By Bill Foley
ANACONDA — If high school basketball games only lasted 20 minutes or so, Butte Central’s girls would be celebrating their fifth win of the season.
Unfortunately for the Maroons, games last 32 minutes. Thursday night at Memorial Gym, Anaconda dominated the final eight of those, and the Copperheads pulled off a 52-39 non-conference win over the Maroons.
“I don’t know what happened,” BC coach Meg Murphy said. “We did alright for the first three quarters.”
The Copperheads outscored the Maroons 35-18 after halftime. That includes a 20-7 run in the fourth quarter.
“We finally converted a little bit,” Anaconda coach Andy Saltenberger said. “We didn’t have hardly any in the first half on transition, and that’s kind of been our thing all year. In the second half we definitely got out on transition and pushed it up a little faster.”
Salternberger pointed to the Copperhead defense to sparking the second half surge that lifted Anaconda to 6-2 on the season.
“We played better defense inside, which created that transition,” the coach said.
The Copperheads got a bigtime performance from sophomore Makena Patrich. She scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the second half. She was one of two Copperheads to reach double figures scoring.
Senior Alyssa Peterson tossed in 10 points for Anaconda, which got eight from Maniyah Lunceford and seven apiece from Sami Johnson and Kora Kelly.
Both teams struggled scoring early. The Copperheads led 9-8 after the first quarter before BC started to roll in the second.
With some nice passes from senior Sofee Thatcher leading the way, the Maroons opened the frame with a 10-2 run to take an 18-3 lead. Thatcher, who saw her first action since the Butte High-Butte Central game three weeks ago, also blocked five shots in the first half.
Junior Brooke Badovinac scored 11 of her team-leading 16 points in the first half, helping BC take a 21-17 lead into halftime.
Central made it a 23-17 lead when Badovinac scored off a nice pass from sophomore Emma Moodry to open the third quarter.
Johnson, who hit a 3-pointer to start the Copperheads in the first quarter, scored to start Anaconda in the third. After a bucket by Kelly, the transition game really got going for the Copperheads.
Johnson stole the ball and fed Patrick for a bucket to tie the game at 23 with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the quarter. The next time down the floor, Patrick scored to put Anaconda up 25-23.
Badovinac followed with a 3-pointer, and Moodry scored to make it 28-25 BC.
Then Kelly hit a 3-poitner to tie the game at 28. The game was also tied at 30 and then 32, when the game went to the final quarter.
Reserve senior Cara DeMarios scored her only two points of the game to open the fourth and give the Copperheads the lead for good.
Anaconda scored the first five points of the quarter, and then the Copperheads put the game away with an 8-0 run down the stretch.
Murphy said the Maroons stopped playing the solid zone defense that helped them take the lead in the first half.
“They hit some big shots out of the zone,” Murphy said. “That was something that we didn’t play to our satisfaction. We went away from some of the things we were doing well early in the game.
“We played really well in the first half in that zone. We caused them a lot of problems. Then we just kind of went away from it.”
Five BC players scored points in the loss. Thatcher tossed in eight, while Moodry and fellow sophomore Mollie Drew each scored six. Senior Payton Hartwick buried a 3-ponter form the corner in a game that saw senior Brenna Foley, junior Maycee Anderson and sophomore Kathryn Lalicker contribute.
Murphy focused on how the Maroons can improve following the loss that dropped them to 4-4 overall.
“Somehow, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get Emma and Mollie the ball a little more,” Murphy said, before pointing to last Saturday’s Southwestern A win over Frenchtown. “That’s the difference in the game. You think about Frenchtown, those two scored some points. Tonight, they didn’t. They touched the ball about four times each.”
The Maroons jump back into conference play Saturday when the head to Stevensville.
Next up for Anaconda is a Tuesday battle with Dillon.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-4) — Brenna Foley 0 0-0 0, Payton Hartwick 1 0-0 3, Sofee Thatcher 2 4- 8, Brooke Badovinac 7 1-3 16, Ella Moodry 3 0-2 6, Maycee Anderson 0 0-0 0, Mollie Drew 3 0-0 6, Kathryn Lalicker 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 5-12 39.
ANACONDA (6-2) — Sami Johnson 3 0-0 7, Makena Patrick 7 3-5 18, Maniyah Lunceford 2 4-4 8, Kora Kelly 3 0-0 7, Alyssa Peterson 4 1-2 10, Cara DeMarios 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 8-10 52.
Butte Central 8 13 11 7 — 39
Anaconda 9 8 15 20 — 52
3-point goals — BC 2 (Hartwick 1, Badovinac 1), Anaconda 4 (Johnson 1, Patrick 1, Kelly 1, Peterson 1). Fouls — BC 10, Anaconda 10. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.