The Butte High boys’ basketball team had its good moments again Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the team also had some bad moments as the Bulldogs fell to 0-3 with a 55-43 non-conference loss to Missoula Hellgate at the Butte Civic Center.
“I think we’re getting closer,” Butte High first-year head coach Luke Powers said. “It was an improvement over the Helena High game. It was an improvement over the Capital game. We’ve just got to play smarter and get better.”
The Bulldogs outscored Hellgate 31-30 in the second half. That, though, came after a mistake-filled first half put Butte High in too big of a hole.
“We better show up a little more focused and play better in the first half,” Powers said. “We had 10 turnovers in the first half.”
Powers, a Butte High graduate who moved to town after a successful coaching stint in North Dakota, pointed out that the Knights were the first team he was able to properly scout.
“We were prepared to play,” the coach said. “We were prepared for what they did defensively, but we just had some mental mistakes and threw the ball away.”
Those turnovers led to Hellgate scoring 12 straight points over the second half of the first quarter into the second. That turned a 6-2 Bulldog advantage into a 14-6 deficit.
On the back of junior Brock Powell, who scored nine of his 13 points in the first half, the Bulldogs were able to hang tough for a while. Powell grabbed his one rebound for a bucket to cut the lead to 16-12 with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left in the second quarter.
“Brock Powell is a big kid who is just full of energy,” Powers said. “He moves really, really well, and he stays positive in the game. I hate to take him out of the game.”
After Powell’s fourth field goal of the half, the Knights closed out the second quarter with nine straight points, capped by a 17-foot buzzer beater by Derrius Collins to send the Knights to halftime with a 25-12 advantage.
The Bulldogs responded after an “intense” halftime, opening the third frame on a 14-5 run.
Evan Anderson buried a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs to within 30-26 with 3:18 left in the third quarter.
Turnovers, again, reared their ugly head, and the Knights took back control with a 10-2 run that stretched into the fourth quarter.
Buckley Belcourt scored 10 of his team-leading 14 points in the first half to pace the Knights, who improved to 2-1 on the season.
“We got it down to four points, then we turn the ball over three times in a row,” Powers said. “It’s mental mistakes right now. It’s things that we can clean up.”
Connor Schenk scored 13 for Hellgate, which also got eight points from Justin Koehn, six from Peter Vandam and Bob Schenk and four from Landon Youbles and Collins.
Ryson Lovshin sank four 3-pointers and scored 14 to lead the Bulldogs. He hit three of those treys and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Anderson and Dylan Cook each scored eight points for the Bulldogs.
Travis Williams, Will O’Conner, Kyle Klapan, Kiley Caprara, Lathan Ricketts, Trey Hoagland and Austin Lee also contributed for the Bulldogs, who hit the road for a tough game against Missoula Big Sky on Thursday.
Powell left the game briefly in the fourth quarter when he aggravated an ankle injury first suffered in the soccer season. He returned, and Powers said he expects him back in the lineup on Thursday
Powers said the scores might not show it yet, but his squad is knocking on the door of victory. For now, though, the bad moments are outweighing the good ones.
“There’s good things, and I think we’re closer than it probably looks on paper,” the coach said. “We just have to stick with it and go back to practice.”
MISSOULA HELLGATE (2-1) — Landon Youbles 2 0-0 4, Peter Vandam 2 1-1 6, Bob Schenk 3 0-0 6, Jason Koehn 4 0-1 8, Connor Schenk 6 1-2 13, Derrius Collins 2 0-0 4, Buckley Belcourt 2 0-0 4, Justin Koehn 4 0-1 8, Collin Reid 0 0-0 0, Kade Lunday 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 2-4 55.
BUTTE HIGH (0-3) — Ryson Lovshin 4 2-2 14, Evan Anderson 3 0-0 8, Travis Williams 0 0-0 0, Dylan Cook 2 4-4 8, Brock Powell 6 1-2 13, Will O’Conner 0 0-1 0, Kyle Klapan 0 0-0 0, Kiley Caprara 0 0-0 0, Lathan Ricketts 0 0-0 0, Trey Hoagland 0 0-0 0, Austin Lee 0 0-0 0. Totals 1215 7-9 43.
Missoula Hellgate 12 13 9 21 — 55
Butte High 6 6 16 15 — 43
3-point goals — Hellgate 3 (Belcourt 2, Vandem 1), Butte 6 (Lovshin 5, Anderson 2). Fouls — 13, Butte 8. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.