By Bill Foley
DILLON — She has the temperament of a cold-blooded assassin on the basketball court.
Now, Brooke Badovinac has shot her name into the Mining City record book.
The Butte Central junior became the sixth high school player in Butte to score 500 points in a season Saturday, and the Maroons captured third place at the Southwestern A District tournament with a 39-25 win over Stevensville.
Thew win, which was played at the B.W. Lodge Gymnasium, came after the Maroons survived a must-win game with a 54-32 victory over Frenchtown.
Badovinac said she had no idea she was on the verge of history as the Maroons put their season on the line.
“I didn’t know that,” she said of joining Butte’s 500-point Club. “That’s cool.”
The remarkable thing about Badovinac’s accomplishment is how quiet and easy the points seem to come to her — even though she is the clear focus of every team.
She faced a box-in-one defense against the Yellowjackets.
“She has a great shooting percentage,” said Butte Central interim coach Quinn (Peoples) Carter. “She doesn’t overshoot the ball.”
In the regular season, Badovinac shot 48 percent from the field.
Carter, who was filling in for an ill Meg Muprhy for the final BC game of the tournament, is a member of the 400-point Club. She scored 401 points to lead the Maroons to the 2011 Class A State title.
She said her and the BC coaches are often blown away by the number of points that Badovinac has scored when they look at the game book.
“We say, ‘She had 28 points? Or 25 points?” Carter said. “A lot of the times, you don’t realize what Brooke does, what she brings to the table for our team. I can’t give her enough credit for the way she composes herself because she’s getting guarded. They face guarded her like crazy, and she does a really good job handling the pressure.”
In 22 games this season, Badovinac has scored at least 20 points 18 times. She scored at least 30 points four times, including a 35-point performance against Corvallis. That tied Julie (Leary) Nadeau for the team record against Class A competition.
Carter, though, points to her season-low 12 points against Butte High on Dec. 23 as maybe the key.
“They guarded the heck out of her,” the coach said of the Bulldogs. “That was probably the best thing to happen to Brooke. She learned a lot about herself, and she has been strong.”
Badovinac said she is simply taking what she is given.
“I just let the game come to me,” she said. “I’ve got to get my teammates the ball. When they get me the ball, too, and I’m open, that’s when I get my points.”
Her 13 points against the Yellowjackets in the third-place game was her second-lowest this season. It came hours after she scored 21 points in the morning loser-out game.
“Saturday games, the loser-out games, are really the toughest games,” Badovinac said. “We just came out and gave it our all.”
Like with the early game, the Maroons left little doubt against the Yellowjackets.
After leading 10-5 at the end of the first quarter, the Maroons opened the second with a 16-3 run to take control.
Central led 27-12 at halftime and 31-16 after both tired teams mustered just four points in the third.
After missing four shots to open the fourth — including a 3-poitner — Badovinac hit a jumper in the paint with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left for her 500th point. Seconds later, she made it 502.
“I didn’t know what I was actually capable of doing,” Badovinac said of a season that came after she averaged about 10 points per game as BC’s sixth player. “It’s just cool to be here with my friends and my family.”
Senior Sofee Thatcher scored nine points for the Maroons (14-8), who made it through the tournament with just seven players — thanks to injury and sickness. Ella Moodry scored eight, Brenna Foley tossed in four, Mollie Drew netted three, and Maycee Anderson scored two.
Payton Hartwick also contributed for the Maroons, who will open the Western A Divisional tournament at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Hamilton against Browning.
Junior Claire Hutchison scored 10 points to lead the Yellowjackets (7-15), who will be the No. 4 seed at the divisional tournament. Shilo Lampi scored five, while Hailey Thomas and Cambree Praast each tossed in three.
The divisional tournament will give Badovinac a chance to move up Butte’s all-time single-season scoring list.
Other members of the 500-point Club are Central’s Joe Antonietti (638 points in 1969), Butte High’s Lexie Nelson (574 in 2010), Central’s Mike Judd (562 in 1966), Central’s John Sullivan (536 in 1986) and BC’s “Jumpin’” Joe Kelly (518 in 1944).
Butte Central junior Dougie Peoples could also join the club this season. He has 442 points heading into Saturday’s boys’ championship game against Dillon.
For now, Badovinac is focused on getting some rest before heading to divisionals.
“It’s been a long, exhausting weekend,” Badovinac said. “We’re happy with third place, and we’re excited to go to Divisionals and see what we can do there.
“I’m just proud of how far our team has come.”
STEVENSVILLE (7-15) — Hailey Thomas 1 1-2 3, Kelti Wandler 0 0-0 0, Dawsyn Brewer 0 0-0 0, Shilo Lampi 0 5-8 5, Claire Hutchison 4 2-3 10, Maddy Davids 0 0-2 0, Olivia Grey 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 9-14 25.
BUTTE CENTRAL (14-8) — Brenna Foley 2 0-0 4, Payton Hartwick 0 0-0 0, Sofee Thatcher 2 5-6 9, Brooke Badovinac 5 3-4 9, Ella Moodry 3 2-4 8, Mollie Drew 1 1-2 3, Maycee Anderson 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 13-18 39.
Stevensville 5 7 4 9 — 25
Butte Central 10 17 4 8 — 39
3-point goals — Stevi 0, BC 0. Fouls — Stevi 16, BC 14. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.