Maroons reach State A semis, pull away from Glendive

By Bruce Sayler

The restart wound up working a little better for Butte Central Thursday morning as the Maroons snared a 56-42 win in the first round of the state Class A high school boys’ basketball tournament at the Butte Civic Center.
They barely trailed Glendive at any time, but some anxious moments welled in the hearts of the BC faithful. Still, the win was much more than just survival at the Butte Central team is headed to the state semifinals for the third straight year and fifth time in six years, including the 2022 state Class A championship. The Maroons will play defending state champion Lewistown at 3:30 in Friday’s semifinals. BC defeated Lewistown for the 2022 crown.
Twentieth-year head coach Brodie Kelly has been the architect of BC’s recent run of success. He liked the foundation in Thursday’s win, but maybe not so much early application. Star senior Jack Keeley was in agreement.
“The start of the game was a good start for us,” Kelly said in the locker room after the contest. “Then, we missed a couple of shots (and the offense struggled). In the third quarter, I think just the flow and rhythm was the difference for us.”
Glendive had actually taken a 25-24 lead by halftime. However, the Red Devils were held to 17 points total in the second half. The Maroons didn’t exactly catch fire on offense, but they put the ball through the hoop often enough to build a safe lead and win.
“We had to get the jitters out of the way in the first half,” Keeley, who scored 14 points and was one of three BC scorers in double figures, said. “We didn’t have a great second half, either. But, we locked down on defense in the third quarter.”
Butte Central outscored Glendive 17-3 in the third quarter to command a 41-28 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Maroons went 8-for-12 at the free throw line in the last period while outdistancing the Red Devils.
“We dd not play a great game,” Kelly said. “The first game, after two weeks off, we didn’t know what to expect. Usually, it’s been our defense (BC has relied upon), but I’ve felt our offense had been good this year. “
Sophomore Ryan Peoples’ 3-pointer helped fire Butte Central to an early 13-2 lead while Keeley worked Glendive over around the key. The Red Devils, though, came to life with consecutive inside baskets by Cyrel Eaton and Levi Eaton and the quarter ended with the Maroons ahead, 13-6.
Turovers and a tight defense by the big, burly Glendive squad slowed the BC attack and the Red Devils caught up on a foul shot by Kohbe Smith for a 23-all tie with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in the half. A freebie by Zane Moodry gave Butte Central one more edge before intermission, but it was erased by Chase Crockett’s driving basket and Glendive had its narrow halftime advantage.
“We watched them on film, but you don’t really know until you play,” Keeley said while agreeing the Glendive size was formidable to a smallish team that has battled such disadvantages its whole schedule this season. “They’re big, but they’re good, too. Deep. They had six guys scoring five to seven points, which is usually unheard of.”
The halftime edge was the Red Devils’ last.
Freshman Joshua Sutton drilled a 3-pointer for the Maroons, scoring the first points of he second half and giving his team a 27-25 advantage. Owen McPartland netted two charity tosses and sixth-man freshman Parker Robertson brought a roar from the crowd with an acrobatic scoop shot on a determined drive to the hoop.
It wasn’t Robertson’s only unorthodox play that helped BC.
“I love that kid,” Kelly said. “He made some big shots and guarded a good kid on their end. The kid’s a winner.”
After a free throw by Ethan Rivas for Glendive, Butte Central continued on its roll with another Peoples 3-pointer, fast-break basket by Moodry off a Keeley pass, two foul shots made by Keeley and a McPartland 3-ball. It was a 17-1 imbalance until Glendive got the last two points of the frame on Crockett charity tosses.
Keeley rolled an ankle with 4:03 left in the game, but returned to play two minutes later and insisted after the game that “it’s fine,” indicating he plans on playing against Lewistown.
Lewistown beat Dillon for last year’s title while Butte Central finished third after a semifinal-round loss to Dillon in the 2023 tourney.
Glendive will play Columbia Falls in Friday’s 9 a.m. loser-out game. Lewistown defeated Columbia Falls 62-49 in Thursday’s other morning first-round game.
McParland finished with 15 points to lead the Maroons on Thursday. Sutton’s 12 followed Keeley’s 14 in the totals. Peoples and Robertson had six apiece, and Moodry finished with three. Patrick Stimatz, GG Fantini, Coy Campbell and Justus McGee also played. The Maroons outrebounded the Red Devils 29-26 with Keeley pulling down 13. He also dealt four assists.
Rivas led Glendive with 11 points.
GLENDIVE (9-14) – Kohbe Smith 1-2 1-1 3, Chase Crockett 1-4 4-4 6, Carter Amsler 2-11 4-4 8, Shann McPherson 0-3 0-4 0, Riley Phipps 1-4 0-0 2, Aiden Cayko-Zody 0-1 0-1 0, Ethan Rivas 3-6 4-5 11, Dylan Jolliffe 0-2 0-0 0, Cyrel Eaton 3-6 2-2 8, Teagan Wahl 0-0 0-0 0, Levi Eaton 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 13-46 15-20 42.
BUTTE CENTRAL (18-4) — Joshua Sutton 4-8 3-4 12, Ryan Peoples 2-5 0-0 6, Jack Keeley 4-9 5-6 14, Owen McPartland 3-8 7-8 15, Zane Moodry 1-2 1-4 3, Parker Robertson 2-3 1-2 6, Patrick Stimatz 0-1 0-0 0, GG Fantini 0-1 0-0 0, Coy Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Justus McGee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 17-24 56.
Glendive 6 19 3 14 – 42
Butte Central 13 11 17 15 – 56
3-point goals – Glendive 1-15 (Smith 0-1, Amsler 0-6, McPherson 0-1, Phipps 0-1, Cayko-Zody 0-1, Rivas 1-2, Jolliffe 0-2, L. Eaton 0-1), Butte Central 7-20 (Sutton 1-3, Peoples 2-5, Keeley 1-3, McPartland 2-6, Stimatz 0-1, Fantini 0-1, Robertson 1-1). Fouled out – C. Eaton, Robertson. Total fouls – Glendive 21, Butte Central 15. Technicals – none. Rebounds – Glendive 26 (Crockett 5), Butte Central 29 (Keeley 13, McPartland 5, Moodry 5). Blocks – Glendive 1 (C. Eaton), Butte Central 0. Assists – Glendive 3 (Amsler 2), Butte Central 7 (Keeley 4, Robertson 2). Steals – Glendive 7 (Crockett 2), Butte Central 8 (Keeley 3, Moodry 2, Robertson 2). Turnovers – Glendive 12, Butte Central 16.