For 48 or so Butte athletes, Thursday night will be one that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
The Butte Central Maroons will meet the Butte High Bulldogs on the basketball court at the Butte Civic Center. The girls’ match-up is at 6 p.m. The boys’ game will follow at about 7:30.
The doubleheader is the only time the Maroons and Bulldogs will meet on the hardwood this season, and the winners will have a lifetime of bragging rights.
Butte High’s teams will wear their white home uniforms.
On the girls’ side, Butte High’s seniors — Natalee Faupel, Hattie Thatcher and Carlie Haeffner — are trying to be equalizers in the series with their Mining City rivals. The Maroons will try to stop that.
A Butte High (5-2) win will give the Butte High seniors a 2-2 mark against the Maroons (7-1). The Bulldogs stopped a two-game losing streak to BC last year in a big way. Faupel scored a game-high 16 points as the Bulldogs beat then-unbeaten BC 63-36.
Hailey Hoagland, who blew out her knee later in the month, scored 14 points, while Sammy McGree scored 12 and Thatcher tossed nine.
Coach Jeff Arntson’s Bulldogs return basically the same cast of characters in 2013, with Hoagland, Faupel, McGree, Thatcher and Haeffner all coming off a big game in Saturday’s win over Great Falls Russell.
Faupel averages a team-leading 13 points per game. Hoagland, a junior, averages 12.1 points per game, while classmate McGree scores 8.6. Thatcher, who scores 7.1 points per game, is the Class AA assists leader. Haeffner is returning to form after missing the first part of the season with a high-ankle sprain.
Erika McLeod, Mariah Richardson, Maria Michelotti, Andie Hogan and Ashten McCloskey have been key contributors for the Bulldogs, who have been playing without injured Bethany McLean.
Butte Central is 2-0 after the holiday break. Coach Meg Murphy’s Maroons also bring in a handful of scoring weapons to the big game.
Senior Danee Leary averages a team-leading 14.8 points per game for the balanced Maroon attack. Senior Mariah Cooney, a 6-footer who averages 8.6 rebounds per game, has also scored in double digits this season. So have classmates Danika Neumann, Alysea Pica and Hannah Stajcar.
Senior Annie Ossello is a key player for the Maroons, who routinely get solid minutes off the bench from Aleesha LaBreche, Shelby Paffhausen, Chandra McCurdy and Shawnee Hjelt.
On the boys’ side, coach Brodie Kelly’s Maroons (5-3) are going for their third straight win over the Bulldogs (2-5), who are led by first-year head coach Terry Hauser.
Brady Tippett, who is a senior this year, was the hero of last year’s 49-41 win over the Bulldogs. Tippett scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer to spark an 11-0 fourth-quarter run that gave BC control of the game.
Tippett, who shook off a short slump with 16 points in Saturday’s win at Livingston, averages 12.3 points per game to lead the Maroons. Junior Nate Bolstad scored 12.1 points per game, while classmate Kale Guldseth, who scored 21 Saturday, averages 10.3.
Connor McGree, whom Kelly credited for slowing down Livingston star Marcus Payne on Saturday, is a key contributor for the Maroons. So are Danny Peoples, Dalton Sessions and Emmett McCarthy.
The Bulldogs are coming off a lopsided loss at Great Falls Russell, but nothing seems to bring out the best in the boys in purple quite like the Maroons.
Dallas Cook, the Class AA’s top rebounder, leads the Bulldogs with 14.6 points per game. He scored 21 points in last Thursday’s win over Great Falls High. He scored 26 Dec. 13 at home against Helena Capital.
Peter Granger averages 10.9 points per game. Brian Smith, Zach Bunney and Cory Farstveet round out the Butte High starting lineup.
The doubleheader is the only action of the week for Butte High. The Maroon teams will play Corvallis — with the boys at home and the girls on the road — on Saturday.