Hard-working Bulldog girls open season Saturday

By Bill Foley

New Butte High head girls’ basketball coach Bryan Arntson can promise one thing about his Bulldogs.

They will give it everything they have each and every game.

“We will play hard,” Arntson said. “You’re going to see us get up and down the floor.  We’re going to be in your face.”

Butte High plans to show off that hard-working style Saturday when the Bulldogs open the season at home against Bozeman Gallatin. Game time is 4 p.m. at the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gymnasium.

Arntson replaces the retired Maury Cook, who led the Butte High program for six seasons. Arntson, who worked as a game official the last eight basketball seasons, put in stints as an assistant in the Butte High boys’ and girls’ programs.

The 2001 Butte High graduate is also the long-time defensive coordinator of the Bulldog football team.

Arntson’s Bulldogs include six players with substantial varsity time. The roster includes five seniors in Kodie Hoagland, Pieper Joseph, Tylar Clary, Brooke McGrath and Ashley Olson. (Roster; Schedule)

The coach said those five are leaders in the program.

“From Day 1, they bought in,” said Arntson, who was named head coach in May. “They helped out with the little kids camp. They have good leadership skills. They’ve been great role models in the community.”

Hoagland, Clary, McGrath and Olson have been contributors for the Bulldogs since their sophomore year. Joseph also saw time on varsity last season. Junior Emmarie Richards enters her third year on the varsity roster, and juniors Payton Clary and Laura Rosenleaf bring a solid year of varsity experience to the team.

Like Joseph, junior Rian Ferriter, saw limited varsity time last year.

With the lightning-quick Hoagland leading the way, the Bulldogs also have the look of an outstanding track team.

“We have to take advantage of our athleticism and our hustle,” Arntson said. “ We have to turn those chances into points.”

Butte High also has a potential power inside with Olson, a 6-foot-3 player who is coming off a strong volleyball season. The coach said she will be a focal point of the team’s offense.

“Basketball is played from the inside out,” Arntson said. “We have to get the ball down to her and then back out.”

Arntson said he is not set on his starting lineup, and the starters could change from game to game early in the season.

The Bulldogs will play three non-conference games before the Christmas break. They go to Belgrade Dec. 17 before playing Butte Central on Dec. 23.

Butte High’s varsity/JV roster includes juniors Madison Seaholm, Abby Mellott, Kiahna Wetzel, Maddi Jonart, Taylor Bushman, Oliva Spear and Brooke Groesbeck.

“The attitudes have been great,” Arntson said. “The girls have really bought in and worked hard.”

The Bulldogs have six players on the sophomore team and 12 players on the freshmen squad.

“They’re all talented kids who were coached well coming up,” Arntson said. “I’m excited to see what they bring.”

Arntson’s coaching staff includes his father Jeff, who is among the most accomplished basketball coaches in school history. He led Butte High’s girls for 10 seasons, ending in 2013. His run included three trips to the state championship game.

Other assistants are Jacqueline Paffhausen, Courtney Schad, Eddy Stewart and Josh Keltz.

“We have a good mix of experience,” Bryan Arntson said.

The Bulldogs will play home games at the Richardson Gym and the Butte Civic Center. They begin Western AA play Jan. 7 at home against Kalispell Flathead at the Civic Center. They play host to Kalispell Glacier the next day.

The Western AA Divisional tournament will be March 3-5 in Helena. The Class AA State tournament is the next week in Billings.

Bryan Arntson said the Bulldogs breaking a two-year State tournament drought will be no easy task.

“There has been some really good basketball that’s being played in the Western AA, and you’re going to see that again this year,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a night off in the Western AA this year. It’s going to be a battle.”



Recommended for you