Hot-shooting Maroons singe Bulldog boys

Hot-shooting Maroons singe Bulldog boys
Jack Keeley Knocks down a corner 3 ball Tuesday. (Photo By John Robbins Butte Sports

By Bruce Sayler

The arena finally felt like home for both teams and their supporters.

Class AA Butte High and Class A Butte Central both had the homecourt advantage Tuesday night as the Butte Civic Center re-opened to public activity with the nonconference city high school basketball championships.

The Butte Central boys beat Butte High’s 76-47 in the nightcap after Butte High’s girls defeated Butte Central’s 62-32. One three-man officiating crew from Bozeman called both games.

The Maroons’ win in the boys’ game was their third straight over the Bulldogs and fourth in five years. Butte High’s overall lead in the series is 94-80-1.

Butte Central never trailed Tuesday night. Dougie Peoples drilled the first basket for a quick start by the Maroons. Jace Stenson answered for the Bulldogs before Peoples’ drives to the hoop resulted in the BC boys taking control.

The hoops drew fouls, put Peoples on the foul line and saddled Butte High defenders with foul trouble. Peoples meshed his first six free throws around a pullup jumper by Bulldog freshman Hudson Luedtke as Butte Central went ahead 6-4. Junior Jack Keeley checked into the game and scored off passes by Kyle Holter and Eric Loos as the Maroons tore to an 18-6 command. They led 23-9 at the end of the first quarter and Peoples went on to score 23 points in his last Butte High-Butte Central game. Keeley tallied 23 toward the win.

It was BC’s 11th straight, putting them at 11-1 for the season.

“I am really happy with the way we played from start to finish,” Butte Central head coach Brodie Kelly said. “I thought our cutting really made a difference tonight. Dougie hit some shots and started finding guys (for easier baskets) and it got contagious.”

Keeley’s lift, though, might have been the unforeseen variable – a 23-point performance off the bench in the city’s highlight game. The 6-foot-2 junior was 8-for-10 from the field and caged a trio of 3-point baskets.

“Jack is so great,” Kelly said. “I’m so happy for him. His cutting got him going. He made some layups and then knocked down some shot and did a really good job, defensively, too.”

Butte Central baskets by Loos and Owen McPartland began the second quarter and the Maroons widened their lead to 20 points, 35-15, after Cam Gurnsey and Bo Demarais put together a four-point burst for Butte High. The spark left the gap 29-15, but ignited the BC boys. Keeley took a pass from Kyle Holter for a bucket, then Peoples sank back-to-back long 3-pointers – the latter one from just east of Family Dollar.

Stenson netted a trey for the Bulldogs, but Butte Central was afire. The Maroons went 7-for-10 from the floor in the second period and led 42-23 at halftime. They shot 56 percent from the field for the game and drained eight 3-pointers.

“They’re a good shooting team, but it is easier to shoot when the defense is poor,” Butte High head coach Matt Luedtke said. “They’re a great team, make no mistake. But, we weren’t very good defensively. Our guys weren’t in sync.

“Offensively, we missed too many free throws and too many 3s. We missed too many easy baskets. It was a disappointing effort for us, but we played a really good team.”

The Maroons continued to dominate after halftime and enjoyed a 59-32 cushion through three quarters. They pushed their advantage past the 30-point difference on a Peoples three-point play that gave BC a 66-35 margin with five minutes left in the game.

“It was a big win,” Loos, who played his freshman year at Butte High before transferring the next year. “We always bring the energy to this game. We’ve been practicing all week for these guys.”

The 6-4 senior post then noted that the Maroons had a little extra practice than expected for this game. The BC boys were to play at home against Corvallis on Saturday, but dangerous wintry weather with severe cold and icy roads influenced officials to postpone the game on the side of safety. So, instead of playing Corvallis Saturday, Loos said Kelly improvised a practice for them to prepare for Butte High.

