By Bruce Sayler
Head coach Luke Powers began Friday feeling sick and the Butte High boys’ basketball team’s 66-46 Eastern AA Conference loss to Billings Skyview that night certainly didn’t make him feel any better.
“They’re big and when they shoot six 3s, shoot 3s efficiently, it complicates things,” the coach could barely utter through a harsh rasp. “Even when they missed, they were able to get the offensive rebounds and usually score off them.”
Skyview’s starters included 6-foot-10 Montana Western basketball-bound Zach Schacht, 6-7 junior Julius Mims and 6-5 senior Daniel Davis. They brought 6-5 junior Cole Allison in off the bench. They worked Butte High’s counter, 6-5 Jake Olson, into foul trouble, allowing Skyview a heavy height advantage.
The Falcons used it. Schacht, Mims and Davis went a combined 14-for-15 from the field while totaling 36 points and 14 rebounds.
“They kept us off-balance with their defenses,” Powers said, adding the switchups were expected, but that the Butte High response to them were too slow. “In the second half, they got out to an 8-0 run because we couldn’t recognize what they had.” “To spot them 10 points right away in the first quarter and eight points right away in the third quarter was too much.”
The Bulldogs’ only lead in their own Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym Friday night was 2-0 after Clay Ferguson dropped a fadeaway 10-footer over a defender. The Falcons tore off 10 straight points, including a 3-point basket by Mims and a three-point play by Abe Seybert.
The gap was 17-7 by the end of the first quarter.
Butte High scrapped back the whole second quarter after falling behind by 23-9. It narrowed the margin to 8 points, 27-19, on an and-one by Tommy Mellott, a basket by Dan McCloskey and an inside score by Olson to end the half on a 7-0 spree.
Any hopes the Bulldogs had of continuing the surge in the second half were snuffed quickly when Skyview clicked off the first eight points after intermission. Camron Ketchem and Davis each canned a 3-pointer in the run.
The Falcons maintained their distance the rest of the way, leading by 43-30 after the third quarter and the final 20-point margin.
Interest seemed to center on a loosened basket standard after a dunk play. It caused two delays as officials pondered on a fix, but settled for letting it quit swinging as it hung from the ceiling. Skyview head coach Kevin Morales protested mildly, voicing concern over the possibility the equipment could fall and injure someone. Comically, Powers asked him if his team would be willing to forfeit the game and end it immediately. About 4 minutes remained on the clock.
Officials deemed the standard was secured enough and play could continue.
“Bright spots for us were Clay and Trevyn (Roth) and, knock on wood, we cleaned up our free throw shooting a little bit,” Powers said.
Ferguson and Roth finished with 12 points each to share team leadership in scoring. The Bulldogs shot 13 for 17 from the foul line, a marked improvement over some recent efforts.
Olson had eight points and two blocks before fouling out, Mellott seven points, McCloskey five and Kale McCarthy two. Kash Kelly, Michael Phillips and Jake Vetter also played. Butte High now has a 3-12 overall record, 0-9 league mark and will be home Saturday against Billings West at 4 p.m. in the Richardson gym in Eastern AA play.
Powers said the Golden Bears use several types of presses so the Bulldogs will have a lot of chances to work against them.
“We’re going to have to deal with West’s pressure (Saturday),” he said.
Skyview is now 9-6 for the season, 5-4 in conference games. Four Falcons scored in double figures, led by Ketchem and Davis with 16 points each, Schacht with 14 and Seybert with 11. The Falcons shot 63 percent from the field.
BILLINGS SKYVIEW (9-6, 5-4) — Julius Mims 2-2 1-3 6, Abe Seybert 2-3 7-7 11, Camron Ketchem 5-13 4-4 16, Zach Schacht 6-6 2-2 14, Daniel Davis 6-7 2-2 16, Alex Schaaf 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Tranel 1-2 0-1 3, Steinar Gudmundsson 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Allison 0-1 0-0 0, Payton Carle 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-35 16-23 66.
BUTTE HIGH (3-12, 0-9) — Kash Kelly 0-3 0-0 0, Clay Ferguson 4-9 3-4 12, Kale McCarthy 0-0 2-2 2, Dan McCloskey 2-6 1-2 5, Jake Olson 3-5 2-3 8, Tommy Mellott 2-3 2-3 7, Trevyn Roth 3-11 3-3 12, Michael Phillips 0-0 0-0 0, Jake Vetter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-37 13-17 46.
Skyview 17 10 16 23 — 66
Butte High 7 12 11 16 — 46
3-point goals — Skyview 6-11 (Mims 1-1, Ketche 2-6, Davis 2-3, Tranel 1-1), Butte 5-20 (Kelly 0-2, Ferguson 1-2, McCloskey 0-4, Mellott 1-2, Roth 3-10). Fouled out — Olson. Total fouls — Skyview 15, Butte 20. Technical — Skyview coach Morales. Rebounds — Skyview 26 (Schacht 6), Butte 15 (McCloskey 4). Blocks — Skyview 2 (Mims 1, Schacht 1), Butte 3 (Olson 2). Assists — Skyview 15 (Seybert 5), Butte 9 (Mellott 3), Steals — Skyview 9 (Ketchem 3), Butte 5 (Roth 2). Turnovers — Skyview 13, Butte 13.