By Bruce Sayler
Head coach Meg Murphy couldn’t fault the Butte Central Maroons’ eagerness.
Dillon had just beaten Butte Central 50-34 at Maroon Activities Center. The Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ basketball game was the nightcap of a doubleheader on Butte Central’s “Cancer Schmancer” night. The fundraiser is also in tribute to former Maroons’ player Mairissa Peoples, who died of cancer in March of 2014 as a 24-year-old who had been diagnosed with cancer while a Butte Central student. During her fight with the disease, Mairissa Peoples put together a scrapbook pertaining to the battle and named the book “Cancer Schmancer.”
The Maroons’ points leader Thursday night was junior guard Delaney Hasquet, who notched nine points and whose mother, DeeDee, is currently battling cancer and was recognized in the ceremony accompanying the doubleheader. Delaney Hasquet also dished five assists and grabbed two rebounds and three steals in what was possibly her best all-around game.
So, it was a night with somber moments — and inspiration.
“Our kids scrapped a lot,” Murphy said. “It is maybe a little disappointing, the result, because you always want to win. But, we’re getting better each week.”
The Maroons had the first lead. Hasquet drove the hoop for a basket not quite two minutes into the contest.
Dillon, though, the conference leader, answered with an onslaught. The Beavers ran off six straight points on the way to outscoring the Maroons 12-7 for the quarter. A basket by Ainsley Shipman gave Dillon a 12-5 command with two minutes to go in the frame and Butte Central finished the scoring for the quarter with a bucket from Emma Keeley.
The Maroons scrapped back to within two points in the second quarter, Baskets by Avery Kelly and Sofee Thatcher, off passes from Hasquet, cut the difference to 16-14 with 3:24 to go in the half.
Dillon, however, notched the last nine points of the half, including the first of three 3-pointers by Josey Jones, and owned a 25-14 command at intermission.
“I keep thinking that the shooting gods are going to smile on us and everybody’s going to shoot well at the same time,” Murphy mused. “We had a couple of bad breaks, too — balls bouncing off our legs and stuff like that.”
“Then, Dillon’s a good team. Josey Jones is that player, if you’re her coach, you want to give the ball to. I thought we were a little lackadaisical late in the second quarter and the kids did some things that put us further behind.”
Jones and Kylee Pittman drilled consecutive 3-pointers for Dillon to launch the second half and the Beavers’ run had grown to 13-0 over two frames. Butte Central broke the scoring streak when Maddie Kump netted a 3-pointer with 5:33 left in the third quarter. It ignited a mini-run. Keeley hit on a shot after a pass from Thatcher, then freshman sub Brooke Badovinac dropped in two free throws.
Dillon held a 37-26 lead through three quarters.
The Maroons chopped it to 37-31 as Badovinac buried a 3-pointer to start the fourth stanza, then Hasquet caged two foul shots.
Pittman answered with a 3-pointer and Hasquet downed two more charity tosses.
The Beavers, though, put together the clinching run, a 10-0 spree over the next four minutes. Jones meshed her last 3-pointer, Madalen Shipman worked a steal for a layup and then Jones scored on a drive. The surge finished on free throws by Pittman and Ainsley Shipman. The eruption made the score 50-33 with less than a minute to play.
Butte Central was again without junior starter Amira Bolton, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury. Murphy said the player’s return should be soon.
The coach acknowledged that the Maroons “always scrap and play hard” and also agreed that “they try and get a little out of control” sometimes, but can’t help but like the aggression and desire to improve.
“They came out and did what we asked of them, too,” Murphy said with a shrug. “They’ve been doing that all year.”
“We’ll keep working to get better and maybe good things can happen for us in the play-in game.”
The play-in game will come in the postseason when the Maroons will need to win a game to advance to the Western A Divisional tournament. First, however, are regular-season games against Livingston on Saturday and Corvallis on February 15. Both will be played at the MAC.
Jones led Dillon with 13 points, Pittman tallied 11 and Madalen Shipman 10 as the Beavers improved their records to 10-2 overall, 7-0 in conference. Ainsley Shipman, a 5-6 sophomore, played a strong all-around game for Dillon with eight points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and a steal.
The Maroons, 1-15 and 0-9, got seven points each from Keeley and Badovinac in support of Hasquet’s scoring. Thatcher finished with five points, Kump three, Kelly two and Breann Williamson one. Taylor Harrington and Payton Hartwick also played.
DILLON (10-2, 7-0) — Tylia DeJohn 4-6 0-0 8, Ainsley Shipman 3-8 2-4 8, Josey Jones 5-7 0-1 13, Kylee Pittman 3-5 3-3 11, Madalen Shipman 4-5 2-4 10, Abby Brevig 0-1 0-0 0, Lauryn Peterson 0-2 0-0 0, Jordyn Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Kassidy Broere 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Hansen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-34 7-12 50.
BUTTE CENTRAL (1-15, 0-9) — Delaney Hasquet 2-6 4-4 9, Sofee Thatcher 2-7 0-0 5, Maddie Kump 1-6 0-0 3, Taylor Harrington 0-1 0-0 0, Emma Keeley 2-6 3-4 7, Brooke Badovinac 2-11 2-2 7, Avery Kelly 1-4 0-0 2, Breann Williamson 0-0 1-2 1, Payton Hartwick 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 10-42 10-12 34.
Dillon 12 13 12 13 — 50
Butte Central 7 7 12 8 — 34
3-point goals — Dillon 5-9 (DeJohn 0-1, A. Shipman 0-1, Jones 3-4, Pittman 2-3), Butte Central 4-22 (Hasquet 1-3, Thatcher 1-4, Kump 1-5, Keeley 0-1, Badovinac 1-7, Kelly 0-1, Hartwick 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Dillon 15, Butte Central 14. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Dillon 27 (A. Shipman 10), Butte Central 25 (Thatcher 8). Blocks — Dillon 3 (A. Shipman 3), Butte Central 4 (Thatcher 2). Assists — Dillon 11 (A. Shipman 3), Butte Central 8 (Hasquet 5). Steals — Dillon 8 (M. Shipman 4), Butte Central 11 (Hasquet 3). Turnovers — Dillon 19, Butte Central 17.