Butte High girls keep winning

Taking a shot was arduous enough for Billings Skyview. Having it be a clear one was just about impossible and so making it was an awfully lot to ask against the kind of defense Butte High threw against the Falcons.

“The kids played very good defense,” Butte High head coach Jeff Arntson said after the Bulldogs bounced Billings Skyview 52-30 Friday night in an Eastern AA Conference high school girls’ basketball game played in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High. “We went to sleep a little bit offensively, but anytime you can hold a pretty good basketball team like Skyview to 30 points, it’s a good defensive effort.”

Scoring the first 18 points of the game, which the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs did, helps the cause, too.

“I think we forced a lot of turnovers,” Arntson said. “We got a lot of steals right off the bat and got a good lead on them.”

Butte High caused the Falcons to commit 19 turnovers, 11 of which were steals. Sammy McGree led the offense with 20 points, the only double-digit scorer in the game, and Natalee Faupel yanked down a game-high nine rebounds. Point guard Hattie Thatcher collected five assists, five steals and six rebounds in another very good all-around performance as Butte High won for the 11th straight time.

McGree tallied the first points of the game on a basket-and-one as she was hacked on a drive and netted the free throw. The early spree continued with a Hailey Hoagland floater, McGree short-range jumper, Faupel basket-and-one that capped a steal and layin, Carlie Haeffner layup off a Thatcher dish, consecutive baskets by Mariah Richardson — in fresh off the bench — with a runner and then an assist from Thatcher, and a Faupel drive to the hoop.

Skyview finally broke through  when Hannah Stott glassed in a layup with 2 minutes,  13 seconds left in the first quarter. Stott put in two more baskets in the period for all six Falcon points in the frame, but Skyview never really did seriously challenge for the lead.

The first quarter ended with Butte High leading 22-6 and the halftime score was 30-16.

“We suited 15 kids and played 15 kids,” Arntson said. “We tried to rest some of our kids a little bit tonight because we have another big game, with Billings West, (Saturday).

“Sammy McGree (7-for-8 from the field) had another great night shooting the ball and Mariah Richardson was very effective off the bench, both offensively and defensively. We’re continuing to develop our depth a little better. The kids play hard.”

Richardson wound up with nine points, seven of them in the first quarter. Hoagland and Haeffner notched six points each, and Thatcher, Erika McLeod and Ashten McCloskey each made a free throw. Andie Hogan, Maria Michelotti, McKaul Ori, Lexi Murphy, Bethany McLean, Alli Metz and Kassidy Caprara also contributed play to the win.

Stott led Skyview with nine points. Hailey Copinga and Morgan Webster registered six each.

“We’ve been putting a lot of effort into our defense the last couple of weeks and it’s beginning to show,” Arntson said. “That might be hurting our offense a little bit, though.”

The Bulldogs limited the Falcons to 12-for-46 shooting while converting 17 of 38 field goal attempts of their own.

The Bulldogs are locked in a first-place tie with Great Falls High, each with just one league loss atop the Eastern AA Conference standings. They split their regular-season series. The conference winner earns an automatic berth in the approaching state Class AA tournament.

“Both teams have three tough games left and anything can happen,” Arntson said.

Butte High’s next one is Saturday’s clash with Billings West, set for 4:30 in the Richardson gym. It will be the Bulldogs’ last home tilt of the regular season and will include the recognition of the parents of seniors Faupel, Thatcher and Haeffner prior to the game.

BILLINGS SKYVIEW (4-13, 1-9) — Hannah Stott 4-7 1-2 9, Jessica Spang 0-2 0-0 0, Morgan Covington 1-2 0-0 2, Taven Morrison 0-11 0-0 0, Hailey Copinga 2-6 2-3 6, Sarah McDermott 0-6 2-2 2, Alex Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Vanessa Newman 2-4 0-1 5, Morgan Webster 3-5 0-0 6, Katie Nessan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 12-46 5-8 30.

BUTTE HIGH (15-2, 8-1) — Hailey Hoagland 2-7 2-3 6, Natalee Faupel 3-7 2-3 8, Sammy McGree 7-8 6-8 20, Hattie Thatcher 0-4 1-2 1, Carlie Haeffner 2-4 2-3 6, Erika McLeod 0-0 1-2 1, Mariah Richardson 3-6 2-4 9, Andie Hogan 0-2 0-0 0, Maria Michelotti 0-0 0-0 0, McKaul Ori 0-0 0-0 0, Ashten McCloskey 0-0 1-2 1, Lexi Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Alli Metz 0-0 0-0 0, Bethany McLean 0-0 0-0 0, Kassidy Caprara 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-38 17-27 52.

Skyview                6          10           6          8  —  30

Butte High           22           8          10        12  —  52

3-point goals — Skyview 1-7 (Stott 0-1, Covington 0-1, Copinga 0-1, McDermott 0-1, Allen 0-1, Newman 1-2), Butte High 1-11 (Hoagland 0-2, Faupel 0-1, McGree 0-1, Thatcher 0-3, Richardson 1-2, Hogan 0-2). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Skyview 20, Butte High 13. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Skyview 30 (Copinga 7), Butte High 32 (Faupel 9). Blocks — Skyview 4 (Stott 1, Morrison 1, Allen 1, Newman 1), Butte High 1 (Michelotti). Assists — Skyview 5 (Stott 3), Butte High 8 (Thatcher 5). Steals — Skyview 4 (Nessan 1, Stott 1, Webster 1, Allen 1), Butte High 11 (Thatcher 5). Turnovers — Skyview 19, Butte High 14.