Luedtke lights it up for 32 as Bulldogs hand Maroons first loss

By Bruce Sayler

The fire department was on alert. They almost burned the barn.
Not so complimentary a description of the Butte Civic Center, but the sports castle was the site Friday night of some hot shooting and blazing competition. Shooting a blistering 59 percent from the field and led by sophomore Hudson Luedtke’s 32 points, Butte High won the city high school boys’ basketball championship by topping Butte Central 76-67.
Twenty minutes after Butte High dropped the Maroons 52-26 in the girls’ half of the doubleheader, a Bozeman referee tossed the boys’ basketball in the air and it, the fierce, action was on. It stayed stuck on the high level until the final buzzer. Know the boys are tired, maybe even exhausted. Know, too, that the large crowd was duly entertained.
“That was a great basketball game, the most complete game we’ve played this season,” Butte High head coach Matt Luedtke, father of his team’s scoring star, said. “It was on from the tip and it was fun, it was phenomenal.”
Luedtke is in his fifth season at the Bulldogs’ helm and the win was his first in the Butte High-Butte Central rivalry. Butte High’s last win over BC was on February 7, 2019, when the Bulldogs prevailed 61-57 in overtime, Bill Foley of the ButteCast confirmed. He relayed that the Maroons’ Cade Holter hit a three-quarter shot to send the game into OT. Butte Central had a three-game winning streak in the series until Friday’s Butte High victory, Foley said.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Matt Luedtke said. “Our guys kept stepping up and making plays. Both teams came to play. Central is a good team and they really came to play.
“That was a divisional, state (tournament) type of atmosphere. We had contributions from everybody. Hudson scored 32 and was lights-out, but everybody who went in for us stepped up.”
Butte Central head coach Brodie Kelly had a little different perspective. The loss was the Class A Maroons’ first after a 6-0 start to the season.
“If you like offense (it was a good game),” Kelly said in a quiet hallway outside the Maroons’ locker room. “Hudson is an amazing player and we didn’t adjust the way we defended him. We weren’t guarding him very well.
“We need a lot of work on our individual defense, just the ability to guard. We’re going to be undersized in all of our games, so we can’t just bet on our offense.”
Seniors Jack Keeley, at 6-foot-2, and Zane Moodry, at 6-5, are the only BC players in the regular rotation who stand 6-feet or taller. The Butte High team is small by Class AA standards.
“No excuses,” Kelly said. “The game was close and we are young. No excuses. I don’t think, tonight, any of our problems were caused by our youth.”
The game was close. However, at the very start, it didn’t look like it might be. Butte High ran out to a 9-0 lead as 5-8 junior guard Tocher Lee drove for a hoop, sank two free throws and flipped a pass Luedtke caged for two points. Lee finished the opening surge with a 3-pointer on a kickout pass from Luedtke.
Freshman Josh Sutton, a 5-11 Butte Central guard, then took over the spotlight. He scored all 13 Maroon points of the first quarter, which ended with the Bulldogs leading BC 18-13. Sutton meshed three 3-pointers in the first frame. He went on to finish with 24 points.
Luedtke muscled in from the paint for the first points of the second quarter and then Sutton drilled another trey, notching Butte Central’s first 16 points of the game. Butte Central gained a 23-20 lead as Moodry scored on a nifty inside pass from Keeley, Sutton knocked down a pullup jumper and Keeley buried a 3-pointer.
“Josh did a really good job of getting good looks at the basket for us in the first half,” Kelly said.
The Bulldogs caught back up at 26-all as Luedtke canned a pullup from 12 feet. A Keeley 3-pointer and a free throw by Owen McPartland broke a 30-all tie and gave BC a 34-30 edge with just more than a minute left in the half. Dylan “Bobby” Bache pushed through a rebound basket for Butte High. Moodry tallied for Butte Central before the half ended 23 seconds after Luedtke drained a trey.
Butte Central clung to a 36-35 edge at intermission.
The Bulldogs, though, grabbed the lead early in the second half and kept it, despite constant challenge from the Maroons.
