Broncs turn back Bulldogs in State AA quarterfinals

BILLINGS — Butte High’s Cinderella run bid at the Class AA State boys’ basketball tournament will not end with a state championship.

A third-place trophy, though, is still very much alive for the Bulldogs.

Butte High heads to the consolation side of the bracket after a 74-62 loss to Billings Senior Thursday night at the Metra. (Stats)

The Bulldogs (6-17) will take on Missoula Big Sky (11-11) in a 1:30 p.m. loser-out game on Friday. Senior (14-8) will battle Bozeman (21-2) in an 8 p.m. semifinal. The Hawks beat the Eagles 55-47 just before the Bulldogs and Broncs took the court.

Thursday’s Butte-Senior battle was a rough-and-tumble affair, with the Bulldogs leading for much of the first half.

Thanks to a long, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kenley Leary, the Bulldogs led 21-19 at the end of the first quarter.

A quick Senior run late in the second, however, put the Broncs up for good. Senior led 37-30 at halftime and 48-43 after three.

Bulldog Cameron Gurnsey fouled out quickly to start the fourth, hurting Butte’s comeback hopes.

What hurt them even worse was the clutch free throw shooting of Melo Pine. He shot 10 of 10 from the stripe, including a bunch in the final minutes.

Pine finished with 23 points to lead three Senior players in double figures scoring. Pine also grabbed nine rebounds and dished three assists.

Cactus Runsabove tossed in 17 points and grabbed nine boards, and Reagan Walker scored 13.

Walker’s night included a huge 3-pointer down the stretch.

Chazz Haws added nine points, eight rebounds and three assists for Senior, which has won seven straight. That includes four straight victories in the postseason for the Eastern AA champions.

Leary continued his hot streak with 19 points. He sank five 3-pointeers, and none of them came on easy shots.

Jace Stenson scored 19 points for the Bulldogs, who saw eight players hit the scorebook. Stenson also grabbed seven rebounds.

Gurnsey finished with nine despite missing much of the second half. Kooper Klobucar added six points and seven rebounds, Bo Demarais tossed in five points, and Jonas Sherman, Tocher Lee and Dylan “Bobby” Bache scored three apiece.