By Bruce Sayler
Juniors Kyle Holter and Dougie Peoples celebrated Butte Central boys’ basketball Senior Parents Night by scoring 28 of the Maroons’ first 30 points Thursday night.
The output was part of a successful sendoff for BC seniors as the team wound up a home undefeated season by beating tough Frenchtown 61-50 in a Southwestern A Conference game in the Maroon Activities Center. A large crowd watched in a “Pack The MAC” promotion forwarded by the school.
Butte Central owned a 44-29 victory at Frenchtown earlier in the season, so Thursday’s victory gave the Maroons a sweep of this year’s regular-season series with the Broncs.
Holter finished with a game-high 26 points and Peoples marked 22. Both came in off-the-bench efforts as head coach Brodie Kelly started his five seniors – Bryson Sestrich, Drew Badovinac, Joseph Sehulster, George Riojas and Gage Guldseth – to honor their commitment to the program. Sestrich and Badovinac are regular starters. They were recognized, with their parents, prior to the tip-off.
“We appreciate those seniors,” Kelly said. “I’m happy for them and that they closed out this year (at home) with the win. We had a great crowd tonight, too. It was a really nice atmosphere and that was great for these guys.
“Going undefeated at home is a goal we set for ourselves every year. So, this is a great achievement. We played some great opponents in this gym every year. I’m happy to see that these seniors, this team will be able to say that they did it.”
Sestrich paid attention to Kelly’s talk in practices about the goal.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “Coach said he couldn’t remember the last (Butte Central boys’) team that went undefeated at home. There’s always that one slup-up. It’s nice that our team got to be that team that didn’t.”
Frenchtown roared ahead to a 7-0 lead to begin the game. Devin Shelton, a 6-foot-5 senior, scored on the inside off a pass from Kellen Klimpel, then Sully Belcourt drained a 3-point basket. The opening surge ended with Belcourt netting a pullup jumper.
Kelly now had subbed his usual regulars onto the floor and they steamed ahead. Holter scored 12 points in the first quarter, including BC’s first seven as the home team caught up to the visiting one. Eli Quinn, son of former Butte High and Montana Tech star Mark Quinn, notched a basket for the Broncs before Peoples connected on a 3-pointer. Frenchtown’s last lead came on a basket by 6-5 junior Connor Michaud, making the score 11-10.
It was erased for good as Holter tallied the next five points. Butte Central had a 15-14 edge after a quarter.
“Kyle shot out of his head in the first quarter,” Kelly said about Holter’s 4-for-4 from the field with a 3-pointer and going 3-for-4 on free throws in the period. “He’s been playing great recently, and great defense, too. He’s been getting his hands on everything.”
Holter finished the game with 26 points and Peoples totaled 22 as they combined for 48 of the Maroons’ 61 points.
Frenchtown, however, did pull even once before falling behind for good. A 3-pointer by Keaton Simpson tied the score at 17-all with 6 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half. Peoples drove through the key for floaters two consecutive times, breaking the tie, and Holter capped the spree with a 3-pointer. It was 24-17 in the Maroons’ favor and they held a 30-22 bulge by halftime. Peoples canned a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“We had a lot of steals on great plays,” Sestrich said, talking about the stingy BC defense igniting the offense. “Kyle Holter and Drew Badovinac were really locked down on defense.
“We wanted to start our seniors tonight and we did. They came out and gave us what we needed. Everybody contributed pretty well. They did what they needed to do to get us the win.”
Badovinac rebuffed Bronc challenges twice in the third quarter when he scored all seven of his points. His 3-pointer took the BC advantage to 10 points, 37-27. Then, he lengthened the lead with two straight steals for layups 19 seconds apart. The plays opened a 46-29 gap and Holter decorated it with a 3-pointer for a 49-33 difference going into the last quarter.
“We were a little worried about them scoring in the post and on the boards,” Kelly said, “but Joseph Sehulster played great defense and Eric Loos did a great job on the boards. Drew’s two steals and runs for baskets were huge. They gave us a lot of momentum. His corner 3, too, was huge and so was him guarding Eli one of their top players.
“Dougie does everything for us. He scores, he runs our offense. His shot at halftime was a game-changer.”
Frenchtown sank a dozen foul shots in the fourth quarter to hang around, but never really thretened Butte Central the rest of the way.
“I thought Frenchtown did a really good job against us and is a really good basketball team” Kelly said. “They’re athletic and tough and well-coached. I was impressed. We were concerned with their post play. Sehulster and Loos did great jobs, especially on defense, and were able to get some help from others on the back side. It was pretty typical of whenever we play Frenchtown – challenged both ways with man-to-man and in the half-court, tough to get clean looks.”
The turnover margin was significant with Butte Central pressuring Frenchtown into committing 24 while the Maroons were guilty of just 11.
Sestrich agreed the Broncs proved to be worthy adversaries.
“They’re big,” he said. “They have 6-5 dudes and we don’t, but pretty close. I think we did a good job against them, collectively. They’re physical and playing well – they beat Polson recently — and we knew it would be a tough game. I thought the fouls went both ways, and we had to find a way to get through it, the tough parts, and win the game.”
All of Butte Central’s games this year have been decided by 11 points or more.
Loos finished with four points and Jack Keeley with two. Zane Moodry also played as Butte Central raised its season record to 14-1, 9-1 in conference games. The Maroons will play a non-conference game at Livingston on Saturday with the start scheduled for 4 p.m.
Frenchtown, now 9-4 and 6-4, was led by Belcourt with 16 points and Quinn with nine.
FRENCHTOWN (9-4, 6-4) — Kellen Klimpel 1-7 0-0 2, Sully Belcourt 4-7 6-8 16, Devin Shelton 2-4 3-4 7, Connor Michaud 2-4 2-3 6, Eli Quinn 3-9 1-2 9, Keaton Simpson 1-3 4-4 6, Jeremy Velasquez 0-1 1-2 1, Garrett Schmill 0-1 0-0 0, Kamas Romney 1=1 0-0 3, Joshua Lucier 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Adams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-37, 17-23 50.
BUTTE CENTRAL (14-1, 9-1) — Bryson Sestrich 0-4 0-0 0, Drew Badovinac 3-3 0-0 7, Joseph Sehulster 0-0 0-0 0, George Riojas 0-1 0-0 0, Gage Guldseth 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Loos 1-5 2-2 4, Kyle Holter 8-16 7-11 26, Dougie Peoples 6-16 7-8 22, Jack Keeley 1-1 0-0 2, Zane Moodry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-47 16-21 61.
Frenchtown 14 8 11 17 — 50
Butte Central 15 15 19 12 — 61
3-point goals – Frenchtown 5-18 (Klimpel 0-3, Belcourt 2-3, Shelton 0-1, Michaud 0-1, Quinn 2-6, Simpson 0-2, Velasquez 0-1, Romney 1-1), Butte Central 7-14 (Sestrich 0-2, Badovinac 1-1, Loos 0-1, Holter 3-4, Peoples 3-6). Fouled out – Klimpel, Badovinac, Loos. Total fouls – Frenchtown 20, Butte Central 21. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Frenchtown 30 (Michaud 5, Quinn 5, Simpson 5), Butte Central 28 (Loos 7, Peoples 7). Blocks – Frenchtown 4 (Michaud 3), Butte Central 0. Assists – Frenchtown 10 (Quinn 2, Shelton 2), Butte Central 10 (Loos 3, Sestrich 2, Badovinac 2, Peoples 2). Steals – Frenchtown 4 (Shelton 2), Butte Central 13 (Badovinac 3, Holter 3). Turnovers – Frenchtown 24, Butte Central 11.