By Derek Hendrickson
ANACONDA — The Butte Central Maroons put in a workman-like effort Saturday evening to cap a successful regular season with a 61-48 win over the Anaconda Copperheads in Southwestern A action.
Dalton Sessions led the Maroons with 16 points, scoring in all four quarters to help Central finish with a 15-3 overall mark and 8-2 in the conference.
Sessions, as is his custom, gave all praise to those playing around him. When asked about his several driving layups he said, “My teammates, they were good passes, they were just finding me.”
Senior point guard Kale Guldseth also cracked double figures in his final trip to the Snake Pit, scoring 11 points. Six of those came on steals in his match up with sophomore guard Caleb Stetzner, which resulted in breakaway layups.
Guldseth spoke about his battle with the Copperheads young point guard after the game, saying, “He’s young, but he’s a force and he can handle the ball. I tried to take advantage of the times I saw the ball come out and did my best to capitalize on them.”
Stetzner scored a game high 18 points, including the first five of the game. Cody Forkan also pitched in a 3 to kick things off and staked the Copperheads to a quick 8-0 lead playing in front of a large crowd on senior parent night.
The Maroons responded by scoring 15 of the next 17 points to end the first, including 6 by Guldseth and four by Sessions to take a 17-10 lead after one.
In the waning seconds of the first, a foul was called against the Maroons that initially was signaled a 2 shot foul but was changed and the Copperheads were forced to inbounds with .7 seconds left. After Anaconda couldn’t connect on a last second shot Head Coach Bill Hill took exception with the ruling and picked up a technical foul.
Danny Peoples calmly stepped up and drilled both free throws and sophomore Cal Hollow canned a 3 that put the Maroons up 22-10, putting the exclamation point on a 22-2 run.
The Maroons took a 28-19 lead into the break and built upon their edge with a 20 point third quarter that saw Nate Bolstad register all 9 of his points.
Central couldn’t pull away, however, as the Copperheads got 9 points from Stetzner in the third and then outscored the Maroons 15-13 in the final frame. Anaconda played a much better than an early season game that was won 73-41 by BC in Butte on December 19.
BC Head Coach Brodie Kelly talked about the regular season finale in the locker room, saying “I thought it was a pretty steady performance. Offensively I thought we were pretty consistent getting some inside touches. Defensively was pretty good, they shot a high percentage. They made some shots late in the game to kinda keep the score close, but overall we did a pretty good job taking away the options they were trying to get. I thought Stetzner played great for them, attacking and getting to the line, drawing a lot of contact. I thought our bench played well, between Dylan (Goodell), Danny, Dalton and Cal.
The Maroons had contributions from everyone who got in the game. Marcus Ferriter scored 8, Goodell added 6, Peoples had 5 along with 3 apiece from Hollow and Chad Peterson. Connor McGree didn’t score but started and gave the Maroons his usual defensive effort.
With the regular season over, both clubs will look forward to the divisional tournament, which starts Thursday at the Maroon Activities Center. Anaconda enters as the sixth seed according to the brackets that were released this evening and will take on Stevensville in a rematch of a game played Tuesday in Anaconda that the Yellowjackets won 63-40 before defeating Dillon Friday night. The winner will advance to a semifinal contest against the Maroons, who swept all four games against Anaconda and Stevi.
All of the Maroons interviewed after the win spoke about the upcoming playoffs. Sessions said, “I think it’s good to go into Divisionals playing well. At Divisionals it’s a fresh start.”
Guldseth talked about the home-court advantage and his last weekend playing in his home arena, saying, “We’re excited, obviously, to have it at the MAC and to play in front of our fans. Get a few more games in that place and maybe make a little run.”
Coach Kelly has seen the Maroons recent stretch of the schedule as gearing his team up for Divisionals. He talked about his team’s progress, saying, “We’ve only had a couple games the few weeks, we spent a lot of time practicing and I think we’ve had some really good practices. We’ve gotten a lot better and solidified our rotation for tournament time. It’s gonna be a battle no question.”
BUTTE CENTRAL (15-3, 8-2)
Kale Guldseth 4 2-3 11, Danny Peoples 1 2-2 5, Dylan Goodell 3 0-0 6, Marcus Ferriter 4 0-0 8, Nate Bolstad 2 3-4 9, Cal Hollow 1 0-0 3, Connor McGree 0 0-1 0, Chad Peterson 1 0-0 3, Dalton Sessions 7 1-3 16. Totals 23 8-14 61.
ANACONDA (4-14, 1-9)
Caleb Stetzner 4 9-9 18, Dennis Stanberry 3 0-0 9, Jackson Wagner 1 1-1 3, Brandon Fode 1 2-3 4, Drew Conrady 4 0-0 10, Ethan Blume 0 1-4 1, Cody Forkan 1 0-0 3. Totals 14 13-17 48.
Central 17 11 20 13 — 61
Anaconda 10 9 14 15 — 48
3-point goals — Anaconda 7 (Stanberry 3, Conrady 2, Stetzner, Forkan), BC 7 (Bolstad 2, Guldseth, Peoples, Hollow, Sessions, Peterson). Turnovers — Anaconda 9, BC 7. Fouls — Anaconda 17, BC 15. Fouled out — Stanberry. Technicals — Hill, Stanberry.