Bulldogs repel fierce Braves boys’ basketball rally

By Bruce Sayler

This time, the nightmare didn’t recur. Butte High didn’t succumb.

The Bulldogs fended off a hard-challenging Flathead High team from Kalispell for a 63-54 Western AA Conference high school boys’ basketball victory Tuesday in the Butte Civic Center.

The game had originally been scheduled for January 13, but postponed because of hazardous road conditions.

Late doldrums wiped out a nice start for Butte High in a 57-49 loss at Missoula Big Sky Friday, the Bulldogs’ last game prior to the Tuesday makeup. A 20-point Butte High lead over Flathead in the fourth quarter (25 in the third) Tuesday dwindled to six points under a barrage of Braves’ 3-pointers before the Bulldogs prevailed.

“I think we were thinking we’d played great for three quarters and we were done after three,” Butte High head coach Matt Luedtke said, the smoke billowing from his ears almost visible. “But, the MHSA passed a rule several years ago that said we have to play all four quarters, and we’d better start practicing it.”
Butte High held a 48-23 command with 1 minute, 16 seconds left in the third quarter following a 6-0 run on baskets by reserves Braylon Larson, Torre Tempel and Spencer Callaghan. Flathead lopped three points off the difference on two free throws by Gabriel St. Germain and one by Gabriel Sims. It was 48-26 going into the last period.

A minute-and-a-half 8-0 surge accentuated by two David Moody baskets, one a 3-pointer, pulled the Braves to 56-42 with 2:59 on the clock. A bucket by Larson, the fast-improving 6-foot-6 freshman, interrupted the Flathead outburst. However, Lyric Ersland and St. Germain connected on back-to-back 3-pointers and Moody tacked on a three-point play and, suddenly, the gap had melted to 58-51 with a minute left.

After Hudson Luedtke scored off a Larson pass to put two more points on the Butte High side of the scoreboard, Sims responded for the Braves with an and-one. Thirty seconds remained and the Bulldogs led 60-54. Flathead, however, was unable to score again and Rueso Battermann iced the victory for Butte High by converting three of four foul shots in the final 18 seconds.

Flathead heated up for five 3-pointers on the way to 28 fourth-quarter points. The Braves had meshed only one trey the first three frames.
“We were up by 25 or 26 points and they hit a lot 3s,” coach Luedtke said. “They were open 3s, but they hit them. We got a little stagnant, like we did against Big Sky. We didn’t finish properly.”

Butte High led all the way, starting with a 15-0 burst to start the game. Hudson Luedtke started it with a basket-and-one, then Bo Demarais stuck back two rebounds in a row, Tocher Lee stretched net strings with a pair of 3-pointers and Battermann laid in an inbound pass from Luedtke under the basket.
The Braves didn’t crack the scoreboard until Korbin Eaton came off the bench to tally the first of his three 3-pointers with 3:28 to go in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs’ lead was 21-9 after one period and then Flathead rallied. The Braves got to within 21-15 before Butte High rode the “L” train to close the half on a 13-4 run with Lee, Larson and Luedtke doing all the Bulldogs’ scoring. It was 34-19 at intermission.

“They came to play and it was a really physical game,” Matt Luedtke said. “Our guys got banged up. There was some stuff that didn’t get called. There were a lot of big, strong kids out there.”
An oddity was a third quarter in which the Bulldogs scored 14 points — two each by seven different players.

The Bulldogs will return to action on Thursday with a 7 p.m. Western AA game against Helena Capital in the Civic Center.

“Hopefully, we can rest tonight and have a light practice tomorrow (Wednesday),” coach Luedtke said, “and get ready for Capital.

“(The season) is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Lee and Luedtke finished with 13 points each to lead Butte High scoring. Battermann and Larson put in nine apiece, Dylan “Bobby” Bache had seven, Demarais six, Tempel four and Callaghan two. Colton Shea and Trey McCarthy also played. Luedtke and Demarais each pulled down nine rebounds and Luedtke dished six assists. Battermann came up with six steals.

The Bulldogs evened their records to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in conference with the win.
The Braves stayed winless at 0-8 and 0-4. They were led Tuesday by Sims and Eaton with 11 points apiece. Ersland and Moody scored eight each. Sims and Brody Thronesberry led all rebounders with 10 boards each.

KALISPELL FLATHEAD (0-8, 0-4) – Stephen Riley 0-0 0-0 0, Brodee Zahn 0-6 1-2 1, Lyric Ersland 3-9 1-2 8, Gabriel Sims 4-13 3-7 11, Brody Thornsberry 2-4 0-0 4, Dustyn Franchini-White 0-0 2-2 2, David Moody 3-4 1-1 8, Korbin Eaton 4-4 0-0 11, Tyler Williams 0-6 0-0 0, Gabriel St. Germain 3-6 2-2 9. Totals 19-52 10-16 54.
BUTTE HIGH (4-4, 2-2) – Tocher Lee 3-8 5-6 13, Bo Demarais 3-8 0-0 6, Dylan Bache 1-5 4-6 7, Hudson Luedtke 4-9 5-5 13, Rueso Battermann 2-9 5-6 9, Braylon Larson 4-9 1-4 9, Torre Tempel 2-3 0-0 4, Colton Shea 0-0 0-0 0, Trey McCarthy 0-1 0-0 0, Spencer Callaghan 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-55 20-27 63.
Flathead 9 10 7 28 – 54
Butte High 21 13 14 15 – 63
3-point goals – Flathead 6-16 (Zahn 0-2, Ersland 1-5, Moody 1-2, Eaton 3-3, Williams 0-3, St. Germain 1-1), Butte 3-11 (Lee 2-6, Bache 1-2, Tempel 0-1, McCarthy 0-1, Callaghan 0-1). Fouled out – Demarais. Total fouls – Flathead 27, Butte 20. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Flathead 42 (Sims 10, Thronesberry 10), Butte 39 (Demarais 9, Luedtke 9). Blocks – Flathead 2 (Ersland 2), Butte 3 (Larson 2). Assists – Flathead 9 (Franchini-White 3), Butte 13 (Luedtke 6). Steals – Flathead 3 (Three with one eac11 (Battermann 6). Turnovers – Flathead 22, Butte 11.

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