By Bill Foley
Brock Powell hit 11 big shots Thursday night as he tossed in a career-high 23 points to lead Butte High to a 53-46 win over Butte Central in front of a crowd of 3,000-plus at the Butte Civic Center.
Perhaps the biggest shot of the night by the Butte High junior, though, was the one he didn’t take.
With Butte High leading 48-45, Powell, who grabbed 12 rebounds to post his fourth double-double in five games, caught a pass and had nobody guarding him. He looked at the basket, looked at the clock falling under the 1-mintue mark, pump faked a shot and then passed to a teammate.
“I wanted to take it at first,” Powell said after Butte High’s second straight win over the Maroons. “Then I looked up and saw there was about a minute left. Coach Powers was in my ear yelling ‘No.’”
Butte High was able to run off 22 more seconds before the Maroons could get a desperation foul, and the Bulldogs hit 5 out of 6 free throws in the final 38 seconds to ice the victory.
“I wanted to take it, but it ended up being good that I didn’t,” Powell said of the 3-pointer that never was.
Bulldog coach Luke Powers pointed to the fact that Powell passed up the shot as a sure sign of the team’s maturity growth as the season heads into the final stretch.
“He gave me a heart attack, but he knew what he was doing,” Powers said. “He said he just wanted to scare me. You know what, when you’re playing as well as he is, it’s probably hard to pass up shots.”
Butte Central coach Brodie Kelly called Powell’s performance “awesome.”
“He was dominant for four quarters,” Kelly said. “He had his way with us in the interior.”
Powell did most of his work while his teammates struggled shooting. He scored six in the first quarter before scoring all eight of Butte High’s second-half points after the Maroons took a 19-10 lead on back-to-back buckets by Cole Harper to start the frame.
The Bulldog defense also stepped up, holding the Maroons to just one point over the final 5 minutes of the second quarter, and BC’s lead was 22-18 at the break.
“Anything we were doing from 10 to 20 feet wasn’t going for us, and Brock kept us in the game,” Powers said. “We very easily could have been down 10, 15, 20 points at the half.”
The teams exchanged runs in the third quarter.
After Butte Central scored six straight to take a 28-20 lead, the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 run to lead 31-30.
BC closed out the quarter with two more buckets by Harper, including a 3-pointer, and a drive by Nate McGree, and the Maroons led 37-31 at the end of the third.
Freshman Kash Kelly and reserve big man Kyle Klapan each hit a pair of free throws, Kelly drove for a hoop, and Powell scored on a put back as Butte High opened the final quarter with eight straight points.
The Maroons tied the game twice more — at 39 and 41 — but BC never led again.
Powell put the Bulldogs up for good at 44-41 with a three-point play with 2:45 left.
McGree took a nice pass from Tanner Kump for a bucket with 1:56 left before Powell answered with another inside hoop to extend the lead to 48-45.
After a defensive stop, Powell passed on his open look from three on the next Butte High possession.
Powell said it took everything Butte High had to beat Butte Central.
“They were a tough team,” he said. “That was a fight; it was a brawl. It was good to come away with a win.”
Powers pointed to the play of junior point guard Ryson Lovshin in the fourth quarter. Lovshin scored eight of his 12 points in the final eight minutes. He went 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the final minute.
“He had a horrendous first three quarters, and he had a fabulous fourth quarter,” Powers said. “He’s a winner, and he made sure we won the game.”
Evan Anderson tossed in seven points in the win. Kelly scored five, while Trey Hoagland and Patrick O’Herron joined Klapan with two. Travis Williams also started and contributed to the win.
McGree scored 12 of his team-leading 19 points in the second half to lead the Maroons, who fell to 8-8 with their fifth straight loss. Harper ended with 17.
“We just didn’t play good down the stretch,” Kelly said.
Sam Johnston scored four points for BC, while Kump, Riley Richardson and Archie Petritz each scored two.
Freshman Cade Holter also contribute big minutes for the Maroons, while Tyler Kump and Hunter Hartwick saw court time.
Traditionally, Butte Central has gone on a run, win or lose, after playing Butte High. With the game a month later than it has been in recent years, BC will need a boost with the Western A divisional tournament just two weeks away.
“We need something,” Kelly said. “It’s been five in a row.”
The Maroons will play at Corvallis in a Southwestern A game on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (4-12) could also use a boost as they close out the regular season with games against Bozeman and all three Billings schools. Billings Skyview and Billings West will be in town next week.
“Those are big games coming up,” Powell said. “This one will help us build momentum toward those.”
Powers said he likes what he sees in his team.
“That’s a locker room of kids who are starting to believe in themselves,” the coach said. “We’re starting to peak at the right time.”
BUTTE HIGH (4-12) — Ryson Lovshin 2 8-9 12, Evan Anderson 2 2-4 7, Patrick O’Herron 1 0-0 2, Travis Williams 0 0-2 0, Brock Powell 11 1-1 23, Trey Hoagland 0 2-2 2, Kash Kelly 1 3-4 5, Kyle Klapan 0 2-2 2. Totals 17 18-24 53.
BUTTE CENTRAL (8-8) — Sam Johnston 2 0-0 4, Nate McGree 5 9-15 19, Cole Harper 7 1-1 17, Tanner Kump 1 0-0 2, Riley Richardson 1 0-0 2, Archie Petritz 1 0-0 2, Cade Holter 0 0-0 0, Tyler Kump 0 0-0 0, Hunter Hartwick 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 10-16 46.
Butte 10 8 13 22 — 53
Central 14 8 15 9 — 46
3-point goals — Butte 1 (Anderson), Central 2 (Harper 2). Fouls — Butte 17, Central 20. Fouled out — Johnston, Tanner Kump. Technicals — none.