By Derek Hendrickson
The Butte Central Maroons didn’t play perfectly Friday night, but their dominant play built them a 30-point lead after three quarters and they cruised to a 48-27 Southwestern Conference win over the Corvallis Blue Devils at the Maroon Activity Center.
The smothering defense nearly forced as many turnovers as the Blue Devils had shot attempts in the first half, as Corvallis was 3-11 from the field but coughed up ten turnovers as Central pulled out to a 27-8 lead at the break.
The final score was aided by a 10-0 Corvallis run to end the game as Maroons head coach Brodie Kelly was able to pull his regulars from the game with about half of the final quarter left to go, giving the starters a break and the subs some valuable varsity minutes.
“I love what we’re are doing right now,” Kelly said. “I just love the way we are playing defense right now. I think we held them to 14 points with about 3 or 4 minutes to go, they got a whole bunch late. I like the way our guys are playing defense, helping each other, I just can’t say enough about how great that was for that long.”
Central’s offense was as balanced as it’s been all year. No Maroon was able to crack double figures but that certainly wasn’t a bad thing as 6 different players had six or more points.
“Our guys are capable of that,” Kelly said in reference to the depth of his team’s scoring output. “I thought a couple guys who stood out tonight, Cade Holter was awesome, he came in with a lot of confidence tonight and was playing really hard, getting his hand on the ball and hitting that deep shot. Matt Simkins’ effort was phenomenal and so was Jared’s. Getting to the glass is huge for us. Everybody was playing their role tonight and playing it well.”
The rebounding was a noticeable stat as the Maroons bullied the Blue Devils on the boards, almost doubling them up with a 28-15 edge. Central pulled down 12 offensive rebounds and shot nearly 50 percent for the game, 18 of 40, meaning they got more of their misses than Corvallis did.
Nate McGree led the way scoring with nine, which felt like a little bit of a letdown as he appeared to be on his way to a monster night as he tallied all of his total points in the first quarter.
The game started with big points as Corvallis opened the scoring on a Ridge Albright triple but the Maroons ripped off the next 10 points and the game would never be a one possession affair the rest of the way.
Cade Holter was the next one on the scoring list with eight and had the shot of the night, which Coach Kelly referenced, when he drained a three pointer to end the first that came from about halfway between the free throw line and mid-court line on the opposite end of the court. That shot gave Central a 13-6 lead after one and propelled them to a 14-2 advantage in the second quarter as Corvallis was clearly out of sorts.
The Blue Devils managed just 1 of 6 shooting in the second to go with 5 turnovers and the Maroons hit 5 of 7 in what was a slow paced and methodically played frame.
Sam Johnston joined Holter with eight points, dished out six assists and had four steals in making life miserable for Tylor Nixon, Corvallis’ top player.
Tanner Kump and Matt Simkins each chipped in 7 points and also contributed in other ways on the stat sheet.
Kump added a pair of steals that led to easy breakaway buckets and Simkins had nine rebounds, seven of which were offensive boards that helped give the Maroons second chance opportunities all game long.
Luke Heaphy scored 2 and Jared Simkins had a point to round out the Central scoring. Archie Petritz, Aaron Richards, Tyge Yelenich, Zach Carlson and Hunter Hartwick all saw action in the fourth quarter as well.
“It was good balance, good sharing the ball, finding the open man and they were for good shots,” Kelly added. “If we can keep stringing together stops like that I think the confidence will take care of itself.”
The win was a big one for Butte Central in that it guaranteed them a winning record heading to the post season, as they improve to 10-7 overall, which includes wins in 7 of 8 and 8 of 10.
“It’s a relief, after we were 2-5 and 3-6; in the last 8 games we’ve won 7 and we played really well in the one game we lost, so 8 games in a row to be playing better and I really feel like we are continuing to improve throughout this stretch,” Kelly said about the win streak. “The more these young guys play the more confidence they’re getting and I just really like what we are doing right now.”
The Maroons also locked up the number 3 seed in the Southwestern A with a 4-4 mark and are on a collision course to meet Frenchtown in the first round of the Western Super Divisional to be played in Hamilton in two weeks.
Central knocked off the Broncs 61-51 in what was the Maroons second game of the season.
Before any of that becomes the main focus though, Central has another team they will see for the second time when Belgrade comes to town on Valentine’s Day.
The boys’ game will cap the doubleheader and will celebrate Senior Parent Night for this outstanding Central senior class.
The Panthers thumped the Maroons 57-41 in December but Central will bring a much improved team to the court for the rematch and will be on their home floor.
“We know they are a really good basketball team and our guys will be really excited to play Senior Night and Belgrade will be a really good opponent to be playing,” Kelly said in advance of the season finale Tuesday night. “That’s good for us this time of year to get ready for the tournament and I think our guys will be excited.”
Corvallis drops to 4-11 on the season and 2-4 in Conference. They have a couple of tough games left as they will travel to both Hamilton and Dillon before the end of the regular season.
Nixon led the Blue Devils with 13 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter with the game long since decided. Corvallis scored more points in the final frame, 15 than they did in the first three quarters combined, 12.
CORVALLIS (4-11, 2-4) — Ridge Albright 2-2 0-0 6, Kolton Mahan 0-4 0-0 0, Tylor Nixon 6-13 0-0 13, Zach Jessop 0-4 0-0 0, Kobe Jessop 0-3 0-0 0, Liang Liedle 1-1 0-0 3, Caeson Jessop 0-2 0-0 0, Garrett Brown 1-1 1-2 3, Ryal Jessop 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 11-31 1-2 27.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-7, 4-4) — Sam Johnston 2-5 3-4 8, Tanner Kump 3-5 0-0 7, Nate McGree 4-9 1-1 9, Dan McCloskey 2-7 0-0 6, Luke Heaphy 1-2 0-1 2, Cade Holter 3-6 0-1 8, Matt Simkins 3-5 1-2 7, Jared Simkins 0-0 1-2 1, Archie Petritz 0-0 0-0 0, Tyge Yelenich 0-0 0-1 0, Zach Carlson 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter Hartwick 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Richards 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-40 6-12 48.
Corvallis. 6 2 4 15 — 27
Butte Central 13 14 15 6 — 48
3-point goals — BC 6-16 (Holter 2-3, McCloskey 2-6, Kump 1-3, Johnston 1-3, Heaphy 0-1), Corvallis 4-13 (Albright 2-2, Liedle 1-1, Nixon 1-6, Mahan 0-2, Z Jessop 0-2). Fouls — BC 7, Corvallis 15. Fouled out — K Jessop. Technicals — Nixon. Turnovers — BC 11, Corvallis 19. Rebounds — BC 28 (M Simkins 9), Corvallis 15 (Z Jessop 4). Blocks — BC 1 (J Simkins), Corvallis 1 (Brown). Assists — BC 11 (Johnston 6), Corvallis 3 (K Jessop 2).