This Thursday night Butte High and Butte Central renewed their long time battle on the basketball floor. The action begins with the girls’ game between the two schools at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. The boys’ contest will follow the girls match up.
The boys’ game between the Bulldogs and Maroons has a long history filled with many story lines. The most impressive statistic is the longevity of the game. When they tip the ball up this year, Central and Butte will be playing for the 97th straight school year in high school hoops. The streak dates back to 1918. Every year since then the two Butte schools have done battle on the hardwood floor at least once a year.
The 97-year consecutive streak is the oldest of any sporting event in the state of Montana. The state’s biggest annual event the Divide War football game between the Cats and Griz was started in 1897, however, for various reasons the game has not been played every year. The last interruption of that series came during World War II when neither the Griz or Cats fielded a football team between 1942-1945.
The same thing happened in basketball between the two Montana schools where World War II disrupted a long and heated rivalry.
The Butte High Anaconda series has a long history, but the two schools did not meet during the basketball season in 1987 and prior to that they also did not meet in 1939.
The Butte Central and Anaconda series also has been disrupted by games missed during the basketball season.
All that makes the Butte-Central match up that more amazing. It survived even after the longtime football game between the two schools went away following the 1991 contest. It survived when the two schools were placed in different classifications. It survived the bitter division that took place in 2006 when the two schools argued over playing one of the city title games in the new Maroon Activities Center. The contest has survived that all and continues to be one of the most anticipated sporting nights of the year in Butte.
Both schools have plenty of things to cherish in this epic series. Both sides have dominated at times through the years. The Bulldogs rattled off eleven straight wins in the last decade while the Maroons have taken the last three meetings and dominated the last decade of the previous century winning 9 of the 12 games played.
Overall, Butte High leads the series 95-75-1. The tie came in the first ever overtime game between the two in 1923. After two extra periods, officials called the game a tie when neither team could score.
They played against each other in the state championship in 1928 at the School of Mines’ gym with the Bulldogs winning 23-16. Butte has defeated Central five of the six meetings they have competed against each other in the state tournament.
The last state tournament clash was in 1963.
On the other hand the Maroons hold the edge in divisional tournament play winning 8 of 13 games. They topped Butte High and their coach Swede Dahlberg four straight times in divisional play between 1924 to 1950. Dahlberg coached in 45 city championship games, the most of any individual. The most by a Maroons’ skipper was 25 by Otto Simon.
There have been 18 head coaches who have led the Bulldogs on to the floor against the Maroons. Butte Central has had 28 different head skippers.
Only one person has been head coach at both schools during their career. John Thatcher was the Maroons’ skipper from 1977 to 1979 and led the Bulldogs from 2001 to 2010.
Butte High against Butte Central in high school basketball is a treasure for the history books and a diamond jewel for all who get a chance to watch this glorious rivalry. 1 comment