HAMILTON — The Maroons were playing for more than themselves Saturday night.
Playing with heavy hearts, Butte Central’s boys’ basketball team beat Hamilton 46-37 in the championship game of the Western A Divisional tournament on the Dale Berry Court. (Stats)
“That was really a good win for us,” Butte Central coach Brodie Kelly said. “To come out on top of that field of eight teams really says something.”
Central’s players all wrote “4 Lee” on their undershirts in honor of Lee LaBreche, who passed away Saturday. Before the game, a moment of silence was held in honor of the former BC coach and teacher who was the director of the Maroon Activities Center at the time of his death.
The Maroons will take a 19-4 record into the Class A State tournament March 7-9 in Great Falls. BC will open at noon March 7 against Laurel, the fourth-place team from the Eastern A
The tournament, which will also feature Billings Central, Hardin, Livingston, Browning and Frenchtown along with Hamilton and Butte Central, promise to be one for the ages
“You better buy your tickets early,” Kelly said “It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Of course, the Maroons are coming off a big-time tournament. After rolling Libby on Thursday, the Maroons outlasted Browning in overtime to set up their fourth meeting with Hamilton.
The Broncs and Maroons split in the regular season. Hamilton won last week in the Southwestern A District championship game at the Maroon Activities Center.
Once again, it was defense that led the way for the Maroons. Hamilton shot just 28 percent from the field.
“It was solid defense all the way around,” Kelly said of the win that BC led almost wire to wire. “We played really good defense. We challenged everything.”
Braden Harrington scored 13 points to lead the balanced BC offense. Cade Holter added nine points and nine rebounds, while Dylan Sestrich chipped in eight points and seven boards.
Jared Simkins scored seven points in the win, Luke Heaphy and Matt Simkins each scored four, and Gator Yelenich tossed in one. Aaron Richards and Trevor Neumann also contributed for BC in the win.
Kelly pointed to the defensive play of Matt Simkins, who helped hold Hunter Omlid, the MVP of the district tournament, to seven points. He also pointed out the defense of Heaphy, who was in charge of Cameron Rothie. He scored four points.
Carson Rostad, the reigning Montana Gatorade Player of the year in football, scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while the BC student section chanted “water’s better.” Tanner Goligoski tossed in 11 points.
“Everybody stepped up and made plays,” Kelly said. “It was that way the all three games.”
Hamilton, will open the state tournament at 6:30 p.m. March 7 against Livingston.