By Bruce Sayler
Now versus future collided in the Maroon Activities Center Thursday night and, for the moment, now won.
Butte Central, saying goodbye to five seniors, rallied past Anaconda and its star freshman for a 53-48 non-conference high school girls’ basketball win.
The performance was, perhaps, the Maroons’ most balanced of the year with Delaney Hasquet scoring 14 points — all after halftime — and Amira Bolton and Sofee Thatcher each tallying 11. Also, Taylor Harrington pulled down seven rebounds, Thatcher gathered six and Bolton corralled 11. Maddi Kump came up with three steals and three assists to go with her six points. Thatcher dished six assists, and she and Avery Kelly each blocked an Anacondan’s shot.
Their efforts offset 11 points, 15 rebounds, a block and three assists by 5-foot-7 Copperhead freshman Makena Patrick. Senior Mia Sullivan-Sanders led Anaconda with 19 points in a game that saw seven lead changes and five draws. It was a neighborhood feud renewal of basketball rivals matching Southwestern A Conference leader Butte Central and against strong Western B contender Anaconda.
The upper hand was slight for the length, but the Copperheads enjoyed it early. Patrick’s six rebounds and six points gave Anaconda an 8-7 edge after one quarter. She fed Kora Kelly for a short jumper late in the second quarter and the play sent the teams to the halftime locker room with the Copperheads leading, 18-16.
The Maroons took over in the third period. Their 6-0 run at the end of the quarter on two free throws each by Brooke Badovinac and Hasquet, and a jumper by Kump gave them a 35-31 edge heading into the last frame. Two free throws from Thatcher and then a layup by Hasquet off a Thatcher pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter extended the run. The Copperheads never caught up.
The slower BC start has become too typical for Butte Central this season, even though the Maroons are enjoying a now 8-1 season.
“They’re playing hard and that’s all you can ask,” head coach Meg Murphy said. “But, they get so intense that they sometimes forget to play the game and have some fun. I had to try to play comedian tonight and they weren’t buying it.”
The Senior Parents Night emotions played into the intensity, too, the coach said as she was among those wistfully thanking and honoring Avery Kelly, Bolton, Hasquet, Kump and Harrington and their parents. The five seniors were Murphy’s starting lineup for this game.
“Anaconda is a good team with athletic kids,” Murphy said. “They play as well as anybody in our conference, I think. So (the rivalry of) playing (the Copperheads), and the emotions of Senior Parents Night – we got through it. I was expecting a slow start and hoping for a big win.”
Anaconda was none too anxious to jump on the bus and head west on I-90, not without putting up a formidable accounting.
The 10-point run Butte Central strung into the early part of the fourth quarter was met by the Copperheads in challenge. They chipped away at what had been an eight-point deficit and found themselves trailing by only two points, 45-43, after a pair of Sullivan-Sanders baskets, and with 2 minutes, 14 seconds still left on the clock.
The Maroons built the difference back up on two Thatcher foul shots, one by Badovinac and a Hasquet pullup jumper. Sami Johnson looped in a 3-point basket for the Copperheads to continue their threat. Charity tosses converted by Bolton and Kump in the last 25 seconds assured the BC win.
A busy and difficult stretch of games for Butte Central saw the Maroons top Class B contender Manhattan and Southwestern A Conference foe Hamilton last week, then league and area rival Dillon on Monday before the clash with Anaconda. A return bout with Dillon is slated for Saturday at the MAC. Murphy said the games are cutting into needed practice time, but …
“There are things we really need to work on,” the coach said, “but – A, we can’t practice, and, B, we 1-and-8 at this time last year. I’ll take 8-1. I think our defense has been our strength. It has had to adjust to playing a lot of different defenses.
“And, we are pretty even – we don’t have the stellar standout that other teams have to defend. They can try to focus on Sofee, but then we have the other players who can score.
Badovinac finished with seven points, Kump with six and Kelly with four.
Kora Kelly had six points for Anaconda to back Sullivan-Sanders and Patrick. Johnson had five points, Alyssa Peterson four and Megan Reich three. Johnson led all ball-hawks with five steals. Sanders-Sullivan ripped down 10 boards to support Patrick in rebounding, an area where their team topped Butte Central 43-32. The Copperheads have a 5-3 season record.
“Our conference is pretty balanced,” Murphy said with thoughts turning to the Maroons’ coming game with Dillon. “So, Saturday’s game is a big game.”
ANACONDA (5-3) — Mia Sullivan-Sanders 8-17 3-7 19, Sami Johnson 2-7 0-0 5, Megan Reich 1-12 0-0 3, Makena Patrick 3-6 5-6 11, Alyssa Peterson 0-9 4-4 4, Kora Kelly 3-5 0-0 6, Maniyah Lunceford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-57 12-17 48.
BUTTE CENTRAL (8-1) — Delaney Hasquet 5-9 3-4 14, Maddi Kump 2-6 2-4 6, Amira Bolton 3-6 5=6 11. Taylor Harrington 0-0 0-0 0, Avery Kelly 2-4 0-2 4, Sofee Thatcher 3-8 4-4 11, Brooke Badovinac 1-3 5-6 7. Totals 16-36 19-26 53.
Anaconda 8 10 13 17 — 48
Butte Central 7 9 19 18 — 53
3-point goals – Anaconda 2-14 (Sullivan-Sanders 0-1, Johnson 1-2, Reich 1-6, Patrick 0-1, Peterson 0-3, K. Kelly 0-1), BC 2-12 (Bolton 0-1, Hasquet 1-4, Kump 0-2, Thatcher 1-3, Badovinac 0-2. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Anaconda 18, BC 13. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Anaconda 43 (Patrick 15, Sullivan-Sanders 10), BC 32 (Harrington 7). Blocks – Anaconda 2 (Sullivan=Sanders 1, Patrick 1), BC 2 (A. Kelly 1, Thatcher 1). Assists – Anaconda 8 (Patrick 3), BC 11 Thatcher 6, Kump 3). Steals – Anaconda 12 (Johnson 5), BC 11 (Kump 3). Turnovers – Anaconda 19, BC 15