Kalispell’s Glacier High head girls’ basketball coach, Kris Salonen, accomplished Tuesday what Butte High coach Maury Cook is looking to see from his Bulldogs.
The Wolfpack played their most complete game of the season so far with a 68-30 victory over Butte High in non-conference Class AA high school girls’ basketball at the Butte Civic Center.
Glacier placed third last season in the state Class AA tournament, also held at the Civic Center, but had struggled some with newcomers on the roster as the new campaign unfolded.
“We had been struggling,” Salonen said. “The girls just got it together today. It was fun to have them come off the bus and play well.
“We were struggling because of missing layups and turning the ball over. It was a lack of focus and that’s what we wanted to concentrate on today.”
The sure shot is what the Glacier coach wanted her team to zero in on and the Wolfpack followed orders with a bevy of easy layups gained on forced turnovers and a distinct height advantage over the Bulldogs. With that philosophy for this game, they ran their season record to 3-1.
The Glacier leader was 5-foot-7 senior guard Hailee Bennett with 23 points while shooting 9-for-10 from the field.
The Wolfpack also had a decisive experience advantage, though Salonen said her team fielded mostly players “with little varsity experience.”
Abby Dodge, Butte High’s junior post, stepped up her game, which has already been pretty good season, with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The younger Bulldogs are more behind in their development, but the baptism by fire has produced bright spots.
Season leading scorer Ally Cleverly, a freshman, drew strong defensive attention from the Wolfpack and had her game limited. They guarded her passes, guarded her shots and applied brakes to the Butte High offense.
“They’re about as deep of a team that I’ve seen in a long time,” Cook said of the Wolfpack. “In some ways, I think, we were playing better. But (Bennett) lit it up against us and we didn’t have any answer to her.
“Abby had a great game for us today. Every night, we get something from a different player.”
Having all or most of the players produce through hustle, talent or knowledge will be the key to the Butte High fortune here on out. The Bulldogs are 0-5 this season.
Nicole Krueger snapped a 4-all tie for Glacier with a free throw at the 6-minute, 26-second mark of the first quarter. The Wolfpack finished the frame on a 10-5 run and dominated the rest of the way.
They opened a 24-11 gap midway through the second stanza and led by 31-15 at halftime.
“Offensive rebounds are really hurting us,” Cook said. “We lack size, so we have to learn to be physical. We have to play hard all of the time.”
The Butte High varsity roster sports five freshmen and five sophomores along with three juniors and no seniors.
Glacier ran the lead to 52-22 through three quarters and cruised. The Wolfpack shot a sizzling 60 percent from the game and cut their turnovers to 13, almost half what they committed in their last game, coach Salonen said.
“I see bright spots all over,” Cook said, persisting to stay positive and knowing the coming break for the holidays provides an opportunity for more learning days before playing again. “We have to pass better, dribble better, shoot better, block people out and play defense better.”
Cleverly finished with seven points, Cameron Cassidy five and Camille McEwen two to back Dodge in the scoring totals. Madi Yost, Brittney Tierney, Sam Krzan, Riley Duffy, Kaidy McClafferty and Keeley Pochervina also played. The Bulldogs shot 32 percent from the floor.
Krueger had 13 points to support Bennett for Glacier.
Butte High’s next game is scheduled for Jan. 7 against Great Falls High in the Civic Center. It will launch the Eastern AA Conference part of the Bulldogs’ season.
KALISPELL GLACIER (3-1) — Taylor Salonen 2-5 1-2 5, Hailee Bennett 9-10 3-5 23, Ahna Kreitinger 0-1 1-2 1, Nikki Krueger 5-6 3-5 13, Hailey Ruggles 2-7 0-0 5, Christine Connolly 0-1 2-2 2, Anna Schrade 1-2 1-1 3, Courtney Mitchell 1-2 3-4 5, Brynn McChesney 2-3 0-0 4, ulick 1-2 0-0 2, Cadie Williams 1-1 3-4 5, Madison Rauthe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-40 17-25 68.
BUTTE HIGH (0-5) — Camille McEwen 1-4 0-0 2, Madi Yost 0-1 0-1 0, Ally Cleverly 2-8 2-4 7, Abby Dodge 5-8 6-8 16, Brittney Tierney 0-3 0-0 0, Sam Krzan 0-4 0-0 0, Cameron Cassidy 2-3 0-0 5, Riley Duffy 0-0 0-0 0, Kaidy McClafferty 0-0 0-0 0, Keeley Pochervina 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 10-32 8-13 30.
Kalispell Glacier 15 16 21 16 — 68
Butte High 9 6 7 8 — 30
3-point goals — Glacier 3-9 (Salonen 0-1, Bennett 2-3, Ruggles 1-5), Butte 2-17 (McEwen 0-2, Cleverly 1-7, Dodge 0-1, Tierney 0-1, Krzan 0-3, Cassidy 1-2, Pochervina 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Glacier 15, Butte 16. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Glacier (Salonen 5, Krueger 5), Butte 24 (Dodge 10). Blocks — Glacier 2 (Salonen 1, Mitchell 1), Butte 0. Assists — Glacier 8 (Salonen 3), Butte 2 (Dodge 1, Pochervina 1). Steals — Glacier 14 (Kreitinger 5), Butte 7 (Krzan 2). Turnovers — Glacier 14, Butte 23.