Luedtke’s buzzer-beater sends Bengals packing

If the Mining City has learned anything from the three previous Bulldog home games, it’s that this team has ice in their veins. Today’s game against the Helena High Bengals was a roller coaster ride that raised your blood pressure while simultaneously releasing non-stop endorphins. Don’t call a doctor; it’s just Bulldog basketball. 

The Butte High Bulldogs hosted senior night as they played the red-hot Helena High Bengals, who have won 6 out of their last 7 games. In their previous match-up against each other on January 27th, Helena High defeated the ‘Dogs in a 70-42 blowout. It looked like a similar outcome would be repeated in the first half. The Butte High Bulldogs found themselves down by as much as 16 points, but their sheer tenacity found them swinging back and connecting more and more throughout the game.

The first quarter was one that the Bulldogs wished they had a Mulligan for. The ‘Dogs scored five points off ten shots and went 1 for 3 on the free-throw line. The play designs were run perfectly, but the shots didn’t want to go in. Senior forward Bo Demarias gave Butte High their first bucket of the game in their first possession. The only other bucket scored for the Bulldogs came from Hudson Luedtke when he was fouled on the lay-up. His free-thrown narrowed the score to 6-5, but Helena’s returning All-State junior guard Tevin Wetzel scored five straight to extend the Bengal lead to 11-5.

The main source of the Bulldogs scoring in the second quarter came from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs went 7 for 9 on the line, with Torre Tempel going 2 for 2, Hudson Luedkte going 4 for 4, and Rueso Battermann going 1 for 3. Battermann opened the Bulldog’s second quarter with a contested lay-up and-one. Throughout the second quarter, Helena’s defense forced the Bulldogs to take awkward shots while also being able to score off turnovers. The Bulldog defense stood stout, forcing seven turnovers in the second quarter, but the struggles offensively couldn’t get ‘Dogs out of the hole. The Bengals had their largest lead of the night with a 28-12 lead with under two minutes to go in the half. The Bulldogs ended the half on a 4-0 run off Luedtkes and Tempel’s free-throws.

The third quarter saw Butte High take possession of the rebounds and found light in the form of Dylan “Bobby” Bache. The Dogs opened the third quarter with an 11-3 run and narrowed the Bengals lead to 34-27 with 2:22 left in the third. Bache scored ten of the Bulldogs 16 third-quarter points on his own, with six coming off back-to-back treys in the final minutes. With Helena playing hard-nosed defense inside the paint, the Dogs were forced to find success from beyond the arc. Tempel, Battermann, and Luedtke added two points of their own to the scoring sheet. The defense allowed just nine third-quarter points to the Bengals. The Bulldogs inched their way back into the game in stellar fashion, with the Bengal’s lead being 37-32 at the end of three.

The fourth quarter was one for the ages. With the crowd in Ross J. Richardson gym as loud as can be and the student section as rowdy as ever, the Bulldogs were geared for another comeback. Similar to the third quarter, the Dog’s fourth began with an 8-2 run led by Hudson Luedtke. The Bulldogs had their first lead of the game when they went up 40-39 with 6 minutes left in the contest. Helena would continue to remain in the competition off the back of All-State junior Jaxon Lieberg. With the score 44-43, Lieberg’s three-pointer would bring the Bengals back with a 46-44 lead, but not before Tocher Lee would come alive with a three of his own to help maintain a one-point lead with two minutes to go. After a Wetzel free-throw, the game would be tied 47-47 with 1:30 to go.

After a two-pointer from senior Kyler Larson gave the Bengals the lead with 45 seconds to go, Tocher Lee drained a three-ball from the right wing to give the Dogs a one-point lead. Helena didn’t go down without a fight. A missed shot from Helena went out of bounds off Butte High. After a quick inbounds pass, Jaxon Lieberg clutched a two-point bucket with just 5.6 seconds to go on the game clock. With the crowd stunned and the student section angry, the only thing left for Butte High to do was to drive down and win it.

Luedtke would take the inbound pass but would be fouled hard at midcourt with 4 seconds remaining. Bache would inbound the ball to Luedtke at midcourt, where Luedtke would take a few seconds to get into position for the dagger. With the clock ticking, Luedtke unloads from downtown. With the ball hanging in the air for what seemed like minutes, the clock strikes zero, and the ball swishes through the net. It’s a game-winning bucket for Hudson Luedtke and the Butte High Bulldogs as they win 53-51***. The student section storms the court with the rest of Ross J. Richardson gymnasium on their feet. Luedtke would end the game with 23 points, 12 of those points being in the fourth quarter.

LUEDTKE. IS. HIM. Luedtke has that dog in him. Luedtke has ice in his veins. Whatever you want to say about this sophomore phenom, remember that he is only a sophomore and will continue improving throughout the next two seasons.

With the scoring effort for the Bulldogs being led by Luedtke’s 23 points, Bobby Bache would finish the game with 13 of his own points. Tocher Lee’s two clutch three-pointers were his only game points, but they came at the best possible time. Rueso Battermann would total 5 points while also leading the team in rebounding. Torre Tempel finished with 4 points, and Bo Demarias’s two points at the start of the game rounded out the scoring efforts for the Bulldogs.

Half of the Helena Highs scoring was done by Jaxon Lieberg, who finished with 26 points in the game. His all-state teammate Tevin Wetzel scored 15 points, followed by Kyler Larson with 4, Sam Ark with 3 points, Dylan Mosness with 2 points, and Cayton Delsigne with 1 point.

The Bulldogs travel to the capital city on Saturday, February 24th, for their final regular season game against the Helena Capital Bruins at 2:00 pm at Capital High School.

Congrats to seniors Bo Demarias and Rueso Battermann, and best of luck to all future endeavors.

***Sidenote: The official score says Butte High won 52-51, but Luedtke’s game-winning three-pointer should mean the Bulldogs won 53-51.