By Bill Foley
The over-achieving season came to an end for the Butte Central girls’ basketball team Friday morning.
Fittingly, the Maroons went down fighting.
Browning led wire to wire and beat Butte Central 52-42 in a loser-out game of the Class A State tournament at the Four Seasons Arena. (Stats)
(Note: the stat sheet is off because of a computer malfunction in the first quarter.)
BC coach Meg Murphy, who led the Maroons to state for the eighth time since 2010 and the fifth year in a row, praised her team following the loss that closed the book on an 11-15 season.
The Maroons were expected to win a couple of games — at most — when the season began with 13 players and a lopsided loss to Columbia Falls.
The BC players ended the campaign with a Southwestern A District championship trophy and a special place in their coach’s heart.
“We represented our conference well, making a showing,” Murphy said. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Taylor Jordan scored 1 minute, 7 seconds into the game to put Browning on top at 2-0, and Butte Central never led.
The Maroons trailed 10-7 after one quarter and 26-15 at the half. After trailing 40-29 after three, BC outscored the Indians 13-12 in the final frame.
That BC didn’t quit until the final buzzer followed a pattern for the 2018-19 Maroons.
“They never ever quit, and that’s what I told them,” Murphy said following a long post-game talk with her team. “I said, ‘You never laid down in any game we played. Never, ever. You always battled.’ They gave me everything they had. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
“It’s not always about winning or losing,” the coach said. “It’s about the relationships we develop. I’m proud of them. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Cha’slin Kipp scored 14 points to lead the Indians, who saw nine players dent the score book. Jordan finished with eight points, while Dulci Skunkcap and Tatum Running Crane each tossed in six.
Freshman Sofee Thatcher scored 13 points to lead the Maroons. She was joined in double figures by senior Tricia Joyce, who scored eight of her 11 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Amira Bolton had one of her best games of the season, scoring nine points. Emma Keeley scored four, and Taylor Harrington tossed in five.
Avery Kelly, Delaney Hasquet, Bella Sorini, Shea Davis, and Maddie Kump also contributed for BC. Freshmen Payton Hartwick and Brenna Foley also saw time in the game.
Freshman Rileigh McGree, who suited up in Thursday’s loss to Billings Central, was the alternate on Friday.
The game was the final in a BC uniform for three seniors — Joyce, Sorini and Davis.
Sorini overcame a long list of injuries to be a factor for the Maroons down the stretch, while Davis went out for the team because BC needed bodies.
Joyce, of course, had an All-State worthy season that came after she signed to play golf for the University of Montana.
“She’s amazing,” Murphy said of Joyce, who is the ultimate competitor. “I said to her, ‘I can’t wait to watch you play on the LPGA.’ She goes, ‘I have tennis first.’”
Murphy said she is going to miss all three seniors. She will also hold them in high esteem for years to come.
“They’ve been to the state tournament four years in a row,” Murphy said. “Not a lot of people can say that.”
Browning (18-7) advances to Saturday’s loser-out round.