By Bill Foley
Butte Central’s girls’ basketball team didn’t pick up its first win of the season Friday night at the Maroon Activities Center.
Coach Meg Murphy’s ultra-young Maroons, however, sent out a clear message that they are nobody’s pushover as they went down fighting in a 33-32 Southwestern A loss to Frenchtown.
“I’m proud of them,” Murphy said of her Maroons. “I’m not disappointed at all. That game could have went either way.”
Freshman Cassidy Bagnell caught a pass from her sister, junior Claire Bagnell, and banked in a jump shot with 10 seconds left to send the Broncs home victorious in the Southwestern A opener for both teams.
The game-winning shot came after BC junior Emma Keeley put the Maroons on top 32-30 with 1 minute, 19 seconds left in the game.
Sophomore Lauren Demmons hit one of two free throws with 38.4 seconds left to cut the lead to one.
Looking for the win, Claire Bagnell saw past the converging BC defense and found Cassidy Bagnell wide open with a cross-court pass.
A turnover on an inbound pass prevented the Maroons from getting off a last-second shot after calling timeout with 2.5 seconds left.
Frenchtown led most of the first three quarters, taking a 13-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter and a 20-17 lead at halftime.
The Broncs led 26-22 before Keeley cut the lead to 26-24 late in the third quarter.
Sophomore Maddie Kump’s second 3-pointer of the game put BC on top 27-26 early in the fourth quarter.
Senior Tricia Joyce then stole the ball and fed freshman Sofee Thatcher. Thatcher was fouled and sank both free throws to make it 29-26. Another Thatcher free throw extended the lead to 30-26 with 3:31 left.
Hailey Aurthur scored on a putback before Demmons took a steal the distance to tie the game with 2:27 left.
That’s where the scored stayed before Keeley drove the paint hit a pull-up jumper.
“Emma Keeley played as well as I’ve seen Emma Keeley play,” Murphy said after the junior scored a game-high 14 points. “Ask her to box in one for you and then be an offensive threat. That’s not usually want. Emma played a heck of a game.”
Aurthur scored 10 points to lead the Broncs. Claire Bagnell tossed in nine, while Demmons scored seven. Kiya Shleton added a three for Frenchtown, while Faith Rebich joined Cassidy Bagnell with two points.
Kump and Thatcher each scored six points for the Maroons. Joyce tossed in four points while running the point, and senior Shea Davis tossed in two points to go with some big rebounds.
Senior Bella Sorini started the game, but was quickly subbed out for the rest of the way because of a nagging knee injury. Sophomores Amira Bolton, Taylor Harrington and Delaney Hasquet also contributed for the Maroons, who were without freshman Rileigh McGree.
McGree sat out after suffering a scratched eye in practice. Murphy said she is hopeful McGree can play Saturday when the Maroons host Stevensville.
The two injuries left BC with just 11 players, making for a long day as those players tried to stretch out the eight quarters for a varsity and junior varsity contest, which the Maroons won.
“It’s a lot to ask kids,” Murphy said. “We had kids play 32 minutes in JV, and Delaney Hasquet came in and played 5 minutes of a varsity game. That’s a lot of minutes in a day. That’s huge.”
The coach also pointed out that it completely changes what she can do with the game plan.
While her team was clearly upset with the loss, Murphy focused on the positive.
“We played better. We’re getting better each week,” she said. “The kids grew and got better form last weekend.”
The Maroons and Yellowjackets will battle at 4 p.m. Saturday at the MAC.
FRENCHTOWN (2-1, 1-0) — Faith Rebich 1 0-0 2, Chlaire Bagnell 3 0-0 9, Lauren Demmons 3 1-2 7, Hailey Aurthur 4 2-7 10, Kiya Shelton 1 0-0 3, Cassidy Bagnell 1 0-0 2, Hope Reich 0 0-0 0, Madison LaTray 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 3-9 33.
BUTTE CENTRAL (0-3, 0-1) — Bella Sorini 0 0-0 0, Shea Davis 0 2-4 2, Emma Keeley 4 4-4 14, Tricia Joyce 2 0-0 4, Maddie Kump 2 0-2 6, Sofee Thatcher 1 3-4 6, Amira Bolton 0 0-0 0, Taylor Harrington 0 0-2 0, Delaney Hasquet 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 9-16 32.
Frenchtown 13 7 6 7 — 33
Butte Central 8 9 7 8 — 32
3-point goals — Frenchtown 4 (Claire Bagnell 3, Shelton), BC 5 (Keeley 2, Kump 2, Thatcher). Fouls — Frenchtown 16, BC 13. Fouled out — Kump. Technicals — none.