Central boys buck Broncs, head to break at 6-0

Central boys buck Broncs, head to break at 6-0
Butte Central’s bench and Luke Heaphy look on after Heaphy gets off a third-quarter 3-pionter Thursday night against Hamilton at the Maroon Activities Center. The shot didn’t fall. Broncs in the photo are Tanner Goligoski (23), Carson Rostad (3) and Trey Searle. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

Butte Central was deep enough to pull it off Thursday night, a 57-50 high school boys’ basketball win over athletic Hamilton.

The Maroons shot cold in the first half, had Braden Harrington to keep them close and then honed in after intermission to stay undefeated at 6-0 going into the holiday break.

“That’s a talented and good basketball team,” BC head coach Brodie Kelly said in the hallway at the Maroon Activities Center (MAC) after the Southwestern A Conference thriller. “Before the game, I was talking to (Hamilton head coach) Travis (Blome) about how they’ve had no rest. They went straight from the (Class A) state championship football game into basketball season.”

Blome is a former assistant football coach at Butte High, where he served as offensive coordinator before moving to Hamilton.

Butte Central, at least the coaches, was never comfortable with the state of the game until it was over. Cade Holter sank two free throws with 3 minutes, 28 seconds left for a 47-46 Maroon edge that the team grew to 52-46, the widest margin of the contest (until the end) over the next 2 ½ minutes.

Holter, finishing with 19 points, tacked on the other five points in the key run on a layup set up by a pass from Dylan Sestrich and on a three-point play he maneuvered on a drive.

Harrington finished with a team-high 22 points and it was his 17 in the first half that kept Butte Central from falling too far behind the Broncs to catch them. Hamilton had a 28-24 lead at halftime while the Maroons fired freely from 3-point land with little success. BC shooters were 3-for-17 from behind the arc over the first two quarters.

“That was one of the adjustments we had to make,” Kelly said. “We were settling too easily for 3s. That kept us from getting to the free throw line and prevented them from having to play defense.”
All three 3s Butte Central made prior to halftime were by Harrington, a 6-foot-1 junior.

“I got rolling early and didn’t look back,” he said. “I’m taking it game by game. I’ve just got to trust (the shot). I felt confident coming out and sometimes, you just have to step up.”

So, while the Maroons were constricting Bronc star Tanner Goligoski, Harrington spiced the effort with some offense.

“He’s a gutsy player,” Kelly said. “He started the game out and got us going and he did it again in the third quarter. He’s a challenge to guard, I think, because he’s scoring a lot of different ways.”

Goligoski was averaging 26 points a game coming into the contest, but was held to eight by the BC defense. His lone 3-pointer, though, cut the Butte Central lead in half to 52-49 with 53 seconds till to play. Harrington and Hamilton’s Carson Rostad — this year’s Montana Gatorade Football Player of the Year — traded free throws and then Sestrich iced the victory with four straight converted foul shots.

“I don’t know that we felt like we had the game,” Kelly said.

The coach said important moments in the fourth quarter were a Sestrich trey that opened a 45-41 margin for the Maroons, before the Broncs battled back to go ahead 46-45 on a Hunter Omlid putback and Rostad three-point play, and the spree that took the difference six points.

He credited offensive rebounding and Sestrich’s free throws with helping to clinch the win.

“Almost everybody on the team has (previous) varsity experience,” Harrington said. “Last year, we struggled to close games. This is a confidence-booster, closing this game like we did. Dylan making free throws down the stretch closed it.”

Sestrich finished with 13 points.

The team effort included a lift off the bench by powerful 6-foot-4 junior Aaron Richards, Kelly said, crediting the big man’s physicality and energy with sparking the Maroons.

“Everybody is contributing in different ways at different times,” the coach said.

Butte Central owned a 14-11 lead after one quarter, but Hamilton overtook the Maroons in the second period, closing the half on 3-pointers by Austin Drake and Trey Searle for a 28-24 gap at intermission. Searle knocked down four of the long shots in the game and led the Broncs with 12 points.

The teams were tied 36-all going into the last frame.

“They spread you out on defense and you have to cover some ground,” Kelly said, adding that, also because of the Broncs’ athleticism, when the BC boys were on offense, they had to be really aware of how fast Hamilton could react.

“You have to try to get an offensive rebound while getting back on defense,” he said.

Richards had three points and a block. Jared Simkins led Butte Central on the boards with seven rebounds before fouling out. Holter pulled down six caroms. Luke Heaphy dished four assists, and Gator Yelenich and Trevor Neumann both contributed minutes to the win. It raised the Maroons’ Southwestern A mark to 3-0. They will return to action on January 4 with a home game against Dillon in the MAC.

Hamilton is 1-1 in conference play and 5-2 for the season. The Broncs are scheduled to play Dillon on January 12 in their next game.

HAMILTON (5-2, 1-1) — Camron Rothie 1-2 0-0 2, Carson Rostad 3-9 2-4 8, Hunter Omlid 4-9 1-2 9, Trey Searle 4-8 0-0 12, Tanner Goligoski 2-11 3-6 8, Drew Brackman 1-1 0-0 3, Tyler Burrows 0-0 0-0 0 Tyler Barnes 1-2 2-2 5, Austin Drake 1-1 0-1 3. Totals 17-43 8-15 50.
BUTTE CENTRAL (6-0, 3-0) — Jared Simkins 0-2 0-0 0, Luke Heaphy 0-7 0-0 0, Braden Harrington 8-15 3-5 22, Dylan Sestrich 4-9 4-5 13, Cade Holter 7-10 5-6 19, Gator Yelenich 0-3 0-0 0, Trevor Neumann 0-3 0-0 0, Aaron Richards 1-1 1-5 3. Totals 20-50 13-21 57.
Hamilton                    11        17        8          14 — 50
Butte Central             14        10        12        21 — 57

3-point goals — Hamilton 8-21 (Rothie 0-1, Rostad 0-1, Omlid 0-2, Searle 4-7, Goligoski 1-6, Brackman 1-1, Barnes 1-2, Drake 1-1), BC 4-23 (Heaphy 0-6, Harrington 3-8, Sestrich 1-5, Holter 0-1, Neumann 0-3). Fouled out — Searle, Simkins. Total fouls — Hamilton 18, BC 17. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Hamilton 31 (Rostad 9), BC 31 (Simkins 7). Blocks — Hamilton 1 (Searle), BC 1 (Richards). Assists — Hamilton 11 (Rostad 4), BC 7 (Heaphy 4). Steals — Hamilton 7 (Rothie 2, Searle 2), BC 9 (Heaphy 2, Holter 2, Harrington 2). Turnovers — Hamilton 16, BC 9.


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