Butte Central girl rally into Southwestern A title game

Butte Central girl rally into Southwestern A title game
Butte Central's Bella Sorini looks to get off a shot between Dillon's Jordyn McKay (12) and Kylee Pittman (30) Friday night at the Maroon Activities Center. BC's Emma Keeley, left, and Shea Davis are also show. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

The game couldn’t have started much worse for the Butte Central girls’ basketball team Friday night.

Dillon jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the semifinals of the Southwestern A District tournament at the Maroon Activities Center, and the Maroons looked like they might not ever score.

The night, though, couldn’t have ended any better for the Maroons.

Central scored the first 15 points of the fourth quarter to overcome a double-digit deficit in a 58-47 win over the rival Beavers. (Stats)

The 58 points was a season high for the Maroons (8-11).

BC will play Hamilton (12-8) in Saturday’s 8 p.m. championship game. The Maroons also punched their ticket to next week’s Western A Divisional tournament in Hamilton. (Bracket)

So, you’ll have to excuse a young team that nobody expected to win many games three months ago for having so much fun as it pulled away for the post season win.

“We were just rolling,” said BC junior Emma Keeley, who poured in a game-high 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the win. “We were feeling it, and we just kept shooting and playing defense.”


Central, which trailed 35-25 in the third quarter, entered the fourth quarter staring at a 41-37 deficit.

Keeley scoured the first six points of the final frame. She opened with a 3-pointer. Then she tied the game at 41 with a free throw with 6 minutes, 42 seconds left in the game.

Thirty-four seconds later, Keeley put the Maroons up for good at 43-41 with a putback.

Then freshman Sofee Thatcher hit a baseline 3-pointer. Then sophomore Delaney Hasquet sank a three. Then senior Tricia Joyce buried a long ball.

That put the Maroons up 52-41, and the MAC was rocking. The BC student section was going crazy, and the players on the BC bench were jumping up and down.

“It was a fun one,” Keeley said. “It was just a team win. We really worked together tonight. It was an exciting one.”

The Maroons scored their final six points from the free throw line to put the game away.

That was an ending that nobody would have predicted for the first three quarters, especially after Kylee Pittman sank a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 Dillon run to open the game.

Central got off some good shots in that span, but nothing would fall until Keeley scored in the paint with 2:41 left in the first quarter.

“They weren’t falling, and we were just kind of relaxing on defense instead of getting up and pressuring,” Keeley said. “Once we started moving on defense, the shots started to fall.”

BC coach Meg Murphy attributed the slow start to first-game nerves.

“It didn’t surprise me,” Murphy said. “That bye is tough because those kids still have those jitters. Dillon got theirs out last night.”

Sophomore Amira Bolton scored off a pass from Hasquet before Joyce stole the ball and fed Thatcher for a hoop to cut the lead to 9-6.

Tylia DeJohn scored late in the first quarter to extend the lead to 11-6.

Thatcher gave the Maroons the lead at 15-13 with 6:08 left in the second quarter. That was the first of six lead changes before the Beavers scored five straight to take a 29-23 lead into halftime.

Dillon scored six of the first eight points of the third quarter, and the Beavers led 35-25 when DeJohn hit a free throw with 5:30 left in the stanza.

Thatcher hit a three, Bolton sank a two, Keeley buried a three, and Bolton took a steal for the distance for a bucket to tie the game at 35 with 2:10 left.

“We picked each other up when we needed it, and we helped each other out when we needed it,” Keeley said.

Josey Jones, a junior who scored a team-leading 15 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers around a Thatcher bucket to give Dillon the 41-37 lead with 8 minutes to go.

That was the end of the good news for the Beavers (6-14), who play Frenchtown (8-11) in an 11 a.m. loser-out game Saturday at the MAC. The winner of that contest moves to the third-place game and books a trip to divisionals.

Thatcher scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Bolton and Joyce tossed in six points, Bella Sorini and Maddie Kump netted four apiece, and Hasquet finished with three.

Shea Davis started and contributed for the Maroons, who also got youngsters Avery Kelly, Payton Hartwick and Rileigh McGree into the game.

Joyce also had four assists and seven steals. Thatcher handed out five assists.

“What can you say about Tricia Joyce?” Murphy asked rhetorically. “People focus on her, and they hate her. They don’t like playing against her.”

“She hit a big shot, too. She knew it was going in, and you just love it when she does that.”

DeJohn joined Jones in double figures with 11. Dillon also got eight points from freshman Ainsley Shipman, seven from Pittman and two apiece from Jordyn McKay, Madalen Shipman and Lauryn Peterson.

Anne Larson and Evey Hansen also played for Dillon.

Murphy had praise for players up and down her lineup. She pointed to Kump, a sophomore who wasn’t happy with her performance in last Saturday’s loss at Corvallis.

“She’s a kid after Corvallis who said, ‘I’m going to make a difference,’” Murphy said. “I thought she did. She hit some shots and she played good defense.”

Murphy also pointed out the defense of Bolton.  “Amira Bolton was a big difference for us because she shut Josey Jones down,” Murphy said.. When we went man and put Amira on her, she didn’t score.”

Thatcher had her best game in a while, too, Murphy said.

“Sofee Thatcher struggled the last two weeks, and she brought a big game tonight,” the coach said.

Murphy also had nice things to say about Sorini, a senior who has battled a laundry list of injuries and seems to get better each game.

“Bella Sorini played her butt off,” Murphy said.

The coach had the most praise for Davis, a player who went out for the team because the Maroons needed bodies. BC’s entire roster has 13 names.

“I’m so proud of that kid,” Murphy said. “Any minutes she gives us are big minutes. She’s the reason we’re where we are. If we had to play with 10 or 11 kids, it’s a whole different thing.”

Now the Maroons are moving on at least one more week. They get one more game on their home court first.

When the title game tips off, the Maroons will probably still be smiling about Friday’s victory.

“That’s a big one,” Keeley said. “It’s always a big game against Dillon, but we’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”

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