By Bruce Sayler
ANACONDA — The work in progress continued Thursday for the Butte Central girls’ basketball team. The Maroons played better than they have recently, but Anaconda was sharper overall and denied BC the win.
The Copperheads prevailed 37-30 in a non-conference game marking Butte Central’s first trip to the freshly renovated Memorial Gym, and the work on the legendary basketball facility was considerable and beautifully successful.
“Our first three quarters weren’t too bad,” Meg Murphy, head coach of the Maroons, said. “Anaconda is a really good basketball team and they apply a lot of pressure.”
It was a tight game for a long time.
They historical rivals were tied at 9-all after one quarter, BC led 16-15 at halftime and the Copperheads were ahead by 23-22 through three periods.
Then, Anaconda took over – for awhile. The Copperheads ran off nine straight points as Sami Johnson scored off and steal and pass by Megan Reich. Kora Kelly threw in a deep 3-point shot, Reich netted a floater from the key and Isabel Saltenberger put home a rebound basket.
Only 2 minutes, 36 seconds were on the clock when Butte Central broke fourth-quarter scoreboard ice with a free throw Avery Kelly made. It sprang a six-point run as Delaney Hasquet converted three-point play and followed it with a layup gained from Brooke Badovinac on a backcourt steal and pass.
The Maroons’ surge narrowed the Copperheads’ margin to 32-28 with 2 minutes left.
After a scoreless minute passed, BC needed to foul Anaconda players to stop the clock and gamble for possession. The Copperheads countered by executing from the foul line. Kora Kelly sank two charity tosses and Logan Stetzner caged three freebies in the last minute. Butte Central’s only offensive response was a rebound basket by Avery Kelly.
Stetzner is a cousin to Anaconda sophomore Gabbie Stetzner a cancer victim for whom a fundraiser was being held through the game to aid in her fight. Both schools held events to raise money with the effort continuing through the girls’ and boys’ games in the doubleheader.
“We struggled a little bit against their zone,” Murphy said.
Both teams sloshed through cold shooting nights. The emotion of the rivalry and the ferocity of the defenses likely contributed to the lesser offensive showing. Butte Central was strong on the boards, by a 44-34 margin, 27-10 in the first half. Rebounding has been an area of need for the Maroons, who are, as they were Thursday, often at a decided height advantage and playing without injured junior starting post Amira Bolton.
The Copperheads, though, preyed on BC turnovers. They forced Butte Central into 17 turnovers, 13 of them being steals. Eleven of the thefts occurred in the first half.
“They put on pressure and we forgot they cherry-picked a lot,” Murphy said. “That was bad for us.”
The issue was rectified at halftime as both teams adjusted their play.
Taylor Harrington had 10 rebounds, Sofee Thatcher seven and Avery Kelly six as Butte Central had, perhaps, its best game on the boards. Murphy credited senior Emma Keeley with being a big help in the area.
“She’d tap it and Harrington would grab it,” the coach said of the loose rebounds. “But, she backed off it a little in the second half when she got into foul trouble. She was important in how well we rebounded, though.”
Another area in improvement was knifing into the key, which is where Hasquet performed well.
“Hasquet did a good job of driviing to the basket,” Murphy said, “which is something else we hadn’t been doing well.”
It did seem to start to click for the Maroons. Even in falling behind in the fourth quarter, the ability to rally was shown.
“We made a run at them,” Murphy said. “Our kids just don’t know how to win, yet. But, we were coming back and then (Kora Kelly) hit that 3 and we hung our heads a little bit. Two minutes more and we might’ve been able to win it.”
Anaconda was definitively balanced in its output. Johnson led the Copperheads in scoring with nine points, Stetzner tallied seven, Reich and Saltenberger six each, Kora Kelly five and Alyssa Peterson four. Tiora Ferguson also played. Also, Stetzner pulled down 12 rebounds and Saltenberger glummed on to 11. The win gave Class B Anaconda a 9-4 record
Class A Butte Central, now 1-13, was led by Thatcher with 11 points. Hasquet finished with nine, Madison Kump scored five, Avery Kelly three, and Harrington two. The boardwork was well-shared with Harrington catching 10- rebounds, Thatcher grabbing seven and Avery Kelly snaring six to lead the way. The Maroons will play at Hamilton on Saturday in a return to Southwestern A Conference play.
BUTTE CENTRAL (1-13) — Delaney Hasquet 4-11 1-1 9, Madison Kump 2-16 0-2 5, Sofee Thatcher 4-15 3-4 11, Taylor Harrington 1-4 0-2 2, Emma Keeley 0-3 0-0 0, Brooke Badovinac 0-4 0-0 0, Avery Kelly 1-6 1-2 3. Totals 12-59 5-11 30.
ANACONDA (9-4) — Sami Johnson 4-9 0-0 9, Tiora Ferguson 0-2 0-0 0, Isabel Saltenberger 2-9 2-2 6, Logan Stetzner 0-7 7-9 7, Alyssa Peterson 2-3 0-0 4, Megan Reich 3-4 0-0 6, Kora Kelly 1-5 2-2 5. Totals 12-39 11-13 2-6 37.
Butte Central 9 7 6 8 – 30
Anaconda 9 6 8 14 – 37
3-point goals – Butte Central 1-15 (Hasquet 0-3, Kump 1-6, Thatcher 0-4, Keeley 0-1, Badovinac 0-1), Anaconda 2-6 (Johnson 1-2, Ferguson 0-1, Saltenberger 0-1, Stetzner 0-1, K. Kelly 1-1). Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Butte Central 13, Anaconda 10. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Butte Central 44 (Harrington 10, Thatcher 7, A. Kelly 6), Anaconda 34 (Stetzner 12, Saltenberger 11). Blocks – Butte Cental 2 (Harrington 1 A. Kelly 1), Anaconda2 Saltenberger 1, Stetzner 1). Assists – Butte Central 2 (Harrington 1, Badovinac 1), Anaconda 6 Reich 3). Steals – Butte Central 8 (Thatcher 2, Harrington 2) Anaconda 13 (Reich 6, Stetzner 4). Turnovers – Butte Central 17, Anaconda 16.