By Bruce Sayler
A solid effort from the full roster is probably what pleased head coach Meg Murphy the most.
She guided Butte Central to a 56-30 Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ basketball victory Saturday less than 24 hours after the Maroons suffered their first loss of the season.
Stevensville had nothing to do with BC’s outcome Friday, but the Yellowjackets were the ones who paid for it on Saturday.
“I thought we didn’t play well 12 of the 16 minutes of the second half yesterday,” Murphy said in the Maroon Activities Center hallway after the game Saturday. “It (the 40-32 loss at Frenchtown Friday) was disappointing.
“So, it was a nice bounce-back today from our girls. We came in this morning and tried to some different defenses and different things to move Avery Kelly around a little bit. She’d been getting into foul trouble early and that wasn’t helping our cause.”
So, Kelly got to stay on the court a little more, bringing her leaping ability and defense to goal protection as the Butte Central defense held Stevensville to 25 percent shooting, 10-for-40, from the field.
The Maroons struggled with the Yellowjackets only at the very start of the contest. Stevensville senior Kennedy Praast scored the first four points of the game before Kelly came off the bench and put BC on the scoreboard with a layup. It was the result of a pass from Delaney Hasquet.
Sofee Thatcher’s 3-pointer put Butte Central ahead 5-4. However, Stevensville was pesky and Kelti Wandler traded buckets with Thatcher before the Yellowjackets led one more time. Maliyah LeCoure drilled her first of four 3-point baskets for a 9-7 Stevensville edge. The Maroons, though, closed the first period on a 6-0 run as Thatcher, Hasquet and Kelly all scored baskets.
The surge resumed in the second quarter as BC reeled off six more in a row to run the spree to 12-0. Amira Bolton tallied off an inbound pass and Brooke Badovinac netted four free throws to account for it. The run was interrupted by a basket from Yellowjacket Shilo Lamp before Butte Central tallied yet another 6-0 surge for an overall 18-2 run since the 3-minute, 15-second mark of the first quarter. The latest half-dozen came on three foul shots Badovinac made and a Hasquet 3-pointer.
Stevensville responded with a 7-0 surge, but trailed the Maroons 27-18 at halftime.
“Sofee did a great job today,” Murphy said. “And, we let Delaney fly around a little bit and she got some jumpers. (Maddie) Kump hit a couple of jumpers from the outside.
“(Taylor) Harrington and Bolton don’t score a lot, but they do a lot of good things for us. We’re asking Amira and Taylor to guard people who are a lot bigger than they are every game. Some think that just because they look the biggest that they are.”
Both are seniors with Harrington being BC’s tallest player and 5-foot-10 and Bolton standing 5-7.
Butte Central built on its lead through the third quarter and playing the Yellowjackets into critical foul trouble. Stevensville lost key defender Claire Hutchison to her fifth foul at 4:24 of the third frame while the Maroons were on a 9-3 spree.
The BC lead was 42-28 going into the last quarter. Butte Central scored the first 10 points of the final period and outscored the visitors 14-2 in the quarter to lock the win away. The Yellowjackets’ only points were a Lampi basket with 2:03 left. LeCoure fouled out at 5:29 of the fourth frame. She had scored a team-high 17 points.
“Stevensville is a good team,” Murphy said. “They’re in every game they play. So, this was good for us because you want to get at least a split every weekend and win every game at home.
‘We didn’t have 23 turnovers like we did last night.”
The Maroons had 16, but forced Stevensville into 28. Notably, 14 of the Yellowjackets’ turnovers were Maroons’ steals.
Thatcher led BC with 17 points and Badovinac tallied 11. Hasquet chipped in with nine while Kelly had eight points, Kump seven and Bolton four. Harrington, Ella Moodry, Brenna Foley and Payton Hartwick also played. Thatcher led the team on the boards with eight rebounds, Kump blocked two shots, Badovinac dished four assists and Kelly came up with five steals to highlight the stat leaders. Butte Central is now 4-1 for the season, 2-1 in conference play. The Maroons face a tough slate coming up with a non-conference game at Class B contender Manhattan on Thursday, then home against Hamilton next Saturday, then playing three games the following week – at Dillon on February 1, home against Anaconda on February 4 and home against Dillon February 6.
Stevensville, now 1-4 overall and 0-3 in Southwestern A play, outrebounded Butte Central 35-28 as the 5-11 Lampi came off the bench to collect seven caroms. LeCoure was the only Yellowjacket to score in double figures with her 14 points. Praast was next-high with seven.
STEVENSVILLE (1-4, 0-3) – Maddie Sims 1-3 0-0 3, Kelti Wandler 1-6 0-0 2, Maliyah LeCoure 4-12 2-4 14, Claire Hutchison 0-3 0-0 0, Kennedy Praast 2-5 3-4 7, Shilo Lampi 2-5 0-0 4, Victoria Uskoski 0-3 0-0 0, Hailey Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Cambree Praast 0-2 0-0 0, Alivia McCormick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-40 5-8 30.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-1, 2-1) – Sofee Thatcher 6-12 4-7 17, Amira Bolton 1-5 2-2 4, Maddie Kump 2-4 1-2 7, Taylor Harrington 0-1 0-0 0, Delaney Hasquet 4-8 0-1 9, Brooke Badovinac 2-5 7-8 11, Avery Kelly 4-7 0-0 8, Ella Moodry 0-1 0-0 0, Brenna Foley 0-0 0-0 0, Payton Hartwick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 14-20 56.
Stevensville 9 9 10 2 – 30
Butte Central 13 14 15 14 – 56
3-point goals – Stevi 5-16 (Wandler 0-1, LeCoure 4-10, K. Praast 0-2, Uskoski 0-2, C. Praast 0-1), BC 4-13 (Bolton 0-1, Hasquet 1-4, Kump 2-3, Thatcher 1-3, Badovinac 0-1, Kelly 0-1). Fouled out – Hutchison, LeCoure. Total fouls – Stevi 17, BC 10. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Stevi 35 (Lampi 7), BC 28 (Thatcher 8). Blocks – Stevi 0, BC 4 (Kump 2). Assists – Stevi 8 (Hutchison 3), BC 14 (Badovinac 4). Steals – Stevi 7 (LeCoure 3), BC 18 (Kelly 5, Moodry 3, Badovinac 3). Turnovers – Stevi 28, BC 16.