By John Robbins
Butte Bulldogs 58 VS Helena Bengals 49
The Butte High Bulldogs were eager to get another crack at another Helena team as they had just lost to Capital by 1 Thursday night, The Bengals came in with a 6-0 conference play record and 8-1 overall but Butte would change that as the Bulldogs handled them all night, although Helena would make it interesting in the second half Butte had control after a huge 19-4 run in the second quarter and got a big win on a snowy late January day.
Casey Merrifield started things off with a bank call on Saturday afternoon from three land and Cameron Gurnsey would follow immediately after on a fast break for two to give the Dogs an early 5-0 start.
Helena would eventually answer back with a couple of baskets of their own to make it 5-4 Butte with 5:03 to go in the opening quarter.
Hudson Luedtke would then slash then lane and get fouled on his way up and make 1 of 2 free throws. On the Bengals next possession, Buttes senior Cam Gursney swatted the Helena 3 attempt, 6-4 Butte with 4:13 in the first.
Both teams traded buckets at the end of the quarter and Jace Stenson would get fouled with 2.8 seconds remaining, he would hit 1 of 2 and the Bulldogs led by 1 after one, 9-8.
The Bengals would start the period off with a turnover and Jace Stenson would make sure to capitalize as he drove inside the key for an easy 2. Stenson would again get the ball under the bucket on a baseline slash and lay it in for another duce 13-8 Dogs two minutes into the period.
Camerson Gurnsey would then push the pace and get a full court layup to make it 17 – 8 Butte High leading to a Helena High timeout with 5:34 to go.
Capital would finally get a bucket to stop the bleeding with a layup and a duce to make it 17-10 Butte, Helena would struggle mightily with turnovers and missed bunnies leading to another Jace Stenson drive and score to the bucket completing the old fashioned 3-point play.
Butte would see their first double digit lead of the night 20-10 with just over two minutes to go in the first half, Helena would answer with a long two ball and make it 20-12, but Bo Demarais said hold up a sec and slashed through the lane and scored a duce for the Dogs making it 22-12 with 2 minutes left.
Tocher Lee would then knock down a huge three ball and the lead would balloon to 13 for Butte, timeout Helena with 1:19 to go in the half. That didn’t slow the Dogs down at all as Hudson Luedtke would kick it in the corner to Cam Gurnsey and he’d sink a corner triple 28-12 as Butte kept their foot on the throttle and took a 16-point lead to the locker room.
28-12 Bulldogs after 16 minutes of play.
Helena would open up with a free throw and layup to begin the second half making it 28-15 Butte 2 minutes in. Gurnsey would make a trip to the charity stripe and hit them all to start the scoring in the second half for Butte.
Helena came out much more aggressive and matched the Bulldogs intensity to begin the 3rd chipping away at the lead and hitting a baseline jumper to cut their deficit to 9, 30-21 with 3:40 to go.
Casey Merrifield would check back in and stroke a 3 ball to bring the lead back to 10, Helena would continue to play aggressive and get another foul call down low and make both at the line.
Hudson Luedtke would get a shot in the short corner and drain it for a quick two for Butte, Helena would match them the bucket and trail by 8 with 2:06 to play in the 3rd. Jonas Sherman would knock down two at the stripe for the Dogs leading to a Bengal turnover at the other end.
Butte would take a 12-point advantage to the final frame 40-28. Helena would open their scoring in the period from the free throw line knocking down both shots. Butte High would get a turnover resulting in a back cut and lay in for two with a foul call, completing the 3-point play 40-33 Butte.
Jace Stenson would again take control by completing a three-point play of his own to go back up 10 with 6 minutes left in the game.
Helena would get a second chance bucket to cut it to 8 and call a 30 second timeout, Tocher Lee would come right out of the timeout out and drive the lane for 2.
The Bengals would continue to hang around and get another offensive board and score for two themselves, off a Butte miss they would come right back down and sink a three to cut it to just 5 with 3:20 remaining.
Senior Jace Stenson would hit a triple to go up 8 but just as fast as I could say that the Bengals would knock down one too, keeping the lead to 5 with 2:27 to go.
The Dogs couldn’t hit a free throw to put things away hitting 2 of 6 with just 2 minutes to go and would lead by 7. Helena couldn’t hit a free throw either as they were fouled and sent to the line after the Bulldogs reached the penalty.
The Dogs would finally get a successful trip to the line as freshman Hudson Luedtke knocked down two big ones with just over a minute to go, he’d get fouled and hit two more to go up 54-47. Butte High must have heard me talk about their free throws as they sink their last 4 at the line and would go on to win this one 58-49.
Jace Stenson led the way for the Bulldogs with 18 points, Cam Gurnsey and Hudson Luedtke each had 9, Casey Merrifield had 8, Tocher Lee had 6 Jonas Sherman had 4, Bo Demarais and Dylan Bache each had 2 for the Bulldogs.
The Bengals were led by Cael Murgel who had 18 for Helena High.
The Bulldogs will return to action Tuesday as they take on their cross-town rivals in Butte Central at the Civic Center.
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