A fast start wasn’t enough for the Maroons Thursday night.
Helena High overcame a 12-point point deficit to beat Butte Central 53-49 in a non-conference boys’ basketball game in front of a large crowd at Maroon Activities Center.
“We were playing so great,” Butte Central coach Brodie Kelly said. “It was a shame that we lost this game.”
The Class A No. 5 Maroons were absolutely cruising to start the game. They were hitting inside and outside to build a 29-17 lead.
Sophomore Marcus Ferriter scored off a nice pass from Nate Bolstad with 2 minutes, 39 seconds on the second-quarter clock to put the Maroons up by 12 over the Class AA Bengals.
“Our first half was awesome,” Kelly said. “Actually, our first 13 minutes of the game was awesome. This game was lost for us in that second quarter from the 3-minute mark on.”
The Bengals outscored the Maroons 6-0 to end the quarter and steal the momentum heading into halftime.
“We had a 12 point lead and were executing really well,” Kelly said. “Right at the end of the first half we turned the ball over, and it led to transition buckets and three-point plays. It went from what could have been a 15-point game to a six-point game.
“It was frustrating at halftime that we were only up six given the way that we played.”
The Maroons, though, regained control it seemed, and BC led 38-29 when Danny Peoples sank a 3-pointer with 2:32 left in the second quarter.
Then Chase South drove for a hoop that started a 7-0 run to close out the quarter.
Garth Grimsrud scored on a pair of putbacks — one that he turned in to a 3-point play — and BC’s lead was just 38-36 after three quarters.
Helena High coach John Mike Hollow, a 1996 Butte Central graduate, said his team didn’t do anything flashy to turn the game around.
“We played defense,” Hollow said. “We played so awful defensively in the first half. They made some shots, but that’s one thing we’ve been good at consistently all year is defense. We weren’t in the first half.”
The fourth quarter saw two ties and three lead changes before a put back by Austin Young — off one of his own missed free throws — put the Bengals on top for good with 2:44 left.
Helena hung on for the win by hitting 5 of 6 free throws to close out the game.
“They deserved to win it because of the way they played down the stretch, and we didn’t,” Kelly said. “That’s the kind of game you have to win at tournament time.”
South scored 12 points to lead three Bengals in double figures. Young and Grimsrud each scored 11.
Brady Tippett tossed in six of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Maroons. Ferriter scored 10 of his 12 in the first half.
Peoples tossed in eight points, while Bolstad scored seven, Connor McGree battled for three and Kale Guldseth and Dalton Sessions each scored two. Emmett McCarthy also contributed for the Maroons, who play host to Stevensville in a key Southwestern A game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Hollow, who also faced Butte Central as head coach at Ronan and Belgrade, beat the Maroons for the first time in five tries.
The Butte native, though, played down beating a team coached by Kelly, whom Hollow used to coach junior high football and basketball with at Butte Central junior high.
“You want to play good when you play Butte, I know that,” Hollow said. “I’m proud of my kids. They found a way to win. (Butte Central) is a good team, a really good team. It was a big win for us.”
HELENA HIGH (5-3) — Zayne Temple 0 4-4 4, Austin Young 4 2-5 11, Chase South 5 2-4 12, Dawson Reardon 1 0-0 2, Henry Garrett 2 0-0 4, Garth Grimsrud 4 3-3 11, Troy Arntson 0 0-0 0, Kyle Cochran 1 2-2 5, McBride Galt 2 0-0 4, Ragen Shein 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 13-18 53.
BUTTE CENTRAL (7-4) — Kale Guldseth 1 0-1 2, Connor McGree 2 1-2 3, Brady Tippett 5 4-4 15, Marcus Ferriter 6 0-0 12, Nate Bolstad 3 1-2 7, Danny Peoples 3 0-0 8, Emmett McCarthy 0 0-0 0, Dalton Sessions 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 6-9 49.
Helena High 9 14 13 17 — 53
Butte Central 19 12 9 11 — 49
3-point goals — Helena 2 (Young, Cochran), BC 3 (Peoples 2, Tippett). Fouls — Helena 14, BC 18. Fouled out — Guldseth. Technicals — none.