The season comes down to Thursday night for the Butte High boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.
Both Butte High teams will travel to Billings for an Eastern AA playoff doubleheader against West High in the Golden Dome.
The girls open the twin bill at 5 p.m. The boys’ are scheduled to play at 7. Both games will be carried live on KBOW (550 a.m., 101.5 FM, online).
The winners advance to the combined boys-girls Class AA State tournament, which begins next Thursday at the Butte Civic Center.
Butte High’s girls enter the playoff game at 2-18 overall and 0-12 in Eastern AA play. That means absolutely nothing now, however. A win Thursday sends the Bulldogs to the dance.
Second-place West (10-10, 8-4) swept the regular-season series with the Bulldogs. The Bears won 56-16 Jan. 23 in Butte. West completed the sweep with a 55-26 victory Feb. 20 in Billings.
MorningRose Tobey, who committed to Nevada before moving to Billings just before the school year, scored 26 points in the game in Butte. She suffered a knee injury early in the second game, but has since returned to the Bears’ lineup.
Tobey, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, averages 17.3 points per game to lead the Bears and the Class AA in scoring. Haylea Elkin, a 5-9 junior, averages 13.2 points.
Senior guard McKaul Ori averages 11 points per game to lead the Bulldogs. Fellow senior Maria Michelotti averages 6.2 points, while sophomore Abby Dodge averages 5.6 points and 6 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs are trying to make sure this game isn’t the last in a Butte High uniform for Ori, Michelotti and fellow seniors Sydney Jennings, Bethany McLean and Kassidy Caprara. Senior Lexi Murphy will be on the bench after undergoing ACL surgery earlier this season.
The Bears also swept the boys’ series, winning 71-52 in Billings and 60-46 in Butte.
Jared Samuelson, a 6-6 signee with the University of Montana, averages 15.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game to lead the Bears, who bring a 17-3 overall record into the postseason. The Bears placed second in the Eastern AA at 9-3.
Danny Betcher, a 6-8 future Rocky Mountain College player, adds 13.9 points and 6.5 boards to the lineup. The Rocky roster doesn’t include a player shorter than 6-foot. Five stand 6-5 or taller.
Brian Smith, a 5-10 senior guard paces Butte High with 13.6 points per game. Dylan Cook, a 6-6 junior, averages 11.1 points and 8.2 rebounds, while 6-5 Chanse Kremer scores 7.5 points per game.
Smith, Kremer and starter Kilian O’Leary are the only seniors on the Butte High roster.