They call her Glen.
Actually, that’s what Aleesha LaBreche started calling herself when she was a freshman at Butte Central
“I can’t even call her Aleesha,” BC coach Meg Murphy says. “We call her Glen, and you’d have to ask her why.”
“Since freshman year it’s just kind of been my nickname,” LaBreche says. “At practice we were goofing off one day and they just started calling me Glen because I’m kind of just a goofball sometimes”
Now a senior, LaBreche has a new title — at least for one day. Today she is Butte Central’s hero.
LaBreche, er Glen, grabbed a rebound on an off-balanced Alysea Pica shot. Then she tossed in the game-winning shot as the Maroons kept their season alive with a 39-37 win over Columbia Falls in a loser-out game at the Class A State girls’ basketball tournament at the Butte Civic Center.
The victory means the Maroons still have hope of capturing the third-place trophy. That’s the best they can do after being upset by Browning in the first round on Thursday.
The game-winning shot came with 8 seconds left. As the Wildcats scrambled to try to tie the game, fellow senior Hannah Stajcar stole the ball and ran out the clock.
“I knew there was still time,” LaBreche says of the seconds between her shot and Stajcar’s steal. “I kept telling myself ‘We’ve got to believe, we’ve got to believe.’ We want that third-place trophy. That’s what we care about since we can’t get the first-place one anymore. We want this more than anything.”
To say that LaBreche in an unlikely hero is an understatement.
The senior totaled just 10 points in Butte Central’s previous 21 games this season. Her season-high was four points Jan. 5 against Livingston.
In fact, the only reason LaBreche was on the court at the end of the game was because the Maroons were without their top two rebounders. Mariah Cooney fouled out with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left, and Danee Leary was on the bench with an injury she suffered last week.
Still, that’s not to say that LaBreche doesn’t play a key role for the Butte Central girls.
“She’s been our person who has always been cheering on the bench,” Murphy says. “She keeps everybody up.”
That’s a role that LaBreche has always embraced.
“I know I’m not the best basketball player,” she says. “I just kind of went out for fun, and I really enjoy our coaches. Meg is great to me. She always gives me compliments for cheering on my team from the bench. That always puts a smile on my face. Being with my friends is what I love.”
Murphy didn’t hesitate in going to LaBreche with the season on the line.
“When Mariah had four fouls and Kels says, ‘What do you want to do if she fouls out?'” Murphy said, referring to assistant coach Kelci Thatcher. “I said, ‘Go with the senior.'”
LaBreche didn’t hesitate, either.
“I heard my name and I knew that they put me in for a reason,” she says. “Things happen for a reason, and I knew I had to go in and get the rebounds.”
Before she hit the big shot, LaBreche took a charge that wiped out the potential go-ahead basket by Columbia Falls’ Hope Burlage.
“We have this thing when you take a charge you get a steak dinner,” LaBreche says. “So I was thinking, ‘Oh, I might as well take that charge.’ So I stepped in and took that charge, and it was kind of a big moment.”
Then when Pica was forced into the tough shot that turned into a pretty good pass, LaBreche was in the perfect spot.
“It was kind of like my first basket I ever made in varsity last year,” she says. “It was really high off the backboard, and it somehow went in. I thought for sure that she’d just hack me and I’d go to the line and somehow put it in. I never thought I’d make the bunny like that.”
The BC faithful seemed extra elated because of the unlikely hero in the victory. Nobody was more excited than Murphy.
“She’s a kid who doesn’t play a whole ton, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. I couldn’t be happier for her,” the coach said. ” For her to have that is just awesome. Awesome.”