Butte players key in stretch runs

Several Butte natives are keys to women’s college basketball teams outside of the Mining City as March Madness looms.

Butte Central graduate Quinn Peoples scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds  Friday as MSU-Billings fell 76-71 at Seattle Pacific. Peoples averages 7.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for the Yellowjackets (15-9 overall, 9-7 conference), who are tied with Seattle Pacific for fifth place in the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference.

Yellowjackets close out regular season at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, and at Central Washington in Ellensburg this week. The conference tournament is March 3-9.

Playoff time starts tonight for Kalli McCloskey and the Rocky Mountain Battlin’ Bears. Rocky will play at MSU-Northern in the first round of the Frontier Conference playoffs.

McCloskey scored 14 points to help Rocky beat Northern 63-58 Thursday in Billings. Two nights later, the Butte High graduate scored 11 points and collected 11 steals in an 89-82 win over Great Falls. McCloskey averages 8.4 points per game.

Another Butte High graduate contributing to a Frontier playoff team is Joey O’Neill.

The transfer from Weber State scored a total of 21 points to help Carroll College beat No. 3 Westminster 52-43 Thursday and top Lewis-Clark State 65-51 on Saturday. O’Neill averages 5.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Saints, who placed second in conference standings and have a first-round bye.

Former Bulldog Kabri Emerson and the North Idaho College Cardinals tied for Scenic West Athletic Conference title with Southern Idaho. Both teams finished 12-3 after the Cardinals (27-3) fell 64-43 to Southern Idaho Saturday.

NIC will be the No. 2 seed because the Cardinals lost the tiebreaker. The top two teams received a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which begins Thursday.

Emerson scored in double digits several times for the Cardinals

As the Big Sky conference heads into the final three weeks, Eastern Washington is within striking distance thanks in part to the play of Butte High graduate Lexie Nelson.

Nelson scored 14 points to help the Eagles beat Portland State 83-51 last Thursday in Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles (15-10, 11-5) trail Montana (13-3) and Northern Colorado (13-4) in the Big Sky standings. Nelson averages a team-leading 14.1 points per game.