Christmas break just got a little better for the Butte High boys’ basketball team.
The Bulldogs knocked off Kalispell Glacier, 60-42, Tuesday night in a non-conference game at the Butte Civic Center. The win was the first for the Bulldogs, and it came in convincing fashion.
“It feels great going into conference play after break,” said Butte High senior post Dylan Cook, who scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. “We’ve got a lot of momentum now. We know how to play with each other. We’ve got a team chemistry going.”
The Bulldogs (1-4) never trailed in the victory.
After the Wolfpack won the tipoff, Butte High set the tone for the game with an impressive defensive stand that ended when senior guard Trey Hoagland hit the floor to recover a loose ball.
The Bulldogs turned the turnover into points when Cook kicked the ball out to junior Travis Williams, who found nothing but net on a 3-point attempt.
“Both teams were kind of tight at the start,” Cook said. “Then Travis hit that three and loosened us up.”
Junior Brock Powell, who scored 16 points, hit the next two buckets as the Bulldogs demonstrated that team chemistry with a 17-7 run to open the game. Five of Butte High’s seven first-quarter field goals came off an assist.
The Bulldogs led 17-9 after Glacier’s Jake Norberg banked in a shot as time expired at the end of the first quarter.
Butte High, though, held the Wolfpack to just three field goals in the third quarter, taking a 34-22 edge into halftime.
Dylan Ruggles tried to end the second quarter the same way Norberg closed the first. Cook, however, rejected the buzzer-beating show with authority.
“Defensively we played better than we probably have all year,” Cook said before correcting himself. “It’s easily the best defense we played all year.”
The Wolfpack outscored Butte High 11-7 in the third quarter to pull within 41-33 heading into the final 8 minutes.
Then, Cook and Powell took over. The Butte High big men combined to hit 16 of 21 shots from the field. Cook grabbed seven rebounds, and Powell came within one rebound of a double-double.
Cook scored Butte High’s first 10 points of the final frame. Then Powell hit a 3-pionter from the corner to start a personal 7-0 run that put the game away. The Bulldogs led 56-39 following that run.
“We’re going to be pretty tough when we get that kind of inside presence going,” Butte High first-year head coach Luke Powers said. “Our guard play is improving too. I think they’re just slowing down a little big.”
Guard Ryson Lovshin scored seven points all in the first half, while Evan Anderson came off the bench to score eight points.
The Bulldogs got four points from freshman Kash Kelly, who got passing grades in his first varsity game. Williams ended with three, while Kyle Klapin scored two points.
Along with Hoagland, Butte High also got contributes from Will O’Connor, Kiley Caprara, Austin Lee, Lathan Ricketts, Riley Riordan.
“They stayed really positive, and I think they understand that we have a chance to improve and be competitive down the stretch,” Powers said of his team’s attitude following the 0-4 start. “That’s the goal. The goal wasn’t to start 5-0.”
Noah Lindsay and John Learn each scored seven points to lead Glacier, which fell to 2-2. Tadan Gilman scored six points, while Drake Dulin, Jake Willich and Norberg each scored five.
The Bulldogs held the Wolfpack in check using mostly man-to-man defense.
“We are really, really improving our basic man to man,” Powers said. “The first couple of games we were running into each other, setting screens on each other. Now we’re opening up the way we should be and slipping through screens.
“We spend 15 minutes on man-to-man defense every day,” Powers said. “They hate it, but it works.”
Butte High also used a 1-2-2 half-court defense.
“It paid dividends,” Powers said. “We got them to throw the ball away a few times.”
Butte High will take six days off before returning to practice next Monday.
“I think it’s kind of a money off their back,” Powers said. “It’s a monkey off my back, and it’s exciting. It was a fun win.”
KALISPELL GLACIER (2-2) — Noah Lindsay 0 7-8 7, Dylan Ruggles 1 2-2 4, John Learn 3 1-4 7, Tadan Gilman 3 0-0 6, Jake Norberg 2 0-0 5, Caden Harkins 0 0-0 0,, Collin kazmier 2 0-2 5, Kady Jarvis 0 0-0 0, Brec Rademacher 0 0-0 , Jake Willich 2 0-0 5, Pat O’Connell 1 0-0 2, Torin Bowden 0 0-1 0. Totals 14 11-19 42.
BUTTE HIGH (1-4) — Ryson Lovshin 3 0-2 7, Trey Hoagland 0 0-0 0, Travis Williams 1 0-0 3, Dylan Cook 9 2-2 20, Brock Powell 7 1-1 16, Will O’ Connor 0 0-0 0, Kiley Caprara 0 0-0 0, Evan Anderson 3 1-2 8, Austin Lee 0 0-0 0, Kash Kelly 0 4-4 4, Kyle Klapan 1 0-0 2, Riley Riordan 0 0-0 0, Lathan Ricketts 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 8-11 60.
Kalispell Glacier 9 13 11 9 — 42
Butte High 17 17 7 19 — 60
3-point goals — Kalispell 3 (Dulin 1, Willich 1,, Norberg 1), Butte 4 (Lovshin, Anderson, Williams, Cook). Fouls — Kalispell 13, Butte 18. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.