By Bruce Sayler
The rally and the composure Butte Central showed at the end were positives that pleased head coach Meg Murphy on Saturday after the Maroons found a come-from-behind victory.
They overtook Corvallis for a 39-36 Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ basketball win in the Maroon Activities Center (MAC). BC outscored the visitors 19-10 in the last quarter, stretching the nets with four 3-point baskets along the way and wiping out Corvallis’ 26-20 lead the Blue Devils held after three periods.
Corvallis had owned as much as a 10-point lead, 25-15, with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third frame.
“We came back from 10 down and won a close game,” Murphy said with a nod and a smile. “Tricia (Joyce) and Sofee (Thatcher) played hard the whole game like they always do, but, I thought, in the fourth, Maddie (Kump) and Emma (Keeley) stepped up and played well for us, too, and Taylor Harrington came in and gave us some quality moments.”
Joyce led all scorers with 16 points, tallying five 3-point goals and a free throw. She registered nine of her points in the fourth quarter.
Thatcher drove for a basket 10 seconds into the last quarter. Sydney Powell hit a free throw for Corvallis and the Maroons responded. Joyce drilled two consecutive 3-pointers and Butte Central was suddenly in front, 28-27, with 5:45 left in the game.
Lilly Berry took a pass from Calla Haldorson and laid in two points, regaining the Blue Devils the lead. The Maroons bounced back two more 3-pointers in a row — Joyce’s third of the period and one by Thatcher. The freshman, Thatcher, then added a made foul shot and BC had zoomed to a 35-29 margin with 2:45 still on the clock.
Promising freshman prospect Madeline Gilder scored on a pass from Hannah Martin on a fast break for Corvallis. The Maroons tried to cash a similar tactic, but the pass was deflected away from Thatcher. However, Harrington snared it and took it to the hoop for BC. Half a minute later, Thatcher netted two freebies and Butte Central was in control, 39-31 with only 29 seconds remaining to tick down.
Butte Central gave its coach a few more anxious moments when it turned the ball over on a 5-second violation under the Corvallis basket.
“I told them we have two timeouts,” Murphy said, “and that if it was getting even a little bit close to 5 seconds to call one. But, she didn’t think it had gotten to 5 seconds.”
Corvallis did score five points in the last 22 seconds to tighten the gap.
The Maroons had struggled early. They seemed slow of foot, missed easy scoring opportunities and absorbed a drubbing on the boards.
“I said I wasn’t sure if it was the missed layups or the missed free throws that was giving me the heartburn,” Murphy relayed that she had said in talking to team members.
“We were flat-footed. We’re at that point in the season where maybe the kids legs get a little tired.”
The Blue Devils rolled to an 8-2 lead to start the game before Butte Central came back with two charity tosses by Shea Davis and Joyce’s first 3-pointer. It was an 8-7 difference after one quarter.
Joyce tied the score 8-8 with a freebie 9 seconds into the second quarter, but Corvallis got a trey from Lainie Albright and two free throws by rebound machine Denali Smith.
The Maroons surged with a 7-0 run to take a 15-13 edge on a long 3-pointer by Joyce. Hadli Lords answered with a trey of her own, and the teams went to halftime with Corvallis owning a 16-15 edge.
The Blue Devils scored the first nine points of the second half to open their 10-point advantage. Treys by Ashlynn Nixon and Haldorson ignited the spree.
Corvallis was without 6-foot-3 junior Isabel Evans, who is reportedly suffering from a stress fracture in a leg, but still dominated the boards by a 44-24 margin. Guard Haldorson grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the effort while Smith had eight and Gilder seven. Smith collected her eight in a span of about 5 minutes in the first half.
“In our zone, we struggle to find somebody to block out,” Murphy said about Butte Central’s rebounding woes. “In man, we do all right, but, we’ve been playing more zone than usual, lately.”
The play of the young Maroons, though, has improved weekly as they gain experience and basketball knowledge, Murphy noted.
Corvallis fell to 3-2 in Southwestern A Conference play with the loss. Martin led the Blue Devils with nine points in a balanced attack. Nine Corvallis players scored at least two points.
Thatcher finished with 11 points to back Joyce’s output for Butte Central. Thatcher also notched five steals. Keeley finished with six points, and Sorini, Davis and Harrington each scored two. Kump had two steals. Amira Bolton also saw time.
The Maroons are 4-6 for the season, including a 3-2 record halfway through the conference schedule. They will be on the road for league games next weekend — at Frenchtown on Friday and Stevensville on Saturday.
CORVALLIS (N/A, 3-2) — Madeline Gilder 1-4 2-5 4, Calla Haldorson 2-10 0-0 5, Hannah Martin 4-8 0-0 9, Ashlynn Nixon 1-5 0-0 3, Lainie Albright 2-11 1-2 7, Sydney Powell 0-0 1-2 1, Lilly Berry 1-3 0-0 2, Denali Smith 0-3 2-2 2, Hadli Lords 1-1 0-0 3, Hannah Hutchison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-45 6-11 36.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-6, 3-2) — Emma Keeley 2-7 2-3 6, Maddie Kump 0-3 0-0 0, Bella Sorini 0-1 2-2 2, Shea Davis 0-1 2-2 2, Tricia Joyce 5-16 1-3 16, Sofee Thatcher 3-9 3-6 11, Amira Bolton 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Harrington 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 11-38 10-16 39.
Corvallis 8 8 10 10 — 36
Butte Central 7 8 5 19 — 39
3-point goals — Corvallis 6-22 (Gilder 0-2, Haldorson 1-6, Martin 1-2, Nixon 1-3, Albright 2-8, Lords 1-1), BC 7-22 (Keeley 0-3, Kump 0-2, Joyce 5-11, Thatcher 2-6). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Corvallis 16, BC 7. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Corvallis 44 (Haldorson 12, Smith 8, Gilder 7), BC 24 (Davis 7). Blocks — Corvallis 1 (Gilder), BC 2 (Keeley 1, Davis 1). Assists — Corvallis 9 (Haldorson 4), BC 2 (Joyce 2). Steals — Corvallis 5 (Haldorson 2), BC 11 (Thatcher 5, Kump 2). Turnovers — Corvallis 20, BC 13.