By Bruce Sayler
Butte High played its girls’ basketball like a relay on Friday, so it shouldn’t have been any surprise that track star/soccer star/basketball star Ally Cleverly gave the Bulldogs their fast start.
Cleverly scored the first six points of the game on her way to a game-high 20 in Butte High’s 53-29 Class AA non-conference victory over Flathead of Kalispell. The tilt was the first half of a doubleheader at the Butte Civic Center with the boys’ teams from the two schools playing in the nightcap.
“Al got us started,” Butte High head coach Maury Cook said. “Our guards were shooting the ball well and moving the ball well. Our transition game was working.”
Most facets were for the Bulldogs in what of their better-played games of recent memory.
Cleverly staked them to the 6-0 advantage on a three-point play earned on a drive, and a 3-point basket set up by a MaKenna Carpenter pass. Brittney Tierney’s coast-to-coast trip with a defensive rebound for a layup capped the opening 8-0 surge.
Taylor Henley sank a free throw to put Flathead on the scoreboard with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
“My teammates got me some great shots,” Cleverly, headed for Carroll College on combined basketball and soccer scholarships, said. “I had great warmups.
“We got it all together tonight. Everybody stepped up and our defense played great.”
Cook agreed, especially about his team’s defense.
“The biggest thing was our defense,” he said. “Haley (Herron) and Kira (Mortensen) shut that big girl (the 6-foot Henley) down and that was not an easy thing to do. We saw her on film and knew she was a great player.
“Also, we defended the perimeter well. (The Bravettes) didn’t get a lot of 3s down. I was really happy with our defense tonight, To hold them under 30 points is a big .deal.”
Henley finished with 12 points and nine rebounds to pace Flathead and had to work for every bit of it.
The Bravettes got to within 10-6 of Butte High before the Bulldogs closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run as Aspen Lovshin downed a pair of free throws before Tierney connected on jumpers from short and long range.
“We boarded the ball well,” Cleverly noted. “We had a great all-around game.”
Butte High’s lead was 24-9 after a Lovshin 3-pointer with 2:21 left in the half and the Bulldogs went to intermission packing a 29-16 advantage.
They put the Bravettes away in the third period.
Tierney and Herron netted foul shots and Cleverly scored off a pass from Herron to begin the half. Flathead answered with a scoring drive by Henly and a freebie put in by Maddie Walter. The Bravettes didn’t score again in the quarter. Butte High did.
The Bulldogs ran off 11 points in a row, the 6-2 Mortensen and Tierney canning four each before Cleverly caped the run with a 3-point punctuation. They took a 44-19 command into the last frame.
Mostly substitutes ran the anchor leg, the fourth quarter, as both teams let reserves finish the game.
“I’ve been in the varsity program since I was a freshman,” Cleverly said. “This is definitely exciting. Everybody is stepping up.”
The Bravettes were limited to three made 3-point tries and Henley was their only double-figure scorer. Emily Lembke captured eight rebounds and dealt a pair of assists. Flathead is now 2-2 for the season and is scheduled to next play on January 10 at Missoula Big Sky.
Butte High is 2-2 this season and will next play on January 5 at home against C.M. Russell of Great Falls to open Eastern AA Conference play. Cleverly was backed in the scoring columns against Flathead by Tierney with 12 points and Lovshin with 10. Mortensen and Trisha Ericson finished with four points each, Carpenter scored two, and Herron had one. Justise Birkenbuel, Grace McGrath, McCaul McCarthy and MacKenzie Tutty also played. Carpenter and Herron led the team on the boards with eight rebounds apiece, Lovshin passed out four assists and Tierney hustled up five steals.
“It was nice get a win in the front end of a doubleheader,” Cook said. “I hope we get a sweep tonight.”
However, a rousing Butte High rally was blunted in the nightcap as the Flathead boys prevailed, 55-51.
KALISPELL FLATHEAD (2-2) — Emily Lembke 0-4 0-0 0, Sadie Wilson 1-4 1-2 3, Maddie Walter 1-5 1-4 3, Jenna Johnson 2-9 1-2 7, Taylor Henley 4-14 4-6 12, Kaysie Malmin 0-0 1-2 1, Kayla Martin 0-0 0-2 0, Kennedy Kanter 1-5 0-0 3, Rebecca Eacker 0-1 0-0 0, Kuyra Siegel 0-0 0-0 0, Bridget Crowley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 9-43 8-18 29.
BUTTE HIGH (2-2) — Aspen Lovshin 1-7 7-8 10, MaKenna Carpenter 1-3 0-0 2, Ally Cleverly 7-13 3-3 20, Haley Herron 0-2 1-2 1, Brittney Tierney 4-9 3-5 12, Kira Mortensen 2-6 0-1 4, Justise Birkenbuel 0-1 0-0 0, Trisha Ericson 2-3 0-0 4, Grace McGrath 0-1 0-0 0, McCaul McCarthy 0-0 0-0 0, MacKenzie Tutty 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 14-19 53.
Flathead 6 10 3 10 — 29
Butte High 17 12 15 9 — 53
3-point goals — Flathead 3-13 (Lembke 0-1, Wilson 0-1, Walter 0-2, Johnson 2-5, Henley 0-1, Kanter 1-3), Butte 5-22 (Lovshin 1-6, Carpenter 0-2, Cleverly 3-6, Herron 0-1, Tierney 1-5, Birkenbuel 0-1, Ericson 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Flathead 14, Butte 16. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Flathead 40 (Henley 9, Lembke 8), Butte 36 (Carpenter 8, Herron 8). Blocks — none. Assists — Flathead 6 (Lembke 2), Butte 11 (Lovshin 4, Cleverly 3, Herron 2). Steals — Flathead 6 (six with one each), Butte 11 (Tierney 5). Turnovers — Flathead 18, Butte 14.