Tuesday’s opener was far from perfect for the Butte High girls’ basketball team.
The Bulldogs did a whole lot of good things, though, rolling to a 72-53 non-conference win over the Belgrade Panthers at the Butte Civic Center.
“We did pretty good for the first game,” said Butte High junior Sammy McGree, who scored a game-high 17 points.
McGree led what was a balanced Butte High attack. Nine different Bulldogs scored in a game that saw Butte High lead nearly the entire game.
Junior Hailey Hoagland tossed in 13 points in her first game since tearing the ACL in her left knee last January.
Natalee Faupel, who was limited by foul trouble, scored nine points to go along with six rebounds and five steals. Bethany McLean came off the bench to score eight.
“We played hard,” Butte High coach Jeff Arntson said. “The kids are running that offense very well and getting to the basket. I’m happy with them.
“We got some good play off the bench in the first half. Bethany McLean came in a played a good game for us.”
Butte High got seven points each from McLeod and senior Hattie Thatcher, six from Andy Hogan, three from Maria Michelotti and two from Mariah Richardson. Thatcher also dished out five assists and collected five steals, while Michelotti grabbed six boards.
Ashten McCloskey, who’s been under the weather, also contributed for the Bulldogs, who only trailed once, at 5-4.
McGree answered with a fast-break basket to put the Bulldogs back on top.
When Belgrade’s Dylan Fowler tied the game at 10, Erika McLeod answered by burying a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs on top for good.
The Bulldogs led 18-12 after the first quarter before taking a 39-32 advantage into halftime.
Belgrade hit on 5 of 8 first-half 3-pointers, and the Panthers stayed in the game by winning the battle on the glass.
“We did a pretty good job on the boards in the second half,” Arntson said. “In the first half I chewed their butts out for giving up too much on the offensive rebounds.”
The Bulldogs opened the second half with an 11-2 run to take command of the game.
“We just ran some different plays, executed well and got some shots in,” McGree, who scored 13 points in the first half, said of the Bulldogs’ second half.
Butte High still felt it left a lot of points on the court with some missed bunnies and 21 turnovers.
“We missed a lot of layups, and (Arntson) just said keep going,” McGree said. “We just stayed positive and I think we did pretty good.”
Fowler scored 12 to pace the Panthers, who placed third at the Class A State tournament last season. Tanna Holliday scored 11, while Holly Dahinder tossed in nine.
Butte High is back in action Thursday when they take on Helena High at the Civic Center.
“We have a lot of stuff to clean up, but it was a good start,” Arntson said. “It’s a big win to start.”
BELGRADE (0-1) — Holly Dahinden 3 1-5 9, Leighton Hirsh 0 0-0 0, Dylan Fowler 4 2-2 12, Tanna Hollidah 3 5-7 11, Taylor Woolman 2 2-5 6, Becca Tilleman 1 0-0 2, Alexis Clingingsmith 0 2-4 2, Madison Page 1 1-2 3, Erin Singleton 2 0-0 6, Shaylee Ragar 1 0-1 2. Totals 17 13-26 53.
BUTTE HIGH (1-0) — Hailey Hoagland 3 5-8 13, Natalee Faupel 3 3-4 9, Sammy McGree 7 3-4 17, Erika McLeod 2 2-2 7, Hattie Thatcher 1 5-9 7, Mariah Richardson 0 2-2 2, Bethany McLean 2 4-4 8, Maria Michelotti 1 1-1 3, Andie Hogan 3 0-0 6, Ashten McCloskey 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 25-34 72.
Belgrade 12 20 7 14 — 53
Butte 18 21 20 13 — 72
3-point goals — Belgrade 6 (Dahinden 2, Fowler 2, Singleton 2), Butte 3 (Hoagland 2, McLeod). Fouls — Belgrade 22, Butte 24. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.
The following photos were taken by Bret Graden. To buy high-quality copies of these photos or others like them, go to gradenphotography.com.