Maroons down Indians in ‘epic’ semifinal battle

Maroons down Indians in ‘epic’ semifinal battle
Butte Central's Braden Harrington goes to the hoop between Browning's Riley Spoonhunter, left, and Ethan Running Crane Friday night in Hamilton. (Shelly Davis photo)

HAMILTON — The name of the division might change, but some things never do.

When the Butte Central Maroons and Browning Indians meet on the basketball court, something incredible usually happens.

Friday night, it was the Maroons pulling off a thrilling 58-56 overtime victory over Browning in the semifinals of the Western A Divisional tournament in front of a packed house at the Dale Berry Court.

“It was epic,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said after the Maroons punched their ticket to the state tournament for the 13th time in his 15 years as head coach.

The Maroons and Indians, of course, had some classic clashes for the Central A Divisional title. Friday’s ranks right up there with all of them.

The win stopped Browning’s 19-game winning streak. The Maroons have handed Browning (20-2) both of its losses. The other came in the tipoff tournament in December.

“It was just an incredible game,” Kelly said. “I have nothing but respect for (Browning coach) Dan Connelly and his team and how hard they are to compete with. They are just relentless.”

The Maroons (18-4) head to the 8:30 p.m. championship game on Saturday. Browning will play Whitefish in an 11 a.m. loser-out game.

“Thank God we don’t have to play early after that game,” Kelly said.

Every time the Maroons looked to have the game put away, Browning answered.

“I can’t tell you how many times I thought we had that game won,” Kelly said.

The Maroons, though, had enough players contribute down the stretch to finally pull off the win.

After Gator Yelenich hit a big 3-poiinter, Braden Harrington made some big buckets before Luke Heaphy and Harrington hit free throws down the stretch that made Dion Mad Plume’s buzzer-beating 3-poiner at the end of overtime meaningless.

“There were so many guys who stepped up,” Kelly said, pointing to plays by Jared Simkins and Dylan Sestrich as well.

Cade Holter scored 15 points before fouling out to lead the Maroons. Harrington scored 13 points.

Yelenich finished with nine points, Sestrich scored eight points all from the free throw line, Jared Simkins scored five, Heaphy poured in three and Matt Simkins scored two.

Sestrich added nine rebounds, while Holter and Jared Simkins each grabbed eight. Harrington pulled down five.

Riley Spoonhunter scored 14 points to pace Browning. Mad Plume tossed in 11, Ethan Running Crane and Justin Burd each tossed in seven. Tyree Whitcomb scored six from the free throw line.

Note: The scoresheet sent out by tournament officials was inaccurate.

BROWNING (20-2) — Riley Spoonhunter 5 1-2 14, CJ Smith 2 0-2 4, Justin Burd 3 1-1 7, Deion Mad Plue 4 0-0 11, Tyree Whitcomb 0 6-6 6, Blayne DeRoche 0 0-0 0, Ethan Running Crane 3 0-1 7 , Derek Sharp 0 0-0 0, Brant Bremner 1 0-1 2, Latrell Bullchild 2 0-0 5.Totals 20 8-14 56.
BUTTE CENTRAL (18-4) — Luke Heaphy 0 3-4 3, Matt Simkins 1 0-0 2, Braden Harrington 4 3-5 13, Dylan Sestrich 0 8-12 8, Cade Holter 6 3-4 15, Gator Yelenich 2 4-6 9, Trevor Neumann 1 0-0 3, Jared Simkins 1 3-5 5, Aaron Richards 0 0-2 0. Totals 15 24-36 58.
Browning                   10        9          12        14        11 — 56
Butte Central             10        11        10        14        13 — 58

3-poitn goals — BC 4 (Harrington 2, Yelenich, Neumann), Browning 8 Spoonhunter 3, Mad Plume 3, Running Crane, Bullchild). Fouls — BC 15, Browning 27. Fouled out — Holter, Spoonhunter, Running Crane.

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