By Bruce Sayler
The Butte High girls were on the short end of a 41-28 basketball score Thursday night and Bulldog head coach Maury Cook was rightfully proud of the team’s defense.
Just as rightfully, he was concerned with the offense as C.M. Russell of Great Falls left the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High School with the Eastern AA Conference victory.
The young Butte High program was a little short on personnel because of recent injuries. Both starting guard and long-range shooter Brittany Tierney and backup post Katlyn O’Brien were injured Saturday. Tierney’s groin injury is a day-to-day consideration, but O’Brien suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and is out for the year, including the spring in which she was ticketed to return as the softball team’s strong second pitcher.
So, it was with some smart play and determination that Butte High starting posts Abby Dodge and Madi Yost stayed out of foul trouble enough to log more than their usual minutes. Usually being at height disadvantages has forced the two to play up and aggressively much this season, creating too much realized potential for fouls. Butte High’s defense held C.M Russell to 33 percent shooting from the field.
Dodge responded with 13 rebounds, a shot block and seven points, which tied guards Sam Krzan and Ally Cleverly for the team scoring lead.
“Abby is a phenomenal athlete with a ton of ability,” Cook said. “We don’t always get her the ball like we should. She knows she has to be a competitor every night. She owes it to her teammates and to herself. We have to see that competitiveness every game.”
The 5-foot-10 junior is the most experienced player on a team that has no seniors.
“We had a really good defensive effort tonight,” Cook said. “Our goal is to hold the opponent to 40. But, we’re starting our offense too far from the basket and some of that is because of youth. When we run our plays, we always get good shots. But, nobody has stepped up to take charge of the offense. We can blame that on youth, too, but 11 or 12 games into the season we should have that.”
The coach acknowledged the players seem to lose their confidence if the shots don’t fall early and they wind up playing the game from behind. No 3-point shots funneled through the hoop for Butte High. Three freshmen saw a lot of court time for the Bulldogs on Thursday and are experiencing varsity ball for the first go-round.
“They just have to let their shots go,” Cook said, alluding to hesitations. “If they don’t, we tend to get into a little funk. We tend to get down on ourselves when our shots don’t go down. That’s part of our youth, too, but we have to learn to be warriors on offense.”
He reminded that — the sophomores and freshmen especially — are still learning to recognize defenses such as reading what a double-team is and why.”
“We really need, too, to learn how to handle pressure,” he said.
Butte High fell behind early against the Rustlers, then rallied back and looked geared for the competition. Dodge’s first two baskets capped a 6-0 run that put the Bulldogs in front 6-5 with 1 minute, 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.
CMR closed the frame with a flurry, matching the six-point spree and led 11-6 with Addison Gardner scoring 10 of the team’s points. Gardner went on to tally a game-high 17.
Russell took control with an 8-4 difference in the second quarter and led by 19-10 at halftime. Butte High closed no closer than eight points the rest of the way, trailing by 31-18 after three quarters and finishing behind by 41-28.
Brianna Brown came off the bench to score 10 points, backing Gardner in the Great Falls club’s scoring totals. The win put the Rustlers at 4-8 overall this season, including a 2-3 conference mark.
Butte High, now 1-10 and 1-4, saw Yost score four points and Camille McEwen three to go with the seven each by Krzan, Cleverly and Dodge. Riley Duffy and Aspen Lovshin also played several minutes. The Bulldogs will play at Great Falls High on Saturday.
Cook said a decision will come Friday as to whether Tierney can play on Saturday.
“She hasn’t practiced this week,” he said. “The trainers said it depends on the pain and if she can tolerate it. She wants to practice (Friday) because she always wants to practice. But, I don’t want to lose her for the rest of the season.”
GREAT FALLS C.M. RUSSELL (4-8, 2-3) — Mady Skawinski 1-2 0-1 3, Courteney Shovlin 1-3 2-4 4, Addison Gardner 4-9 7-8 17, Courtney Schroeder 1-3 0-0 2, Cailey Froehle 1-9 1-2 3, Zuzu Rudio 0-3 0-0 0, Stevi Farren 0-3 0-0 0, Kyra Willis 1-2 0-0 2, Brianna Brown 4-6 1-5 10. Totals 13-40 11-20 41.
BUTTE HIGH (1-10, 1-4) — Camille McEwen 0-1 3-6 3, Sam Krzan 3-5 1-2 7, Madi Yost 2-4 0-1 4, Ally Cleverly 2-11 3-4 7, Abby Dodge 3-8 1-2 7, Riley Duffy 0-2 0-0 0, Aspen Lovshin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 10-32 8-15 28.
C.M. Russell 11 8 16 6 — 41
Butte High 6 4 8 10 — 28
3-point goals — CMR 4-16 (Skawinski 1-3, Shovlin 0-2, Gardner 2-6, Froehle 0-1, Rudio 0-1, Farren 0-1, Brown 1-2), Butte 0-7 (McEwen 0-1, Krzan 0-2, Cleverly 0-4). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — CMR 17, Butte 18. Technicals — none. Rebounds — CMR 32 (Froehle 7), Butte 29 (Dodge 13). Blocks — CMR 5 (Froehle 3), Butte 1 (Dodge). Assists — CMR 6 (Gardner 3), Butte 2 (Duffy 1, Cleverly 1). Steals — CMR 8 (Willis 3), Butte 2 (Krzan 1, McEwen 1). Turnovers — CMR 12, Butte 16.
This article has been corrected from original post that incorrectly stated Kaidy McClafferty had suffered the ACL. 5 comments