Butte High girls roll to seventh straight win

The way Natalee Faupel saw the situation, it was only a conference game. No state championship was at stake, not in this case, she noted with a grin.

So, just as matter-of-factly Faupel sank four free throws in the last 34 seconds to secure a 64-57 Butte High girls’ basketball victory over Bozeman Thursday night in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High.

“I knew I had to make them,” she said, saying the nerves weren’t fraying too badly for her during this crucial time.

An eight-point, 58-50 Bulldog lead was almost wiped out by a late Bozeman surge and the Hawks had drawn to within 58-55 of Butte High when Faupel hit her first very two clutch free throws. She wound up the game with an 8-for-8 ratio from the foul line on the way to a game-high 17 points.

It was a 58-55 spread after Hawk Trae Roderick scored on a drive to the hoop with a minute, 53 seconds left to play.

Butte High head coach Jeff Arntson opted for a four-corner ploy to play keep away with the inspired Bozeman girls. Time stopped at 1:04 when Hailey Hoagland of the Bulldogs drew a foul. She couldn’t coax her shot, the front end of a one-and-one, through the hoop and Amy Davis rebounded for the Hawks.

Ellie Hawthorne missed on a shot for Bozeman and Hoagland snared the rebound. Davis fouled Faupel, who had gotten the ball on a pass. Faupel made her two shots.

Roderick scored on the Hawks’ end of the court to cut the margin again to three points, 60-57, with 24 seconds on the clock. Faupel was fouled by Averie Collins with 18 seconds left and netted both freebies. The Hawks turned the ball over on a travel before Butte High point guard Hattie Thatcher closed out the scoring with two made charity tosses with a 10th of a second yet to melt off the clock. Her free throws brought the score to the 64-57 final. It was the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs’ seventh consecutive victory.

“Bozeman is a very good team,” Arntson acknowledged. “I thought our kids played well, except for stopping them from getting offensive glass. We played very good defense at times. Sammy McGree made some nice plays for us and Natalee Faupel made those clutch free throws.”

Faupel finished 8-for-8 from the foul line. She was also instrumental in defending Davis, the Bozeman standout who recently signed with Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference for college women’s basketball.

“Carlie (Haeffner) and Natalie did a good job containing her,” Arntson said, mentioning, too, that Averie Collins, yet another Bozeman standout, “is one of the best sophomores, if not the best sophomore, in the state.”

Davis and Roderick ended up with 16 points each and Collins with 12. Davis grabbed 12 rebounds and Collins took down 10.

“We were trying to get (Davis) to foul us a little bit,” Faupel said. “We knew it would help us a lot.”

Arntson said the  Bulldogs used isolation plays featuring Faupel against Davis a few times and the result was three first-half fouls charged against the Bozeman star before halftime.

McGree netted four 3-point baskets en route to 16 points and Thatcher scored 15.  Haeffner led the team on the boards with 10 rebounds. Thatcher dealt five assists and had three steals.

The Bulldogs rallied at the end of the first quarter to hold a 13-9 edge. Faupel caged a pair of free throws, Hoagland dropped in a runner and Thatcher capped the seven -point run with a 3-point basket.

A Collins 3-pointer helped Bozeman pull to within 18-17 in the second period before Butte High pulled away to a 29-17 halftime bulge following a run made up of four points by Haeffner, a trey by McGree and a successful drive to the hoop by Faupel.

The Bulldog advantage was 45-29 with 2:44 to go in the third quarter before the Hawks flew back on a Collins basket and foul shots made by Davis, Roderick and Hawthorne.

The fourth-quarter play was fairly even before Bozeman surged and Butte High weathered the attempted comeback.

“They cut it to three,” Arntson said. “They made their shots and got their stops. They’re well-coached. That 3-pointer by Davis was big for them.”

The Davis trey ignited the last Bozeman run. The Bulldogs quelled the rally, led by Faupel’s free throws.

The Bulldogs will be home against Eastern AA Conference preseason favorite Billings Senior on Saturday.

“This was a good team win and we’re glad to have it,” Arntson said. “Now, Senior’s coming to town Saturday. In the Eastern AA, anybody has the ability to beat anybody on any given night. Saturday’s game should be another donnybrook.”

Hoagland, troubled by fouls through much of the game, finished with seven points, Haeffner with five and Maria Michelotti with four. Erika McLeod and Andie Hogan also contributed good court time to the win.

BOZEMAN (7-6, 3-4) — Averie Collins 4-11 2-4 12, Sarah Carey 1-4 0-0 3, Amy Davis 7-15 1-2 16, Trae Roderick 6-12 4-6 16, Molly March 1-2 2-2 5, Ellie Hawthorne 1-4 3-4 5, Emerald Toth 0-0 0-0 0, Jacey Delaney 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 12-18 57.

BUTTE HIGH (11-2, 6-1)  — Sammy McGree 6-13 0-0 16, Carlie Haeffner 1-6 3-4 5, Hattie Thatcher 2-7 9-10 15, Natalee Faupel 4-9 8-8 17, Hailey Hoagland 2-8 3-5 7, Erika McLeod 0-1 0-0 0, Maria Michelotti 1-3 2-3 4, Andie Hogan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-47 25-30 64.

Bozeman                9           8          19          21  —  57

Butte High            13         16         18           17  —  64

3-point goals — Bozeman 5-18 (Collins 2-4, Carey 1-2, Davis 1-2, Roderick 0-4, March 1-2, Hawthorne 0-3, Delaney 0-1), Butte High 7-14 (McGree 4-6, Thatcher 2-3, Faupel 1-2, Hoagland 0-2, McLeod 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Bozeman 19, Butte High 15. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Bozeman 35 (Davis 12, Collins 10), Butte High 27 (Haeffner 10). Blocks — Bozeman 2 (Davis 1, Hawthorne 1), Butte High 0. Assists — Bozeman 9 (Roderick 4), Butte High 7 (Thatcher 5). Steals — Bozeman 5 (Roderick 3), Butte Hig 10 (Thatcher 3). Turnovers — Bozeman 20, Butte High 12.