It was a night of unlikely heroes for the Maroons.
Sophomore Danny Peoples scored eight of his 11 points during a momentum-turning stretch in the third quarter, and the Butte Central boys’ basketball team beat Corvallis 50-27 Thursday night in the first round of the Southwestern A tournament at the Maroon Activities Center.
The Maroons (13-6) will play Dillon in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday.
A date with the defending Class A State champion Beavers, though, looked like anything but a lock as the Blue Devils caught fire to open the third quarter.
Corvallis outscored BC 9-2 to open the third quarter, turning a 20-7 game into a white-knuckle affair at 22-16 after Jayce Gilder converted a 3-point play.
Sophomore Dalton Sessions fed Connor McGree for a bucket to slow the bleeding before the Maroons called timeout with 3 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
That kicked off the Danny Peoples Show.
Peoples scored on a fast break, stole the in-bound pass, and hit a 3-pointer to put the Maroons up 29-16.
“We started off slow at the beginning of the second half,” Peoples said after matching a career-high 11 points off the bench. “We called time out and I got in. We needed a spark, and I guess we did that.”
When Chase Walker hit a pair of free throws and Andrew Leopold scored on a put back to cut the lead to 30-20 a couple minutes later, Peoples was there again to answer with a 3-pointer.
“He saved our bacon in the third quarter with those steals and the shots he hit in the scramble situations,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said.
Kelly praised the maturity of Peoples during a time when the MAC was going crazy. Kelly pointed to Peoples’ first 3-pointer. After stealing the ball, Peoples passed the ball before getting it back and swishing the three.
“The nice thing about that was that he got the steal and he didn’t just chuck it,” Kelly said. “He held his composure, passed the ball, got it back, squared up and hit a shot. That saved the game.”
Kelly also noticed that Sessions, who came off the bench to score seven points, hit a couple of big shots in the second half, too.
“That was the best game he’s played all year,” the coach said of Sessions. “He was awesome on both ends of the floor.”
Any Blue Devil comeback hopes were killed when senior Brady Tippett, the team’s leading scorer on the season, scored 13 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“Brady closed the deal for us,” Kelly said. “But without Danny and Dalton in that second half, we were struggling.”
Butte Central’s defense made the Blue Devils struggle in the first half.
Marcus Ferriter and McGree scored on put backs before Tippett sank a 3-pointer as BC opened the game with a 7-0 run.
Corvallis didn’t score until Walker hit a bucket from the paint with 3:01 left in the first quarter.
The Maroons led 10-5 after the first quarter and opened the second quarter with 10 straight points before taking a 20-7 lead into halftime. Corvallis’ only points of the second quarter came when Walker scored off a Gilder pass 40 seconds before halftime.
The easy feeling from the BC home crowd quickly turned to angst, however.
Walker scored inside and then hit a jumper to open the third. Then Alma Powell banked in a bucket.
Sessions scored in the paint to seemingly slow the Blue Devils. Then Gilder sped things back up with his 3-point play.
“Chase Walker had a bunch of points right at the beginning of the second half,” Peoples noted. “They’re a solid team.”
Walker tossed in 10 points to lead the Blue Devils (2-17), who head to loser-out play on Saturday morning. Jansen Jessop scored six, while Gilder tallied five.
Nate Bolstad, who was under the weather, scored seven points. That included back-to-back 3-pointers in BC’s 10-0 run in the second quarter.
“He was sick last night and sick this morning,” Kelly said of the 6-foot-4 junior. “He toughed it out, but you could tell he didn’t have the same energy he normally does.”
McGree scored five points, while Wyatt Kingston and Chad Peterson scored one.
Kale Guldseth dished out five assists. Emmett McCarthy, Sean Burt and Dylan Goodell also played for the Maroons, who were swept by Dillon in the regular season.
Kelly said he’s hopeful Thursday’s win will give his team a boost for Round 3 with the Beavers.
“It was a good first game,” the coach said. “It was good to get some momentum.”