Butte High boys stay hot, turn back Flathead

By Bruce Sayler

The defense generated the offense as Butte High picked apart Flathead of Kalispell for a 63-53 high school boys’ basketball win Thursday at the Butte Civic Center.

The non-conference Class AA victory gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 record heading into the holiday break.

“It was fun,” Butte High head coach Luke Powers said. “The kids did a nice job of carrying (the strategy) out.”

Two big halves by individual players kept the Bulldogs’ fuse lit. Brock Powell finished with 25 points, scoring 19 in the second half, 10 of which were tallied in the fourth quarter. Guard Ryson Lovshin nailed five 3-point baskets on the way to a 17-point first half. He added two free throws in the second half after the Braves were forced to chase him out on defense.

Evan Anderson augmented the shooting attack with nine points worth of 3-pointers while wing Travis Williams and point guard Kash Kelly found the hot hands and fed them the ball.

“Brock’s scoring on the inside was set up by the good shooting by Ryson and Evan,” Powers said. “Ryson hit five 3s in the first half and a couple of other attempts were in-and-out. He and Evan made the defense come out and that freed Brock up inside.”

The game was a good one. Lead exchanges took place through the first quarter, which ended with Butte High ahead by 16-15 after Anderson netted a trey with 5 seconds left. The five field goals the Bulldogs made in the second quarter included four 3-pointers as they took a 30-28 edge to the locker room at halftime. Lovshin caged three of the 3s in the period, Anderson hit the othern

The third quarter was where Butte High established control against the bigger Braves.

Powell foiled the Flathead defense by stepping out for a 3-pointer and Anderson tacked on ahother 40 seconds later as the Bulldogs launched a 9-0 run in the middle of the frame. Austin Lee followed with two foul shots and Kelly connected for one. The surge gave Butte High a 43-32 advantage.

Williams fed both 3s that began the run and again played lock-down defense.

“It’s kind of my thing,” he said about his defensive prowess. “I think it gets the team going and helps keep it going.”

Powers said Williams “could draw more charges if he wasn’t so dang strong. He takes the hits instead of going down to the floor.”

The six rebounds he pulled down were key Thursday, as were his seven assists on deft inside plassing. HIs assists matched Kelly’s total to share team-high.

“Even for how tall (6-foot-2) I am, I’m still an outside guy,” Williams insisted. “I like trying to set my teammates up (for baskets) all the time.”

The Butte High lead was 49-36 after the third quarter and the Bulldogs maintained the rest of the way. The Braves fired up their offense as Wyatt Potter found the range from 3-point territory for two makes and whittled the difference to 57-49. Just a little more than 3 minutes remained.

Powell responded with a finish on a pass from Williams and Lovshin sank two free throws. The win was iced.

The win had to be earned  because neither squad gave up much in the way off opportunity. They totaled only a dozen turnovers between them — seven charged to the Braves, five to the Bulldogs.

“It’s fun to watch our offense come together,” Powers said. “Defense is something we have to dwell on. It’s our staple. We practice man-to-man every day and we can press a little, too.

“Possession for possession, we have to be strong on the defensive end.”

The coach said he thought the Braves’ 28 points were too many to yield in the first half, but conceded the opponents had to work for all of them — almost.

“There were a couple on the baseline, I thought were too easy for them,” he said with a nod and a smile.”We have a roomful of kids who believe in themselves and who think they can compete with anybody in the state.”

Williams seconded the motion.

“Coming off of last season, I thought we would do this,” the senior said of the 4-2 start on the season. “And of our losses, it was a tough game with Helena High and we should never have lost by 26 points to Hellgate.”

Potter led Flathead with 12 points and Cade White scored 11 off the bench. Tyler Johnson finished with nine points and Bridger Johnson with eight. Potter, Sam Elliott and White were rebound leaders for the team with four apiece. The Braves also have a 4-2 record.

Lee scored six points before leaving the floor with an aggravation to his shoulder injury. Kelly had three points and Williams finished with one. Tommy Mellott also played several minutes.

Powers said Lee is trying to play through a torn labrum on which reparative surgery will be performed after the basketball season.


KALISPELL FLATHEAD (4-2) — Cooper Barrett 0-1 0-0 0, Wyatt Potter 4-7 1-2 12, Bridger Johnson 4-4 0-0 8, Tyler Johnson 4-7 1-4 9, Sam Elliott 3-8 0-0 7, Eric Seaman 1-2 0-0 2, Cade White 5-7 1-3 11, Cole Gunderson 0-2 2-2 2, Andy Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Anthony Jones 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 21-38 7-13 53.

BUTTE HIGH (4-2) — Kash Kelly 1-3 1-3 3, Evan Anderson 3-7 0-0 9, Ryson Lovshin 6-11 2-2 19, Travis Williams 0-1 1-2 1, Brock Powell 11-16 2-2 25, Austin Lee 1-1 4-5 6, Tommy Mellott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-39 10-14 63.

Flathead 15 13 8 17 — 53

Butte High 16 14 19 14 — 63

3-point goals — Flathead 4-11 (Barrett 0-1, Potter 3-4, T. Johnson 0-3, Elliott 1-3), Butte 9-18 (Kelly 0-1, Anderson 3-6, Lovshin 5-9, Williams 0-1, Powell 1-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Flathead 17, Butte 14. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Flathead 18 (Potter 4, Elliott 4, White 4), Butte 20 (Williams 6, Powell 4). Blocks — Flathhead 2 (Elliott 2), Butte 3 (Powell 2). Assists — Flathead 11 (Seaman 5), Butte 17 (Williams 7, Kelly 7). Steals — Flathead 5 (Barrett 2), Butte 3 (Kelly 2). Turnovers — Flathead 7, Butte 5.