Hot-shooting Bruins run past Butte High boys

Hot-shooting Bruins run past Butte High boys
Butte High's Andrew Booth looks to pass as Helena Capital's Trevor Swanson, left, and Shane Haller defend Thursday night at the Richardson Gym. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

Matt Luedke called these the “dog days” of the high school basketball season, and he did not mean that in a good way.

The Butte High boys’ basketball coach looked on as his Bulldogs suffered another tough loss Thursday night. This time it was 88-52 defeat to the hot-shooting Helena Capital Bruins at the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gymnasium.

“It’s kind of the dog days right now,” Luedtke said. “We’re just trying to figure out ways to play hard and compete.”

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Bulldogs are looking to hit their stride and find that second wind as they eye the Western A Divisional tournament in Missoula.

The Bruins have clearly already found theirs.

Capital hit on 15 shots from behind the 3-point line as they reached their season high in points. Their previous high came in a 75-44 season-opening win over Bozeman.

Trevor Swanson hit six 3-pointers and scored 25 points to lead the Bruins, who improved to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play. The 6-foot-3 senior scored 19 points to lead the Bruins to a 67-52 win over the Bulldogs Jan. 7 in Helena.

Senior Bridger Grovom connected on five 3-pointers and scored 21 points in Capital’s sixth straight win.

As hot as the Bruins were, Butte High looked prime to go toe to toe with Capital through the first 8 minutes.

Blake Drakos sank three of his four 3-pointers in the first quarter, and Mike O’Dell added two more in the first quarter. Butte High trailed 19-17, though the Bulldogs didn’t hold a single lead.

“We had an awesome first quarter. That was exciting,” Luedtke said. “We subbed down a little bit, and didn’t come out with the same intensity in the second quarter. That set the tone for the rest of the game. It’s kind of disappointing after that great first quarter because we’ve been slow starts.”

Capital scoured the first seven points of the second quarter to take a comfortable lead. The Bruins led 46-28 at halftime and pulled away to lead 74-43 after three quarters.

The Bruins closed the game with a 15-2 run.

“They’re good. They move well, they’re well coached,” Luedtke said of coach Guy Almquist’s Bruins. “He’s got a bunch of seniors who have played for him for a while now.”

“When they’re shooting the ball like that, it makes it tough.”

Malachi Syvrud came off the bench to add 10 points for Helena. Brayden Koch tossed in nine, and Shane Haller scored eight.

Drakos, a junior finished with 17 points to lead the Bulldogs. O’Dell, a sophomore, hit four 3-pointers and scored 12 points.

As a team, the Bulldogs hit on 10 shots from 3-point land.

Seniors Tommy Mellott and Andrew Booth each scored seven points for Butte High, while junior Jake Olson scored six, and sophomore Kenley Leary tossed in three.

Cael Stenson, Ryan Burt, Kaven Noctor, Cole Stewart and Eric Loos also contributed for the Bulldog, who fell to 4-10 and 3-7.

“They’re good. They’re better than we are,” said Luedtke, who is in his first year leading the Bulldogs, of the Bruins. “We played a couple of teams this year when it was like, ‘Man, that’s how we want to be.’”

The fractured ankle that is keeping junior guard Billy Kelly out of play clearly hurts the Bulldogs. Luedtke also pointed out that the team misses junior guard Zach Merrifield, who suffered a severe broken leg while playing basketball in June.

Kelly will possibly be back by divisionals. Merrifield will be back next season.

“Their ball pressure was awesome,” Luedke said of the Bruins. “They’ve got quick guards. We don’t really match up very well with them.’

While the game saw 25 total 3-pointers made, it included just 14 total fouls and nine total free throw attempts.

“We couldn’t catch up with them to foul them,” Luedtke said.

The Bulldogs have two more home games next Friday and Saturday against the Kalispell schools. After trips to Missoula Hellgate and Missoula Sentinel, the Bulldogs will head to Missoula for the March 3-7 divisional tournament.

Luedtke is hoping the Bulldogs bust out of the “dog days” by then.

“It’s just one of those deals where we’ve just got to keep fighting,” Luedtke said. “We’re just going to try to stay positive and keep doing everything we can to help our team get better. Hopefully they’ll stay positive.”

HELENA CAPITAL (10-2, 7-1) — Parker Johnston 2 0-0 4, Brayden Koch 4 0-0 9, Trevor Swanson 9 1-1 25, Bridger Grovom 7 2-4 21, Shane Haller 4 0-0 8, Ryan Quinn 1 0-0 3, Malachi Syvrud 4 0-0 10, Trysten Mooney 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Corona 0 0-0 0, Jacob Curry 0 0-0 0, Tyler Tenney 1 0-0 2, Hayden Opitz 1 0-0 2. Totals 35 3-5 88.
BUTTE HIGH (4-10, 3-7) — Blake Drakos 6 1-1 17, Tommy Mellott 3 1-1 7, Cael Stenson 0 0-0 0, Andrew Booth 3 0-0 7, Jake Olson 3 0-2 6, Kenley Leary 1 0-0 3, Mikey O’Dell 4 0-0 12, Ryan Burt 0 0-0 0, Kaven Noctor 0 0-0 0, Eric loos 0 0-0 0, Cole Stewart 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 2-4 52.
Capital                       19        27        24        18 — 88
Butte                           17        11        15          9 — 52

3-pont goals — Capital 15 (Swanson 6, Grovom 5, Syvrud 2, Quinn, Koch), Butte 10 Fouls — Capital 8, Butte 6. Fouled out — None. Technicals — none.

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