Keeley muscles up Maroons to flip Frenchtown

By Bruce Sayler
Butte Central coiled in the first half and struck in the second.
It took a Herculean effort to beat a good, big Frenchtown team and 6-foot-2 senior Jack Keeley provided the muscle for the Maroons in their 63-57 bridling of the Broncs. Keeley poured in 29 points in BC’s important Western AA Conference high school boys’ basketball win at the Maroon Activities Center (MAC) Tuesday evening.
Typically, in this league, the outcome was assured until the end.
“It was another Southwestern A Conference battle,” sighed Butte Central head coach Brodie Kelly, already plotting for another big showdown with Hamilton on Saturday. “This was just an amazing performance by Jack Keeley. It was as gutsy an individual game as I’ve ever seen. He challenged the leading scorer in Class A (6-7Frenchtown star and Montana Tech recruit Eli Quinn) the whole first half. He was amazing on defense and in leadership and determination.”
Keeley tallied 11 of his points and then 12 in the third as the Maroons gained a 48-46 edge heading into the final period. Quinn, son of former Montana Tech standouts Mark Quinn and Lori (Stamy) Quinn, had meshed 23 of his team-high 27 points before the final quarter arrived.
He got the lead back for the Broncs and then 6-4 freshman teammate Hank Smith caged a free throw and the Broncs owned a 49-46 advantage a minute and a half into the last frame. Owen McPartland quickly re-knotted the score for the Maroons with a 3-point basket off a pass from Joshua Sutton. BC sophomore Ryan Peoples then snared a steal and drove for a hoop. Butte Central was ahead, 51-49, with 6 minutes left.
Frenchtown showed it was in it for the duration. Leighton Cyr scored from inside but was unable to convert the and-one. Quinn, though, canned two foul shots and the Broncs were again in front, 53-51.
Keeley caught the Maroons up with a basket, but Bow Petersen responded for the Broncs with a 3-pointer for a 56-53 lead with 3:17 on the clock. The Maroons erupted. McPartland drilled another 3-ball and Peoples flipped in a floater. Keeley notched a turnaround jumper from the 3-point line and then McPartland filled the hoop with two charity tosses. It was a 9-0 BC run and Butte Central was in front by 62-56 with 32 seconds still to evaporate.
Peoples’ defensive play that forced a shot clock violation by Frenchtown with Quinn holding the ball was a key factor in the Maroons’ surge.
Cyr hit a freebie with 24 seconds left as Frenchtown battled back. Keeley was unable to coax either of two free throws into the net after being fouled by Quinn. Jaxon Haynes rebounded for the Broncs and a shot by Petersen was blocked by BC freshman Parker Robertson. Sutton drew a foul and made the foul Butte Central had its win, also a season sweep of the Broncs. Butte Central won by 67-43 in Frenchtown earlier in the season.
“Eli played an unbelievable game for them,” Kelly said. “He makes things look so easy. He is an amazing player.”
Kelly and Mark Quinn, who is from Butte and starred at Butte High, were teammates for Montana Tech. Mark Quinn has coached Frenchtown in the past.
Kelly said defensive pressure in the second half ignited the Maroons, picking up the fullcourt press while adjusting to having to play most of the game without 6-5 senior Zane Moodry. The tallest BC player got into early foul trouble and left 20 seconds into the fourth quarter with his quota. Keeley, McPartland and Robertson rotated on Quinn, wearing on Bronc star.
Frenchtown threw a zone at the Maroons and challenged them to shoot over it. They went 3-for-10 from behind the arc in the first half, 6-for-16 for the game. However, their overall shooting was good, 55 percent from the floor.
“Parker Robertson and GG Fantini, our two freshman scrappers, did a great job for us and have been doing a great job,” Kelly said. “The perseverance they give us and, though they’re undersized, they’re tough as nails.”
Robertson, at 5-8, was Moodry’s main replacement – a yielding of nine inches at the spot. Undersized is a BC theme. Butte Central has only Moodry and Keeley above the 6-foot mark in the regular rotation. Butte Central leveled with ball control. The Maroons were victimized by a steal only once and were charged with just three turnovers for the game.
