Faupel, Bulldogs buck Broncs

Quick won out over big Saturday at the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym in Butte High School where the homestanding Bulldogs held off Billings Senior 48-43 in a matchup of Eastern AA Conference girls’ basketball leaders.

A Billings Senior lineup that started three players 6 feet or taller and another at 5-11 was tough on the boards and effective around the hoops. However, the smaller, faster Butte High girls used 16 steals to light the wick on an offense that scored enough points to prevail.

Six-foot senior Carlie Haeffner grabbed six of the steals and pulled down eight rebounds to help key the Bulldog defense. Natalee Faupel sank six of seven free throws on her way to a game-high 20 points to pace the offense.

Faupel had made 23 straight free throws, including her first three in Saturday’s game, before the streak ended in the first quarter.

“She’s been shooting free throws really well for us,” Butte High head coach Jeff Arntson said. “She’s so good at getting to the hoop and drawing fouls, she shoots a lot of free throws.”

The loss was only the fourth this year for the Broncs, but it was their third defeat in their last four games. Billings Senior is 10-4 overall and now 6-2 in conference after entering the contest tied with third-ranked Butte High (12-2, 7-1) for the Eastern AA lead. The victory was the Bulldogs’ eighth in a row.

“Our kids played pretty well for the most part,” Arntson said. “We didn’t shoot free throws as well as we usually do and that kept the game closer than it needed to be.

“Senior is a good and physical team and we knew they would try to manhandle us. The kids knew they’d have to deal with it and they did.”

Butte High held a 37-36 edge after the third quarter and then had to stave off fierce rally attempts by Billings Senior. Faupel caged two free throws and Sammy McGree followed with a steal and layup in the backcourt as the Bulldogs expanded their lead to five points.

Marissa Van Atta, one of six players 6 feet or taller on the Bronc roster, drilled a 3-point basket and her team was within a bucket of the lead with 3 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.

Faupel caught a pass from Hattie Thatcher and confidently netted a 3-pointer to up Butte High’s lead again. Sarah Heard tallied a free throw for the Broncs and Faupel suffered a rare miss from the line for the Bulldogs.

Jordyn Wagner’s 3-point launch with just under a minute left was barely off the mark for Billings Senior,  but Van Atta snared the rebound. However, she then traveled, turning the ball over to Bulldog possession.

Faupel drew a foul from Kortney McNeil and downed both foul shots for a 46-40 Butte High lead with 48 seconds still on the clock. McNeil grabbed a rebound off a Wagner miss on the other end, only to have the ball stolen away by Thatcher.

McNeil had to foul McGree to stop time. McGree was unable to coax the freebie through the hoop, but Haeffner stepped through the Senior block-outs to take down the carom. Only 10 seconds were left when Faupel made her last two free throws, after being fouled by Clancee Ferrin. The charity tosses made the score 48-40 before McNeil meshed a 3-pointer just before the game ended.

“It was a good team win,” Arntson said. “I still wasn’t happy, though. We played a little slow and didn’t use our quickness as well as we should have. When we were quicker, it worked well.

“I like our team. The kids play hard, they’re coachable and a lot of fun to be around.”

Butte High led 11-3 after one quarter on a good, balanced effort. However, Senior found its shooting comfort zone in the second period, made all nine of its field goal attempts and trailed just 30-26 at halftime. McGree’s deep 3 at the buzzer kept it from being a one-point game, and punctured the Broncs’ momentum.

Ferrin knocked down back-to-back field goals as Senior went ahead 36-33 with 1:24 left in the third quarter. Maria Michelotti, who Arntson praised her play off the bench, converted a free throw and then Thatcher gave her team the lead back with a 3-pointer 20 seconds before the arrival of the fourth frame.

McGree wound up with 10 points to back Faupel in the scoring columns. Thatcher had eight points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Hailey Hoagland scored five points, Haeffner and Erika McLeod two apiece and Michelotti tallied a free throw. Mariah Richardson played well spelling Thatcher.

Billings Senior scoring leaders were Van Atta with 13 points, Ferrin with 11 and McNeil with 10. Jace Henderson dished six assists.

BILLINGS SENIOR (10-4, 6-2) — Sarah Heard 1-3 1-4 3, Kortney McNeil 4-6 0-1 10, Marissa Van Atta 6-11 0-0 13, Clancee Ferrin 4-12 2-2 11, Jace Henderson 1-4 1-2 3, Alli Kieckbusch 0-2 0-0 0, Jordyn Wagner 1-6 0-0 3, Katie Gorman 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Mims 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-43 4-9 43.
BUTTE HIGH (12-2, 7-1) — Hailey Hoagland 2-7 1-2 5, Natalee Faupel 3-9 12-17 20, Sammy McGree 4-10 0-1 10, Hattie Thatcher 3-6 0-0 8, Carlie Haeffner 0-1 2-4 2, Erika McLeod 1-2 0-0 2, Mariah Richardson 0-0 0-0 0, Maria Michelotti 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 13-34 16-26 38.
Billings Senior                3          23          10           7  —  43
Butte High                     11         19            7          11 —  48
3-point goals — Billings Senior 5-9 (McNeil 2-2, Van Atta 1-1, Ferrin 1-1, Henderson 0-1, Kieckbusch 0-1, Wagner 1-3), Butte High 6-15 (Hoagland 0-2, Faupel 2-4, McGree 2-6, Thatcher 2-3,). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Billings Senior 20, Butte High 9. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Billings Senior 34 (Heard 8, Van Atta 7, Ferrin 7), Butte High 25 (Heffner 8). Blocks — Billings Senior 1 (Ferrin )), Butte High 1 (McGree)). Assists — Billings Senior 9 (Henderson 6), Butte High 6 (Thatcher 3). Steals — Billings Senior 6 (Henderson 2, McNeil 2), Butte High 16 (Haeffner 6, Thatcher 4, Hoagland 3). Turnovers — Billings Senior 24, Butte High 14.

Photos by Bret Graden. To buy high-quality copies of these photos or others like it, go to gradenphotography.com.