“We watched 20 minutes of film on them and then went about planning how we wanted to play them,” he said.

Loos credited with the Maroons being able to stay in character of their style of defense and with working together offensively in chalking up the decisive win.

“Our defense did a good job of staying down and getting a hand on the ball, which led to some transition baskets,” Kelly said. “Their guys are good players, too, and tough.”

Kelly noted the Bulldogs have been playing well, too, and command respect.

The tempo and physical nature of the clash pulled the bench players into the spotlight. Their services were needed in the exhausting styles of play.

“ ‘Porch’ (Konnor Pochervina) was tough for us tonight,” Kelly said. “He became a key player when we had a couple of players with fouls.”

Luedtke said he had thought the Bulldogs were on the upswing after their win over Class AA leader Helena High on Friday.

“We just beat a really good team and I thought that would lift us up,” he said. “But, we have not played well in this crosstown game since I’ve been coach. It’s disappointing all the way around. As coaches, we have to do a better job of getting the team ready for games like this.”

He agreed a bright spot was that the result has no bearing on the conference standings and exposed some areas the coaches and players can work on to make the team stronger.

The Bulldogs are now 5-5 for the season and were led by Stenson with 20 points and DeMarais with 10. Gurnsey finished with eight, Hudson Luedtke scored five, and Jonas Sherman and Tocher Lee tallied two each. Casey Merrifield and Dylan Bache also played.

Holter finished with nine points to back Peoples and Keeley for Butte Central. Loos had eight, McPartland five, Zane Moodry four, and Ryan Peoples and Patrick Stimatz each stuck a fourth-quarter 3-pointer. Joshua Sutton and Justus McGee also played. Holter pulled down 10 rebounds and Loos eight as the Maroons outrebounded the Bulldogs by 37-23.

Kyle Holter Drives the lane Tuesday night. (Photo JOhn Robbins Butte Sports.

Butte High will play at Kalispell Glacier on Friday and at Kalispell Flathead on Saturday in Western AA games. The Maroons’ next game is set for Friday in Frenchtown in Southwestern A Conference play. They will then be home on Saturday against Livingston in a non-league tilt.

BUTTE HIGH (5-5) – Jace Stenson 6-14 6-7 20, Cam Gurnsey 4-9 0-1 8, Jonas Sherman 1-3 0-0 2, Hudson Luedtke 1-5 3-4 5, Casey Merrifield 0-5 0-0 0, Tocher Lee 1-7 0-0 2, Bo Demarais 4-4 2-3 10, Dylan Bache 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-48 11-15 47.

BUTTE CENTRAL (11-1) – Kyle Holter 4-6 1-2 9, Zane Moodry 2-6 0-0 4, Owen McPartland 2-4 0-0 5, Eric Loos 3-5 2-2 8, Dougie Peoples 6-13 9-10 23, Jack Keeley 8-10 2-2 21, Konnor Pochervina 0-1 0-1 0, Joshua Sutton 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Peoples 1-1 0-0 3, Patrick Stimatz 1-2 0-0 3, Justus McGee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-48 14-17 76.

Butte High           9             14           9             15 – 47

Butte Central     23           19           17           17 – 76

3-point goals – BH 2-13 (Stenson 2-5, Gurnsey 0-1, Merrifield 0-3, Lee 0-4), BC 8-17 (Holter 0-2, McPartland 1-3, D. Peoples 2-4, Keeley 3-4, Sutton 0-1, R. Peoples 1-1, Stimatz 1-2). Fouled out – none. Total fouls – BH 15, BC 14. Technicals – none. Rebounds – BH 23 (Gurnsey 6), BC 37 (Holter 10, Loos 8). Blocks – none. Assists – BH 2 (Luedtke 1, Stenson 1), BC 11 (Holter 4, D. Peoples 3, Sutton 2), Steals BH 7 (Stenson 3), BC 7 (Holter 3). Turnovers – BH 9, BC 9.


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