A Luedtke bucket put up the first points of the second half and BC retook the edge as McPartland hooped a 3-pointer. It was the last lead for Butte Central.
Bache scored from inside and Luedtke followed with a 3-ball. A varied, balanced attack from the Bulldogs slowly widened the margin and they carried a 55-50 advantage into the final period.
An and-one combination by 5-8 freshman Parker Robertson pulled the Maroons to within 57-56 with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left in the contest. Bache netted a foul shot and Lee drove for a hoop in Butte High’s response. With the Bulldogs ahead by 62-59 after a Moodry rebound bucket for BC, 6-0 junior Trey McCarthy subbed in for Butte High and arched in a triple to start a 7-0 run. A charity toss made by Luedtke and a steal-and-layup play by Lee finished the run and the Bulldogs had a double-digit lead, 69-59, with 2:29 left on the clock.
Keeley was good on four straight charity freebies, but Butte High answered with its clinching 5-0 surge. Rueso Batterman had a basket and a free throw around a basket by Lee and the Bulldogs owned their biggest margin, 74-63. Only 47 seconds remained.
Lee wound up with 13 points and Bache with 12 to back Luedtke in the scoring totals for Butte High. Battermann had seven, Torre Tempel six, McCarthy three, Bo Demarais two and 6-6 freshman Braylon Larson one. Tyson Zeren and Spencer Callaghan also played. The Bulldogs outrebounded Butte Central 30-18 as the 6-1 Bache pulled down 11 caroms and the 6-2 Luedtke corralled eight. The 6-5 Demarais blocked three shots and Bache dished four assists. Lee came up with three steals.
The Maroons shot 25-for-55 from the field and placed three in double figures in points. Sutton’s 24 was followed by McPartland with 17 and Keeley with 15. The BC shooters were 10-for-25 from 3-point land. Moodry finished with six points, Robertson with three and Ryan Peoples with two. Patrick Stimatz and GG Fantini also saw significant court time. Keeley collected eight rebounds, three assists and four steals in a fine all-around game.
“It was big for us to make plays and keep our composure,” coach Luedtke said. “I’m so proud of the guys.”
The Bulldogs made six of 10 attempts from the 3-point stripe.
Hudson Luedtke is Butte High’s only returning starter from last year. The Bulldogs now have a 2-2 record heading into the 2024 portion of their schedule, which is to begin with Missoula Hellgate on January 4 in the Civic Center to launch Western AA Conference play.
After graduating three standouts last year from the 2022 state Class A championship BC team, the Maroons’ 6-0 start on the season had been regarded as a surprise.
“I think, at the beginning of the year, nobody knew what to expect from us in wins and losses,” Kelly said. “And, we haven’t played a conference game yet, so I feel like we’re still at the starting line.”
The BC team breaks for the holidays with a 6-1 mark and is to return to action on January 4 with a non-conference game at neighborhood Class B rival Anaconda.
BUTTE CENTRAL (6-1) – Josh Sutton 10-14 0-0 24, Ryan Peoples 1-3 0-0 2, Jack Keeley 4-10 5-8 15, Owen McPartland 6-15 1-2 17, Ryan Moodry 3-5 0-0 6, Patrick Stimatz 0-4 0-0 0, Parker Robertson 1-3 1-1 3, GG Fantini 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 7-11 67.
BUTTE HIGH (2-2) – Tocher Lee 6-10 0-0 13, Bo Demarais 1-3 0-0 2, Dylan Bache 4-10 4-5 12, Hudson Luedtke 11-17 6-8 32, Rueso Battermann 3-3 1-2 7, Braylon Larson 0-1 1-2 1, Torre Tempel 3-4 0-0 6, Tyson Zeren 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer Callaghan 0-0 0-0 0, Trey McCarthy 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 29-49 12-17 76.
Butte Central 13 23 14 17 – 67
Butte High 18 17 20 21 – 76
3-point goals – Butte Central 10-25 (Sutton 4-6, Peoples 0-2, Keeley 2-4, McPartland 4-9, Stimatz 0-4), Butte High 6-10 (Lee 1-4, Luedtke 4-5, Tempel 0-1). Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Butte Central 16, Butte High 14. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Butte Central 18 (Keeley 8), Butte High 30 (Bache 11, Luedtke 8). Blocks – Butte Central 1 (McPartland), Butte High 4 (Demarais 3, Larson 1). Assists – Butte Central 9 (Keeley 3), Butte High 9 (Bache 4). Steals – Butte Central 8 (Keeley 4), Butte High 9 (Lee 3). Turnovers – Butte Central 7, Butte High 10.

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