaphy and Dylan Sestrich swished six of six free throws and Aaron Richards got a wide open layup on a nice feed from Holter as Stevensville went to a full court pressure to force the action and did disrupt the Maroons, who struggled to protect the ball and watched the Yellow jackets come up with several loose balls.
“Today I didn’t think we played very well,” Kelly said in general, then specifically added, “We just got outworked and we didn’t own the loose balls that we’ve been owning the last few games.”
The Maroons were able to rebuild the lead to nine briefly but Stevensville kept working hard and missed out on a couple of opportunities, including missed free throws and an air balled three that could’ve altered the outcome in the final minute.
BC was again led by McCloskey for the second straight night, scoring 16. Dan has struggled early from the three point line, which was what initially got him varsity minutes but his willingness to stick his nose in with the big boys down low is leading to points, especially from the foul stripe.
“We didn’t play our best, we weren’t focused defensively,” McCloskey said. “It was a game we expected to win but we needed to come out with more effort and hustle and toughness.”
“I just want to win, that’s what we’ve got to win” McCloskey said about his recent scoring in the paint. “If my shot isn’t falling try to get extra rebounds and put the ball in the basket, it’s the name of the game.”
Heaphy had nine points, Richards scored seven, Holter and Sestrich both tossed in six, Neumann and Jared Simkins netted three and Matt Simkins put in a basket for two.
Richards again had a big night on the boards, pulling down 10. Holter was all over the stat sheet with six steals, three assists, three rebounds and a blocked shot which illustrates his high basketball IQ and his relentless hustle.
The Maroons pulled down 31 total rebounds with 13 coming on the offensive glass but missed several from point blank range which is a big reason that Stevensville was able to hang around.
Roth matched McCloskey for scoring honors for the game with 16 and was joined by Meeds in double digits with 14. Sherman added six but none of the other six Yellowjackets who saw the floor mustered more than three.
Stevensville will host the Maroons on Jan. 20 as Central will have a second shot at back-to-back games with Frenchtown then the Yellowjackets on the road.
Central improves to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in what promises to be a hotly contested Southwestern Conference. Stevensville fell to 0-6 and this was their first conference game.
The Maroons won’t have long to dwell on this effort as they welcome Belgrade to town Tuesday evening as the second half of a doubleheader with the ladies who also pushed their record to 4-0 at Stevensville this afternoon.
“We’ve got to be ready to play, be more focused defensively and be in a better rhythm,” McCloskey said about Tuesday night’s battle with All-State guard Dawson Fowler, a four year varsity player for Belgrade.
Central will then hit the road Friday for a huge conference game at Hamilton before taking the Christmas break.
“We’ve got a huge week coming up,” Kelly said about the upcoming games. “Our guys were not thrilled coming out of the locker room. We are not evaluating ourselves on wins and losses, we’re evaluating ourselves on how well we achieve our potential and play as well as we can and we didn’t today and if we don’t next week we are going to get beat. We play Belgrade, one of the best teams in the state and one of the top players in the state in Dawson Fowler coming here. Hamilton is extremely talented, we’ve got them on the road so we will be tested again next week for sure.”
STEVENSVILLE (0-6, 0-1) — Colby Meeds 5 4-6 14, Logan Roth 5 1-2 16, Ivan Yazvac 1 1-2 3, Kaleb Behner 1 0-0 3, Alex Gavlak 1 0-0 2, Sean Craft 1 0-0 2, Devlin Sherman 2 2-2 6. Totals 16 8-12 46.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-0, 2-0) — Jared Simkins 1 1-2 3, Luke Heaphy 2 4-4 9, Matt Simkins 1 0-0 2, Dan McCloskey 6 3-4 16, Dylan Sestrich 2 2-2 6, Cade Holter 2 1-2 6, Aaron Richards 3 1-2 7, Trevor Neumann 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 12-16 52.
Stevensville 11 7 8 20 — 46
Butte Central 16 10 10 16 — 52
3-point goals — BC 4 (Heaphy, Holter, Neumann, McCloskey), Stevi 6 (Roth 5, Behner). Fouls — BC 15, Stevi 15. Fouled out —Matt Simkins. Technicals — none. Turnovers — BC 19, Stevi 17. Rebounds — BC 31 (Richards 10), Stevi 15 (Gavlak 4). Blocks — BC 2 (Matt Simkins, Holter), Stevi 1(Craft). Assists — BC 7 (Holter 3), Stevi 5 (Roth 3).