By Bill Foley
That’s not how the Bulldogs hoped to open the season.
Butte High came out of the gate cold, and it cost the Bulldogs Tuesday night in a 63-52 loss to Helena High at the Butte Civic Center.
While a young Butte High team couldn’t find a consistent shot, the Bengals clicked early. The result was that Helena High never trailed in a game that was the season opener for both teams.
“If we start a little different in the game, the game is probably completely different,” Butte High coach Luke Powers said. “But we didn’t. We played nervous all game.”
The Bulldogs tied the game twice — at 5-all and 10-all. The Bengals, though had a quick answer each time Butte High pulled even in the first quarter.
Connor Murgel and Josiah Shelley each hit tiebreaking 3-pointers.
In all, five different Bengals combined to hit eight three pointers. Murgel, a junior, hit three on his way to a game-high 18 points.
(Story continues below photo gallery)
Junior Trevyn Roth hit five 3-pointers and scored 16 points to lead the Bulldogs.
It was the shots that didn’t fall for the Bulldogs, though, that were most notable on the opening night.
“We looked like a young basketball season early in the season,” Powers said. “Quite frankly, that’s what we are. Right from the start, we shot a little nervous.”
The Bulldogs trailed 15-10 after the first quarter, 32-18 at halftime and 44-32 after three.
Butte High, though, competed until the final buzzer. That is one positive on a night in which Powers said there were many.
“There’s a million positives that happened,” the coach said. “I’m going to say this all year until we start winning. We’re going to be a work in progress, and we’re going to have to fall in love with that process of improvement. Our kids know that.
“There’s not anyone in (the locker room) with their head down,” Powers added. “There’s kids in there thinking, ‘Gosh, we missed some open shots that would have changed things.’”
Junior Kash Kelly, Butte High’s lone returning starter, scored 13 points. That included a 3-pointer and a 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.
Classmate Clay Ferguson added 10 points, while fellow juniors Tommy Mellott and Kale McCarthy followed with six.
Butte Central transfer Zach Carlson, also a junior, scored two after logging a couple of quarters in the junior varsity game, and freshmen Jacob Olsen made his high school debut with one point.
Lathan Ricketts, Butte High’s lone senior, started and contributed throughout, and sophomore Kaven Noctor also saw time in the fourth quarter.
Powers said the Bulldogs need to handle pressure better, and he’s got to help the team improve its offensive game.
“I have to go back and look at film, and I have to find a way to get these guys some easy baskets,” Butte High’s third-year coach said.
Three Bengals scored in double figures. Junior Pierce Brown scored 11 points, while senior Caleb Ferguson tossed in 10.
Helena also got nine from Alex Johnson, six from Shelley, five from Dawson Tedesco and four from Holden Sampson.
The game was the lone Butte High home game in December. The Bulldogs are back in action next Tuesday when they head to Missoula Big Sky.
Butte High’s next home game is Jan. 6 against Great Falls Russell.
HELENA HIGH (1-0) — Dawson Tedesco 0 5-7 5, Caleb Ferguson 3 3-4 10, Alex Johnson 4 0-2 9, Connor Murgel 6 3-4 18, Holden Sampson 2 0-0 4, Pierce Brown 5 0-0 11, Hayden Ferguson 0 0-0 0, Trey Tintinger 0 0-0 0, Josiah Shelly 2 0-0 6, Grady Koenig 0 0-0 0, Aiden Brus 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-17 63.
BUTTE HIGH (0-1) — Kash Kelly 1 10-10 13, Tommy Mellott 2 2-2 6, Clay Ferguson 4 2-5 10, Lathan Ricketts 0 0-0 0, Trevyn Roth 5 1-2 16, Kale McCarthy 2 0-3 4, Jacob Olson 0 1-2 1, Zach Carlson 1 0-0 2, Kaven Noctor 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 16-24 52.
Helena High 15 17 12 19 — 63
Butte 10 8 14 20 — 52
3-point goals — Helena 8 (Murgel 3, Shelley 2, Ferguson 1, Brown 1, Johnson 1), Butte 6 (Roth 5, Kelly 1). Fouls — Helena 18, Butte 15. Fouled out — none. Technicals — Tintinger.