Frenchtown rolled out to a 12-5 advantage to start the game on a surge led by Petersen and Quinn. A 6-0 run from Robertson, Sutton and Keeley closed the gap to a point, but the Broncs led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter as Quinn and Cyr both scored before the end of the frame.
The gap widened to 22-11 as Haynes and Quinn buried back-to-back 3-pointers to launch the second quarter. The Maroons made only a minor dent in it and halftime came with Frenchtown in control, 34-26.
Smith scored twice on jumpers and the spread expanded to 38-26 with 6:23 to go in the third quarter. Peoples knocked down a pullup, however, and lit the Maroons’ fuse. McPartland converted an and-one opportunity and followed it with a 3-pointer, then Keeley capped the run with an inside basket in a crowd. The difference was two points, 38-36, with 4:35 on the third-quarter clock.
Quinn temporarily blunted the BC rally with a 3-point bucket, then Keeley muscled in a shot and followed it with a pullup. The Maroons were within a point, 41-40. Quinn fired in a turnaround jump shot for a three-point Frenchtown lead again. Keeley was on fire. He scored on a short jumper and then funneled through two charity tosses. Butte Central had a lead, 44-43, with a minute to go in the third period.
Henry Griffin, a burly 6-2 sophomore, succeeded on a three-point play and Frenchtown led again, 46-44. However, Keeley drove the court as time ran down and caged the layup at the buzzer. It was 46-all with the fourth quarter on deck.
“Owen McPartland hit some really big shots for us,” Kelly said. “When he got that 3 to match them (49-all), that was a really big deal.”
McPartland finished with 17 points to back Keeley in the BC totals. Sutton and Peoples had six points apiece, Fantini three and Robertson two. Moodry got a rebound in limited play, and Patrick Stimatz also saw action.
Petersen had eight points to follow Quinn in the scorebook for Frenchtown.
The game was part of Butte Central’ls under Pink Night Cancer Schmancer fund-raiser. It is held annually in honor of BC alum Marissa Peoples who succumbed to cancer 10 years ago at the age of 24. Player Ryan Peoples was her cousin.
Butte Central is 13-2 for the season, 6-1 in conference and is to be home Saturday for a 5:30 game against Hamilton in the MAC. Frenchtown fell to 9-5 and 3-4. The Broncs are to play at Stevensville on Friday.
FRENCHTOWN (9-5, 3-4) – Leighton Cyr 2-4 1-3 5, Dugan Yonce 1-2 0-0 2, Bow Petersen 3-7 0-0 8, Eli Quinn 9-19 6-7 27, Hank Smith 3-5 1-2 7, Henry Griffin 1-4 1-1 3, Jaxon Haynes 2-3 0-0 5, Konnor Klimpel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 9-13 57.
BUTTE CENTRAL (13-2, 6-1) – Joshua Sutton 2-4 1-2 6, Ryan Peoples 3-6 0-0 6, Jack Keeley 13-19 2-4 29, Owen McPartland 5-10 4-5 17, Ryan Moodry 0-1 0-0 0, Parker Robertson 0-1 2-2 2, Patrick Stimatz 0-1 0-0 0, GG Fantini 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 24-44 9-13 63.
Frenchtown 16 18 12 11 – 57
Butte Central 11 15 20 17 – 63
Three-point goals – Frenchtown 6-21 (Yonce 0-1, Petersen 2-5, Quinn 3-12, Griffin 0-1, Haynes 1-2), BC 6-16 (Sutton 1-1, Peoples 0-2, Keeley 1-3, McPartland 3-7, Stimatz 0-1, Fantini 1-2). Fouled out – Moodry. Total fouls – Frenchtown 17, Butte Central 13. Technical – none. Rebounds – Frenchtown 29 (Quinn), Butte Central 16 (Sutton 5). Blocks – Frenchtown 2 (Quinn 2), Butte Central 1 (Robertson). Assists – Frenchtown 11 (Yonce 4), Butte Central 11 (Sutton 4). Steals – Frenchtown 1 (Quinn), Butte Central 4 (Peoples 2). Turnovers – Frenchtown 12, Butte Central 3.