By Bruce Sayler
Both sides of foul trouble hindered the Butte Central girls on Saturday in their close 58-54 loss.
“You can’t miss free throws,” she offered after the Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ basketball game in the Maroon Activities Center.
Hamilton didn’t miss many and the Broncs shot a lot of them. They 25-for-31 from the foul line, including a 13-for-15 performance there in the fourth quarter, denying the Maroons a victory. Conversely, Butte Central totaled more field goals, but missed seven of its 10 attempts from the foul line.
Hamilton’s time-consuming possessions forced BC into fouling and the Broncs were deadly from the charity stripe. Murphy too easily recognized the strategy.
“That’s why we’ll have a 35-second clock next year,” she said, then turned to problem consideration and solving on her own end of the court. “Containment is a tough word in the fourth quarter for kids to understand. And, I think it’s really because we don’t have enough kids to practice with.”
A rebound put-back by Sofee Thatcher cut a Hamilton lead to 40-38 as the third quarter was drawing to a close. The Broncs then spun off the first eight points on the last period to put themselves into the advantageous situation with time evaporating and freebies being netted. Still, the last 30 seconds decided the outcome.
Taylor McCarthy, daughter of Butte native and former Montana State women’s basketball coach Frank McCarthy, drained a 3-pointer for Hamilton to start the last quarter and then Ayda Griffin meshed the Broncs’ first two free throws of the quarter. Layne Kearns maneuvered a basket-and-one and Hamilton had a 10-point lead, 48-38.
However, the Maroons bounced right back. Brenna Foley buried a 3-pointer off a Thatcher pass to light an 8-0 eruption. Thatcher capped it with a 3-pointer and a layup from an Ella Moodry pass. Again, it was a two-point difference, 48-46.
The Broncs found the foul line to their liking.
McCarthy and Taryn Searle netted four freebies in a row before BC could score again, a 12-footer by Brooke Badovinac. Searle was perfect from the stripe, going 4-for-4 in the last quarter, 11-for-11 for the game while tallying a team-high 16 points.
McCarthy made two more free throws before Butte Central roared back to tie the score 54-all with 25 seconds left in the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by Thatcher and Badovinac.
Kathryn Lalicker’s attempted steal of a bobble pass resulted in a foul that put Searle on the foul line. It also put Lalicker on the bench, joining starter Ella Moodry there with five fouls each. Searle didn’t miss and then stole the ball back from the Maroons.
McCarthy drew a foul and sank a freebie for a 57-54 Hamilton lead with 19 seconds on the clock. Badovinac’s 3-point attempt glanced off the front of the rim and McCarthy grabbed the rebound. She was fouled by Foley and made one free throw with four seconds to go.
It was not enough time for BC to get off any more shots.
“I thought we were dead coming out for the second half,” Murphy said, alluding to a 28-25 edge Butte Central owned at halftime, but gave up in the first two minutes after intermission. “Coming out, we didn’t shoot the ball, we didn’t do a lot of things. That’s going to change.
“I’m proud of how hard the kids played. Hamilton made a lot more free throws. It’s time we did.”
BC had a 14-11 first-quarter lead with Moodry’s inside play sparking the team early, then Badovinac nailing a 3-pointer near the end of the frame. Butte Central grew the advantage to 18=11 with two Badovinac baskets to start the second quarter. She finished the tilt with a game-high 23 points, 11 of which she tallied in the second quarter for 16 by halftime.
Three-pointers by Searle and McCarthy helped to cut margin to 28-25 at intermission.
Searle brought the Broncs the lead with three free throws and a basket in the first two minutes of the second half, going ahead 30-28. Kearns hit a pullup jumper for a 32-28 lead and the Maroons had their work ahead of them, eventually tying near the end, then falling at the final.
“I thought this was one of Sofee’s best floor games with her passes underneath,” Murphy said. “Sometimes, though, the kids weren’t always ready for them. Mollie Drew getting in foul trouble hurt us quite a bit because their (tall post Mya Winkler) was good inside.”
Winkler got both Moodry and her sub, Drew, into foul trouble with her agile inside play.
“We have a tough stretch ahead of us next week,” Murphy said. “We have to get ready and move on. Then, we have a little break before figuring out the next two weeks.”
Thatcher had 11 points to back Badovinac in scoring, and also led the Maroons with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Moodry had eight points and eight rebounds, Foley scored five points, Drew four and Payton Hartwick buried a 3-pointer. Maycee Anderson also played.
The Maroons are 5-5 for the season and 4-3 in the Southwestern A games. They will be at Livingston on Tuesday in a non-conference game.
Hamilton went to 8-2 overall, including a 5-1 conference mark. Searle’s 16 points and Kearns’ 15 led the scoring while McCarthy came off the bench to hoop 12. The 6-foot Winkler pulled down 11 rebounds.
HAMILTON (8-2, 5-1) — Ayda Griffin 1-3 2-2 4, Taryn Searle 2-12 11-11 16, Alex Brenneman 0-0 1-2 1, Layne Kearns 6-10 3-4 15, Mya Winkler 4-8 0-0 8, Madalyn Nelson 0-2 2-4 2, Taylor McCarthy 2-3 6-8 12, Lavana Wetzel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 25-31 58.
BUTTE CENTRAL (5-5, 4-3) — Brenna Foley 2-3 0-0 5, Payton Hartwick 1-1 0-0 3, Sofee Thatcher 4-12 1-3 11, Brooke Badovinac 10-19 0-1 23, Ella Moodry 3-8 2-6 8, Mollie Drew 2-5 0-0 4, Kathryn Lalicker 0-1 0-0 0, Maycee Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 3-10 54.
Hamilton 11 14 15 18 — 58
Butte Central 14 14 10 16 — 54
3-point goals – Hamilton 3-15 (Griffin 0-1, Searle 1-8, Kearns 0-2, Nelson 0-1, McCarthy 2-3), Butte Central 7-19 (Foley 1-2, Hartwick 1-1, Thatcher 2-7, Badovinac 3-9). Fouled out – Moodry, Lalicker. Total fouls – Hamilton 15, Butte Central 23. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Hamilton 34 (Winkler 11, Kearns 9), Butte Central 27 (Thatcher 10, Moodry 8). Blocks – Hamilton 1 (Searle), Butte Central 1 (Drew). Assists – Hamilton 9 (Searle 5), Butte Central 15 (Thatcher 7, Badovinac 4). Steals – Hamilton 6 (Searle 3), Butte Central 6 (Badovinac 3). Turnovers – Hamilton 21, Butte Central 13.