Maroon girls pull away from Copperheads

Butte Central's Mollie Peoples rips the ball away from Anaconda's Sydnie Peterson Saturday at the Maroon Activities Center. (Bill Foley photos)

By Bruce Sayler

Sometimes, the mom figure has to step in and just tell the kids to do what they’re told.

Head coach Meg Murphy apparently did just that in guiding undefeated Butte Central to 61-41 victory over neighborhood rival Anaconda Saturday in non-conference high school girls’ basketball play at the Maroon Activities Center.

“They do things well at times and then go away from it,” Murphy said, seeming only a minor bit exasperated with the Maroons. “At halftime, they got the message. The message was to play hard and we went out and pressured (Anaconda). I thought the kids played a just a little bit lackadaisical in the first quarter.”

The message was heard. The BC girls expanded a 26-20 halftime lead to a 49-27 command after three quarters with a 23-7 run in the third frame.

“Coach Meg told us we had to play like we could,” Butte Central junior Mollie Peoples said. “We attacked more. We played more aggressively. I don’t know what it was in the first half, but we just weren’t playing like we’re capable of.”

The game was a dedication to Cancer Schmancer, which had been the name of a photo album Peoples’ older sister, Mairissa, had compiled while fighting cancer. Mairissa Peoples died in March of 2014. A lot of people dressed in pink and the pink shirts were available for sale at the game in a cancer-fight fund-raiser.

The players’ pink warmup shirts displayed a quote from Mairissa Peoples before her passing at age 23: “Hope is a belief, a feeling, a wish, a promise. Hope is me.”

“I wanted to go out there and play for her,” Mollie Peoples said, the emotion evident on her face and in her voice.

She scored 12 points as one of four Butte Central players to notch double figures. Kloie Thatcher led the way with 16 points, Kailee Murphy had 14 and Emily St. John tallied 11.

Class B member Anaconda had the first lead after Molly Huber canned a 3-point basket 48 seconds into the contest. The Maroons came back with 10 straight points in a run highlighted by a Peoples 3-pointer. The quarter ended with BC ahead by 10-5.

Huber took a pass from Randee Jo Johnson to the basket to cut the Anaconda deficit to 10-7, but Butte Central responded with six consecutive points, St. John scoring the first four on two short jumpers.

Megan Michelotti and Taylor Wahl provided a spark for the Maroons with their rebounding work and defense. After the Copperheads picked up five points in a row on a Johnson 3-pointer and two Alexis Seitzinger free throws, the Maroons ran off eight consecutive. Wahl and Peoples meshed treys to ignite the spree for the Class A power.

However, Anaconda outscored BC 8-2 in the closing minutes of the half and were within 26-20 at the intermission.

“We sometimes didn’t do a good job in calling out screens and kids got blasted on defense,” coach Murphy said. “We dribbled the ball way too much in the first half. That’s a tribute to Anaconda. They played hard and boxed out well. We have to dictate what happens and we didn’t do that tonight.”

“Our kids sometimes think they can just turn around and turn it on anytime they want. I tell them they can’t afford to play that way. But sometimes we forget they’re only 14, 15, 16 years old.”

A Huber basket cut the Butte Central lead to 26-22 at the start of the third quarter, then the Maroons erupted. Kailee Murphy scored eight points and Thatcher drilled two 3-pointers in an 18-4 surge. A 5-0 BC run ended the frame and Butte Central was in control, 49-27 going into the last stanza.

“In the third quarter, we came out and played hard,” coach Murphy said. “It was important for us to get tough on defense. We got a lot of tips (leading to some of the team’s 17 steals).

“Some weird things happened in that game, though. They had a 3-pointer bounce high,, off the rafters, and drop through the basket. There was obviously nothing we could do about that, but it was maybe a six-point swing.”

Reserves played much of the fourth quarter for both teams.

Other scorers for Butte Central were Wahl with three points, Kate Ossello and Michelotti with two apiece and Sierra Pica with one. Tricia Joyce, Caleigh Mullaney, Bella Sorini and Olivia Bolton also played. Pica also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots. St. John dealt five assists.

The win put the Maroons at 11-0 for the season. They will play at Belgrade on Tuesday.
Anaconda, 3-9 for the season, was led by Huber with 14 points and Sydnie Petersen with nine.

Seitzinger, Johnson and Shea Forsberg each scored five points and Lindsey S,eitzinger hooped a 3-pointer. Johanna Forsberg, Jayden Sullivan-Utz, Arieona Mattson, Ariane Rivers and Raegan Johnson also played.

The Copperheads edged BC on the boards by a 30-28 margin in rebounds, led by Shea Forsberg with six.

ANACONDA (3-9) — Alexis Seitzinger 1-6 2-2 5, Randee Jo Johnson 2-4 0-1 5, Molly Huber 6-11 1-1 14, Katie Jorgensen 0-1 0-0 0, Shea Forsberg 2-5 0-0 5, Sydnie Petersen 2-10 3-3 9, Johanna Forsberg 0-3 0-0 0, Jayden Sullivan-Utz 0-1 0-0 0, Lindsey Seitzinger 1-1 0-0 3, Arieona Mattson 0-0 0-0 0, Ariane Rivers 0-0 0-0 0, Raegan Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-43 6-7 41.
BUTTE CENTRAL (11-0) — Kloie Thatcher 6-10 1-2 16, Mollie Peoples 5-10 0-0 12, Kailee Murphy 6-12 2-3 14, Emily St. John 5-10 0-1 11, Sierra Pica 0-2 1-2 1, Kate Ossello 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor Wahl 1-2 0-0 3, Megan Michelotti 1-1 0-0 2, Tricia Joyce 0-0 0-0 0, Caleigh Mullaney 0-1 0-0 0, Bella Sorini 0-0 0-0 0, Olivia Bolton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 4-8 61.
Anaconda                   5          15        7          14 — 41
Butte Central            10        16        23        12 — 61

3-point goals — Anaconda 7-16 (A. Seitzinger 1-2, R.J. Johnson 1-1, Huber 1-3, S. Forsberg 1-1, Petersen 2-7, Sullivan-Utz 0-1, L. Seitzinger 1-1), Butte Central 7-14 (Thatcher 3-6, Peoples 2-5, St. John 1-2, Wahl 1-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Anaconda 11, Butte Central 14. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Anaconda 30 (S. Forsberg 6), Butte Central 28 (Pica 8, Thatcher 6). Blocks — Anaconda 3 (S. Forsberg 1, Petersen 1, Raegan Johnson 1), Butte Central 4 (Pica 3, Thatcher 1). Assists — Anaconda 9 (R.J. Johnson 4), Butte Central 16 (St. John 5). Steals — Anaconda 5 (S. Forsberg 2), Butte Central 17 (Thatcher 3, Pica 3, Wahl 3). Turnovers — Anaconda 25, Butte Central 12.

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