By Bill Foley
Butte High junior guard Clay Ferguson reached a career high in points for the second straight game Friday night.
This time, Ferguson scored 28 points to lead the Bulldogs in an Eastern AA battle at the Butte Civic Center.
The number that mattered for Butte High, though, was 1.
Butte High hit just 1 of 16 shots from 3-point range, and the Bulldogs fell 49-39.
“You can look back at that and say, ‘That’s a game we should win,’” Butte High coach Luke Powers said. “It’s a frustrating one. We got their big (Zach Schacht) in foul trouble right away. We were boxing him out so he’d go over our backs. Then we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.”
Butte High never led in the game. After Ferguson hit a mid-range shot to tie the game at 2, Schacht scored on a rebound to put Skyview up for good at 4-2.
The Falcons led 13-9 after the first quarter and 23-16 at halftime. Skyview, which led 33-22 after three quarters, put the game away by hitting 8 of 10 free throws in the final from.
Every time it looked like the ultra-athletic Falcons were going to pull away, Butte High answered. Usually, it was Ferguson.
He scored Butte High’s first 12 points and tossed in 14 points in each half.
That came three nights after Ferguson went for a career-high 25 to lead the Bulldogs in an upset win over Bozeman.
“Clay’s had a good week, but Clay’s that good, too,” Powers said. “I’d confidently venture to say his mid-range game is better than anyone in the state of Montana. That’s kind of a lost art, and Clay has it.
“He’s capable of hitting shots from the outside, but his threes aren’t going in either.”
Butte High got six points from sophomore Tommy Mellott, and three from junior Trevyn Roth, who knocked down the Bulldogs’ lone three. Senior Lathan Ricketts hit a pair of free throws.
Juniors Kash Kelly and Kale McCarthy also contributed for the Bulldogs, whose defense kept them in the game with the ultra-talented and very tall Falcons.
Junior guard Alex Schaaf joined Schacht, a 6-foot-10 junior, with 10 points. Schaaf hit 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Kinghorn scored nine points, while Logan DeHaven tossed in eight.
Powers said the loss was frustrating because he knows his team can put together solid shooting performances, like it did against Bozeman.
“We took 16 threes,” the coach said. “Two or three in the first half were rushed. Besides that, they were good shots. We are capable of shooting. That’s why we’re taking those threes confidently. We’ve just got to knock them down.”
The Bulldogs are back in action Thursday when they head to Dillon for a non-conference game.
Butte High’s next conference games are Feb. 16-17 at home against Billings West and Billings Senior.
BILLING SKYVIEW (2-4, 6-6) — Trey Berry 1 1-2 3, Alex Schaaf 1 7-8 10, Tyler Kinghorn 4 1-3 9, Logan DeHaven 3 1-2 8, Zach Schacht 5 0-0 10, Alex Fox 1 0-0 2, Jaxson Noseep 1 0-0 3, Daniel Davis 1 0-0 2, Brayden Morrow 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 10-15 49.
BUTTE HIGH (1-7, 2-11) — Kash Kelly 0 0-0 0, Tommy Mellott 3 01 6, Clay Ferguson 9 10-12 28, Kale McCarthy 0 0-0 0, Trevyn Roth 1 0-0 3, Lathan Ricketts 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 12-15 39.
Billings Skyview 13 10 10 16 — 49
Butte High 9 7 6 17 — 39
3-point goals — Skyview 3 (Schaaf 1, Noseep 1, DeHaven 1), Butte 1 (Roth). Fouls — Skyview 17, Butte 15. Fouled out — Kinghorn. Technicals — Kinghorn 2.