ANACONDA — The Anaconda Copperheads picked the wrong time to run into the Butte Central Maroons.
Still smarting from Saturday’s loss at Frenchtown, the Maroons jumped out to a fast start and went wire to wire to beat the Copperheads 63-43 Thursday night in a non-conference boys’ basketball game at the remodeled Snake Pit.
“It was probably a good lesson for us,” BC senior Trevor Neumann said of BC’s first loss in 12 games this season. “We practiced a lot harder than usual this week.”
Central transitioned those solid three days of practice into the game against the Class B Copperheads.
The Maroons were particularly good on the long ball. BC hit on 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range to open the game with a 12-2 run, and the Maroons never trailed.
“We definitely got in rhythm after that and just kept going,” said Neumann, who hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points.
Jared Simkins and Braden Harrington hit 3-pointers to open the game. After the Copperheads got on the board with a Landon Hurley bucket, Neumann sank a pair of 3-poitners to make it 12-2, and BC never looked back.
“The shooting got us going early on,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said. “It was obviously an ice breaker and kind of a confidence booster.”
Central led 19-8 after the first quarter. The Maroons opened the second quarter with eight straight points, and BC took a 36-17 lead into halftime.
The Maroons’ man-to-man defense, something that let them down a bit in Frenchtown, stymied the Copperheads over the first 16 minutes.
“In the first half, overall, we played great defense,” Kelly said. “It was a real point of emphasis in practice.”
The coach said that defense got a little “sloppy” in the second half, but the lead was big enough to hang on for the easy win.
The Copperheads opened the third quarter with a 7-3 run, only to see BC lose the frame with a 9-1 run for a 48-25 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
All nine BC players who saw time scored points in the win.
Matt Simkins came off the bench to score 12 points for the second straight game. Jared Simkins tossed in eight, and Harrington scored seven. The Maroons also got five from Luke Heaphy, four from Ryan Wahl and two apiece from Gator Yelenich, Aaron Richards and Thomas McGree.
Senior Kylar Gochanour hit three 3-pointers and scored 17 points to lead the Copperheads, who fell to 6-6. Hurley tossed in seven points, while Michael Galle and Eli Saltenberger each scored six.
Also for Anaconda, Peyton Klanecky scored four, and Braedon Sawyer netted three.
Kelly was pleased with how his Maroons bounced back from a loss he said had been brewing.
“I could see it coming in practice,” Kelly said. “We were getting complacent and making chronic mistakes. It was a wakeup call. It was necessary, and our guys recognized some things that we were doing poorly and needed cleanup, and really worked their tails off this week. We really took a step in the right direction.”
The Maroons jump back into Southwestern A play Saturday afternoon when they play host to Hamilton at the Maroon Activities Center.
Kelly and Neumann said BC has to keep focusing on itself as it heads to the stretch run.
“We’ve just got to keep going, practice as hard as we did this week and we’ll be good,” Neumann said.
BUTTE CENTRAL (12-1) — Jared Simkins 3 1-2 8, Luke Heaphy 2 0-0 5, Braden Harrington 3 0-0 7, Trevor Neumann 8 0-1 21, Aaron Richards 1 0-0 2, Matt Simkins 5 2-4 12, Gator Yelenich 1 0-0 0, Ryan Wahl 1 2-5 4, Thomas McGree 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 5-12 63.
ANACONDA (6-6) — Kylar Gochanour 6 2-2 17, Michael Galle 2 1-2 6, Braedon Sawyer 1 0-0 3, Eli Saltenberger 3 0-0 6, Landon Hurley 3 1-2 7, Peyton Klanecky 1 2-2 4, Leroy Wilson 0 0-1 0. Totals 16 6-9 43
Butte Central 19 17 12 15 — 63
Anaconda 8 8 8 18 — 43
3-point goals — BC 8 (Neumann 5, J. Simkins, Heaphy, Harrington), Anaconda 5 (Gochanour 3, Galle, Sawyer). Fouls — BC 11, Anaconda 10. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.