Butte welcomed the Hellgate Knights to town Friday night at the Butte Civic Center and it was a slow start for both teams offensively as the Knights came out and pressured the Bulldogs off the get go.
Junior Brit Stewart broke the ice with a corner triple followed up by a Hellgate lay in. Ashlinn Mullaney would then hit a two of her own and it was 5-2 Butte in the early going.
Butte responded well to the pressure as freshmen Cadence Graham found her way inside the key for a nice little runner, 7-2 Butte, timeout Missoula.
Hellgate responded with a great post move and shot for 2 but Cadence Graham would follow it up with a nice jumper of her own.
Franki Salusso found Taylor Drakos under the basket on the Dogs next possession but missed the And 1 free throw. After a three, a steal and a rebound off a missed free throw, Hellgate hit a shot at the buzzer to cut the Bulldog lead to 2 at the end of one, 11-9 Butte High.
Drakos began the second with a jumper for two from the left elbow, followed up by a 3 point bomb from Hellgate to stay within 1. Hellgate would hit back to back 3 balls, get a steal off the inbound pass and in a matter of seconds led by 4.
Mullaney would then hit a nice jumper for two more Bulldog points and it was 17-15 with 4:30 to go in the half.
After a Cadence Graham 3 with 40 seconds to play she put the Dogs back on top by 2, and after two more Graham free throws Butte High would take a 24-20 lead to the locker room.
Hellgate began the second half with the ball and immediately drew a foul and went to the line for two knocking down both, cutting the Bulldog lead to 2. After a couple of empty possessions for Butte, Hellgate knotted things up at 24 apiece off a fast break bucket.
Brit Stewart found a cutting Franki Salusso for the Bulldogs first points of the second half and Butte held a narrow 2 point advantage with 4 to go in the period.
Graham hit two free throws and stole the ball mid air on Missoula’s’ next possession as she raced down court drew the foul and completed the 3 point play.
Hellgate kept answering right back as they buried a triple their next time down and Butte led 33-29.
Cadence Graham would then find Brit Stewart in the corner off a great find and Stewart rewarded her with the assist as she drilled the corner 3 with just over a minute to play in the 3rd.
A Bulldog steal would lead to two more free throws and saw the Dogs take a 5 point advantage to the 4th quarter.
Cadence Graham would can another triple to begin the 4th and push the lead to 6.
Hellgate wouldn’t go away though as they canned a triple at the other end after hitting 1 of 2 at the line on their next possession, 41-39 timeout Bulldogs with 5:37 to play.
Hellgate kept the pressure up all night and forced the Dogs in to some travels for turnovers and Hellgate held a 5 point advantage with 1:24 to play.
Hellgate would seal the deal with free throws and great ball movement and beat the Dogs 48-41 in crunch time.
Cadence Graham had 21 points to lead all scorers, Brityn Stewart had 8, Taylor Drakos had 6, Ashlinn Mullaney had 4, and Franki Salusso had 2 for Butte High.
Chloe Larson led the way for Hellgate with 17 poits, Ali’s Mund had 10, Elly Reed had 8, Gianna Passuccio had 5, Paisley Johnson and Carmen Anderson had 3 apiece and Shannon Kane had 2.
Butte will get a much need break and return to court action February 9th when the welcome Kalispell Glacier to town.