Bulldog boys hit the court running

If you’re looking for guarantees heading into the prep boys’ basketball season, then Terry Hauser is your man.

Butte High’s new basketball coach promises fans will get their money’s worth watching his Bulldogs.

“I always tell the kids as long as you’re playing hard the fans will be there. The fans want to see you playing hard,” Hauser said. “The kids are playing with all their heart. I’m really just loving how hard they are playing.”

Hauser, 27, takes over a program that has fallen on hard times after four straight State tournament appearances from 2004-07. The Bulldogs were upset at home in the 2008 playoffs, and haven’t been to State since.

Last year, Butte High saw a season start with promise and end with a rash of injuries and an 8-13 campaign. A playoff loss at Billings Senior left the Bulldogs without a tournament.

“They’re working their tails off,” Hauser said. “The ultimate goal is to go to State.”

Hauser is a 2003 graduate of Three Forks High School and a 2010 Montana Western grad. The Kansas native stared at both schools and was hired to lead the Bulldogs in the spring

His team will showcase its talent during the Purple-White scrimmage at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Richardson Gym.

“My goals have been the same since I got (the job), and that’s go above .500 and make the State tournament,” Hauser said. “That’s an achievable goal and a high goal to reach, knowing we have no starters back from last year.”

The Bulldogs were hit hard by graduation, and senior Jake Dennehy can’t play basketball because of a shoulder injury suffered during the football season.

Dallas Cook, the star quarterback for the State champion Butte High football team, is the most experienced returning varsity player.

Hauser said Cook, who is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, is primed for a big season on the hardwood, too.

“He’s a monster,” Hauser said of Cook. “We do a lot of competitions in practice with the loser running. I don’t think I’ve seen him on the end line more than once or twice. He’s always competing and always winning. He’s like the Michael Jordan of our practice, and he’ll let you know it too.”

Hauser said Cook, who played varsity at Anaconda as a freshman before moving to Butte, will be a threat inside and out.

“I like to get him out in isolation, too,” Hauser said. “Not a lot of guys his size are going to be as fast and strong as him getting to the hoop. He’s a great finisher, and his shot’s not bad either. It looks hideous, but it goes in.”

Senior Zach Bunney, whose outstanding football season showed he has recovered after fighting off leukemia, and junior Peter Granger will split time at point guard.

Granger, who the coach said “works his tail off,” is 6-3, while Bunney is 5-7.

“He’s got a different speed than anybody out there,” Hauser said of the ultra-quick Bunney. “You’ll be pressuring him at half court, and all of a sudden he’s at the hoop. He’s got that extra step, too, which is good because he’s not the tallest person. He plays like he’s 6-feet tall.”

Hauser said Brian Smith, Cory Farstveet, Chase Plum and Kyle Peterson will for be varsity regulars. He said Killian O’Leary and Gabe McClafferty are “close” to earning that status.

Hauser said he will suit up 12 players for every game, and a lot of the seats on the bench will rotate, with Colten Billteen, Zach Johnson, Sean Doyle, Chanse Kremer, Tyler Earles and Connor Lee candidates to fill those spots.

The Bulldogs open the season Tuesday when they play Belgrade in a non-conference game at the Butte Civic Center. The game will be the second half of a girls-boys doubleheader.

The Bulldogs will play six games before the first of the year. Their first home game is Jan. 3 when they play at home against Great Falls High.

Butte High plays Butte Central Jan. 10. The State tournament is March 7-9 in Great Falls.

Click here for the full schedule.

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