By Bruce Sayler
The try was long for Butte High, just not the height.
Flathead High of Kalispell stayed just enough ahead of the Bulldogs to leave town with a 60-52 win in the Western AA Conference high school girls’ basketball game played in Butte High’s Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym on Saturday.
“We had our chances,” Bryan Arntson, head coach of the Bulldogs. “We look at the score and can see we lost by a little amount. There were points of the game where I felt (the Bravettes) were about to get away from us, but our kids dug it out and competed.
“We actually shot the ball well. We just not mentally plugged in and they’re a tough team. We lost our focus on defense and they just got too big of a lead.”
The Bulldogs shot better than Flathead, just didn’t get as many opportunities. Butte High hit 50 percent of its shots from the floor and notched 20 field goals to the Bravettes’ 19. Flathead capitalized at the free throw line with 14 makes in 23 attempts.
Flathead teams are chronically tall and this year’s Bravettes didn’t break the trend. The starting five measured 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-2 and two more players 6-foot or taller were available on the bench. The Bulldogs went 5-8 to 5-11 in the starters with nobody taller than 5-7 in reserve.
It wasn’t an excuse Arntson was ready to use.
“We didn’t have the girls ready enough to compete right at the start,” he said. “(The Bravettes) are a very talented squad. We played them decent. We have to have a little bit more focus and not have possessions where we’re not locked in.”
Butte High led once, 3-2 on an Emmarie Richards 3-point basket at the 7-minute, 14-second mark of the first quarter. Flathead responded with an 11-0 run and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Madelyn Moy launched the spree with a short jumper and a 3-point shot. Her 3-pointer at the end of the period gave the Bravettes a 23-12 advantage heading into the second frame.
The Bulldogs fought back. Laura Rosenleaf and Brityn Stewart combined on an 8-0 surge that cut a 28-14 Flathead bulge to 28-22 with 3:53 left in the first half. Avery Chouinard ripped through a 3-pointer for the Bravettes, but went dry for the rest of the half while Butte High closed on another 8-0 run to trail only 31-30 at halftime. Eighth-grader Cadence Graham buried a 3-pointer in the burst. Rosenleaf scored the other five points, including a free throw at the end of the half after Flathead coach Sam Tudor was charged a technical foul. He had boisterously debated a call.
Whatever momentum gained evaporated after the break on the Bulldogs. Flathead scored the first seven points of the second half and outscored Butte High 16-2 the first seven minutes of the frame. Chouinard, sparkplug off the bench Harlie Roth and 6-2 Kennedy Moore chained three 3-pointers to spotlight the surge. Stewart answered with a trey for the Bulldogs, then converted a pair of foul shots, but the Bravettes closed the quarter with another Roth 3-pointer, a buzzer-beater, and enjoyed a 50-37 cushion going into the last period.
Butte High chiseled away at the gap, but couldn’t shrink it anymore than to eight points.
Flathead went to 9-3 for the season with the win and holds a 7-2 league record. Moore led the Bravettes with 19 points and eight rebounds. Chouinard finished with 16 points and Moy had 10. Cecilia Vandenbosch came in off the bench and took down eight boards, tying Moore for the team lead. Flathead compiled a 35-27 advantage in rebounds.
Stewart finished with 16 points to pace Butte High production while Rosenleaf’s all-around game included 12 points and team highs of nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. She and Richards each blocked two shots.
Graham tallied 11 points, including three treys. Richards had nine points, and Brooke Groesbeck and Payton Clary each scored two. Taylor Bushman, Dylann Bartoletti, Rian Ferriter and Elli Quist also played. Butte High is 3-10 for the season and 1-8 in Western AA play going into a game at Missoula Big Sky on Tuesday.
KALISPELL FLATHEAD (9-3, 7-2) – Madelyn Moy 4-12 0-0 10, Akliah Kubi 2-7 3-3 7, Taliana Miller 0-0 0-2 0, Kennedy Moore 6-12 5-10 19, Avery Chouinard 4-12 6-7 16, Cecilia Vandenbosch 0-3 0-1 0, Harlie Roth 3-3 0-0 8. Totals 19-49 14-23 60.
BUTTE HIGH (3-10, 1-8) – Brityn Stewart 6-10 3-3 16, Laura Rosenleaf 4-9 4-7 12, Emmarie Richards 4-4 0-1 9, Taylor Bushman 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Groesbeck 1-2 0-0 2, Dylann Bartoletti 0-1 0-0 0, Cadence Graham 4-10 0-0 11, Payton Clary 1-2 0-0 2, Rian Ferriter 0-2 0-0 0, Elli Quist 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-40 7-11 52.
Flathead 23 8 19 10 – 60
Butte High 12 18 7 15 – 52
3-point goals – Flathead 8-19 (Moy 2-6, Moore 2-3, Chouinard 2-7, Vandenbosch 0-1, Roth 2-2), Butte 5-18 (Stewart 1-5, Rosenleaf 0-1, Richards 1-1, Bartoletti 0-1, Graham 3-9, Clary 0-1). Fouled out – Miller. Total fouls – Flathead 16, Butte 17. Technical – Flathead Coach Tudor. Rebounds – Flathead 35 (Moore 8, Vandenbosch 8), Butte 27 (Rosenleaf 9). Blocks – Flathead 1 (Moore), Butte 5 (Rosenleaf 2, Richards 2). Assists – Flathead 5 (Chouinard 3), Butte 12 (Rosenleaf 3). Steals – Flathead 8 (Chouinard 3, Moore 3), Butte 4 (Rosenleaf 3). Turnovers – Flathead 9, Butte 13.
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