STEVENSVILLE — The Butte Central Maroons knocked off the defending state A champion Stevensville Yellowjackets for the second time this season, 49-45, in a hard-fought game Saturday afternoon.
The back and forth contest never saw either team lead by more than six points, which was the 40-34 cushion the Yellowjackets held early in the final period. The Maroons battled back with a key 8-0 run that saw senior point guard Kale Guldseth connect on both of his three point field goals which set up a nail biting finish.
The Maroons had several chances to build on their led late, but missed on 5 of 6 free throws to start the fourth. Despite being given repeated opportunities Stevensville could not break through the Central defense. The Yellowjackets had one final chance down 47-45 with ten seconds left. Senior point guard Jared Schultz was double teamed but found junior Jace Omlid for a contested three pointer that was well short and Nate Bolstad snagged his ninth rebound. Bolstad was immediately fouled with 0.6 seconds left and finally gave the Maroons a two possession lead by hitting both foul shots for the final margin.
Bolstad returned to the leading the Maroons in scoring Saturday after being held to just 5 points Thursday night in Helena. He talked about his troubles from that game and the mindset he had today, “our last game we lacked in toughness and I had a terrible game and I felt like I needed to be more mentally tough. I told myself before the game I wanted to go out and do work. Kale had a great game. We had to get back on our defense, that was our main focus, stop Schultz and stay under our 48 mark.”
“That’s a classic Butte Central Stevi game,” Butte Central head coach Brodie Kelly said in the locker room after the win. “I was really happy with the way our guys responded defensively after Thursday night to play the way we did, especially down the stretch. It seemed like they had probably 12 possessions that could have tied the game late. Every time it was a three point lead we missed shots, I thought we had good looks a number of times, missed them and missed free throws, we just couldn’t get it to two possessions. I think we had about 12 stops in a row when it was a one possession game.”
Much like the first game in Butte just before the Christmas break, this game could have gone either way. In that contest Central built a lead only to watch the Yellowjackets battle back. This time Stevensville was without the services of a key cog on their championship run last year as junior Jesse Sims transferred to Corvallis. His absence had no impact on the intensity, however.
The first half was just as hotly contested as the second. The Yellowjackets took the lead after one, 13-12, with 11 of their points coming from inside via their strong post game. The Maroons returned the favor in the second to send the game to the break tied at 21. Central scored seven of its nine points in the quarter on second chance points, including two put back buckets by junior Dalton Sessions.
The third quarter belonged to the two senior captains for Stevensville as future Montana Tech Oredigger football player Zach Gavlak and Schultz poured in all of the Yellowjackets 18 points. Schultz was unguardable as he accounted for 14 himself, including four triples that seemed to come from farther back each time. The highlight reel shooting gave Stevensville a 39-34 lead heading to the fourth.
Chance Coleman hit a free throw to give Stevensville their largest lead seconds into the fourth but then Guldseth went to work. He put up nine points in the fourth and clamped down defensively on Schultz, who managed only two in the decisive quarter.
Guldseth had high praise for Schultz.
“He is a great player, I try to contain him, make it tough on him, contest his jump shot, when he is hitting from deep like that it’s tough to stop him,” Guldseth said. “He is so quick and a great finisher, you just gotta contest everything he does.”
Guldseth also talked about the game overall.
“It was a team effort I feel like, getting stops was the main thing, giving up 45 points to a team like Stevensville,” he said. “The last few weeks our defense hasn’t been great, tonight getting stops when we needed to and making shots and getting out of here with a win, because this is a hostile envrionment. It’s reassuring to see that we can get stops when we need to and make plays.”
That reassurance is something the Maroons definitely needed after a shaky defensive performance in Helena Thursday night. Kelly spoke about the significance of this type of tight game in regards to the stretch run, “we talked about the importance of defense yesterday at practice, so that was a good sign because those are the types of games you need to win at tournament time.”
Butte Central saw strong contributions from several players, including Marcus Ferriter who had mome points on the night, four of which came in the fourth, Sessions finished with seven, Chad Peterson added six and Cal Hollow had two.
Senior Connor McGree’s only official contribution to the scorebook was a fourth quarter foul, but he played the majority of the game on Gavlak and was a big reason the Yellowjackets could only muster 45 points. Dylan Goodell and Danny Peoples also logged quality minutes in the win.
Gavlak put up the same stat line as he did earlier this year in Butte, 11 points and five fouls. Coleman and Omlid both added 5 for Stevensville, who fell to 5-6 and 2-3 in conference.
The Maroons improved to 10-2 overall, and 5-1 in the Southwestern Conference. The win moves them closer to locking up one of the two top seeds for the divisional tournament which would give them a first round bye. They will return home to the MAC on Thursday evening when they will play host the Belgrade Panthers who gave Central all they could handle earlier this year in Belgrade, a game the Maroons held on to win 42-40 after leading by ten in the second half.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-2, 5-1)
Cal Hollow 1 0-0 2, Kale Guldseth 4 1-5 11, Chad Petersen 2 1-1 6, Dalton Sessions 3 1-3 7, Marcus Ferriter 4 1-1 9, Nate Bolstad 4 4-4 14.
STEVENSVILLE (5-6, 2-3)
Chris Lords 0 1-2 1, Chris Bergman 1 0-1 2, Jace Omlid 2 0-0 5, Chance Coleman 2 1-2 5, Zach Gavlak 5 1-3 11, Jared Schultz 6 2-5 18, Bryce Torrey 1 1-1 3.
Central 12 9 13 15 – 49
Stevensville 13 8 18 6 – 45
No other stats available.