By Bruce Sayler
The growing pains included bruises and floor burns for both the Dillon and Butte Central girls’ basketball teams Friday evening.
The two rivals are filling in many voids resulted from graduated talent departed after last season and so the play has not been necessarily smooth. But it was intense as Butte Central held on for a 34-29 Southwestern A Conference win in the Maroon Activities Center. Only nine free throws were attempted, but 50 turnovers kept the whistles blaring.
Tricia Joyce’s two free throws made with 1 minute, 3 seconds left secured the victory for Butte Central.
“Any one can you can get in this conference is a good win,” Butte Central head coach Meg Murphy remarked. “I thought our girls played hard early and did a lot of good things for us.”
The game marked a return to action for the Beavers and Maroons following the Christmas break.
Butte Central’s marked advantage was a huge 13-0 surge in the first quarter that staked them to a lead Dillon never overcame. The Beavers scored first in the game on a 3-point basket by Tylia DeJohn. The Maroons then went on their evidential run. Senior Bella Sorini, seeing her first significant action after battling two years worth of injuries, sank Butte Central’s first two points with a shot from iside to ignite the spree. Joyce nailed a 3-pointer on the next trip down and wound up with five points in the run that also included four from Emma Keeley.
The difference was 16-8 after one quarter and the Maroons opened it to 20-8 on baskets by Joyce and Keeley to begin the second period. Dillon, however, closed the half with 10 straight points, including a half-ending 3-pointer by DeJohn of a pass from Anne Larson. The comeback made it a 20-18 margin at intermission.
“At times, we played well in the first quarter, but struggled a little in the second quarter,” Murphy said. “Our goal is to get better every game. We can’t turn the ball over 25 times.
“After a break, it’s tough to play and it showed. It’s all part of the learning process.”
The Beavers tied the score on a steal-and-layup by DeJohn 13 seconds into the second half. Butte Central responded. Joyce scored another two points on her way to a game-high 15, then maneuvered a steal-and-layup of her own. Sorini closed the short burst with a foul shot and the Maroons led 25-20. The five-point gap held up to a 30-25 count heading into the last stanza.
Butte Central was able to control the ball and slow the tempo for most of the last quarter and both teams were held to four points for the period. Dillon drew to within 32-29 after another DeJohn steal-and-layup with 1:33 on the clock. However, the Beavers were in a forced-to-foul situation and Joyce meshed the clinchers.
Murphy said the big run by her team in the first quarter “was huge” and lauded the play of Joyce and cited Sorini’s time of the court as being a big part of the victory, too.
“It’s hard for Tricia when she’s played with the guards she’s played with the last three years to now be the lead player,” the coach said. “But, if she was 2 or 3 inches taller, nobody would trap her like they did tonight. Tricia was waiting too long for the trap to come and the other kids weren’t coming to her like we need them to. We’ll work on that. It’s a learning lesson.
“It was good to have Bella back for more minutes. Her basket early in the game was a big one for the team and a big one for her.”
Keeley finished with eight points to back Joyce’s 15, freshman Sofee Thatcher put in five, and Maddie Kump ad Sorini each scored three. Shea Davis, Brenna Foley, Amira Bolton, Delaney Hasquet and Taylor Harrington also played. Thatcher collected nine rebounds and dished four assists while Keeley led in steals with four. The Maroons are now 2-3 in the Southwestern A Conference and 2-5 for the season.
Dillon, 1-2 and 1-6, was led by DeJohn with 12 points, Jordyn McKay and Josey Jones with five each, Kylee Pittman with three, and Larson and Madalen Shipman with two each. Charli Hazelbaker, Ainsley Shipman, Kassidy Broere and Emily Hansen also saw action. DeJohn had four steals and five rebounds to go with her dozen points. Larson also grabbed five rebounds.
Butte Central will play Livingston on Saturday in a 4 p.m. non-conference game at the MAC. The Beavers are scheduled to be home against Stevensville on Saturday in Southwestern A play.
DILLON (1-6, 1-2) — Tylia DeJohn 5-17 0-0 12, Jordyn McKay 2-5 1-2 5, Josey Jones 2-9 0-0 5, Anne Larson 1-3 0-2 2, Kylee Pittman 1-2 0-0 3, Madalen Shipman 1-1 0-0 2, Charli Hazelbaker 0-1 0-0 0, Ainsley Shipman 0-0 0-0 0, Kassidy Broere 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Hansen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-39 1-4 29.
BUTTE CENTRAL (2-5, 2-3) — Emma Keeley 4-7 0-0 8, Maddie Kump 1-6 0-0 3, Bella Sorini 1-3 1-2 3, Shea Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Tricia Joyce 6-9 2-2 22, Sofee Thatcher 2-5 0-1 5, Brenna Foley 0-0 0-0 0, Amira Bolton 0-0 0-0 0, Delaney Hasquet 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Harrington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-31 3-5 34.
Dillon 8 10 7 4 — 29
Butte Central 16 4 10 4 — 34
3-point goals — Dillon 4-15 (DeJohn 2-8, McKay 0-1, Jones 1-4, Pittman 1-1, Hansen 0-1), BC 3-11 (Keeley 0-2, Kump 1-4, Joyce 1-3, Thatcher 1-2). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Dillon 10, BC 8. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Dillon 27 (DeJohn 5, Larson 5), BC 23 (Thatcher 9, Keeley 5). Blocks — none. Assists — Dillon 5 (Larson 2, McKay 2), BC 9 (Thatcher 4, Keeley 2, Joyce 2). Steals — Dillon 13 (DeJohn 4), BC 13 (Keeley 4). Turnovers — Dillon 23, BC 27.