By Derek Hendrickson
The Butte Central Maroons showed their prowess on both sides of the ball Saturday afternoon, dominating on defense in the first half and then unleashing a potent offense in the second on their way to a 66-43 Southwestern Conference win over the Hamilton Broncs.
Central held the Broncs to just 11 points in the first half, outscoring them by 12 in the first two quarters and then showed they could also play at a more frenetic pace in the second, putting up 43 points in the final two stanzas and outpacing Hamilton by 11 more in the second half.
Maroon head coach Brodie Kelly talked about the contrasting halves shortly after the game.
“First half defense was outstanding, we contested everything,” he said. “First half offense wasn’t that bad I didn’t think, it wasn’t as aggressive in the first half as we were in the second half. They hit on 6 out of 7 possessions in the third but we dug in and got some stops in the fourth.”
Nate Bolstad led all scorers with 18 points, which certainly could have been more as he watched some of the younger backup players get some run in the fourth. He put in 13 of those in before the break, tallying well over half of the Maroons’ first half points.
Bolstad spoke about his simple formula for success in the moments following the game. “My teammates were helping me out, gotta give all the credit to them, I was being confident,” he said.
In the second half Marcus Ferriter picked up the slack, scoring 10 of his 14, including a perfect 6 for 6 at the charity stripe to help salt away Central’s third straight win. Ferriter was his usual presence on the glass as well, snatching a game high 8 rebounds to help the Maroons outboard Hamilton 23-19 and adding an emphatic fourth quarter blocked shot.
Ferriter talked about his approach after the win. “I just kept going hard, I wanted to be aggressive and I got fouled a lot and made all my free throws,” he said. “We played good defense the first half, the second it was more of an offensive show. A lot of people stepped up, Nate, Dalton, Kale, everyone did.”
Senior point guard Kale Guldseth found himself in early foul trouble, picking up two in the first few minutes of the game, but sophomore Cal Hollow had his most effective game of the season,scoring 4 points and dishing out 5 assists, most of which were perfect passes to wide open 3-point shooters. The Maroons drilled nine triples for the game with Bolstad hitting four, Danny Peoples nailing three and Chad Peterson adding two.
Hollow discussed sticking the game plan and the effective results shortly after the final buzzer. “He (coach Kelly) stressed being aggressive and not forcing so I just tried to penetrate and see what was open and I found Danny a few times for the three, I just try to play relaxed and hope for the best, I found some open guys and they just finished so that was good,” he said.
Guldseth got into the flow with the rest of his team in the second half, scoring all 6 of his points and handing out three assists of his own. In all the Maroons assisted on 13 of their 20 field goals, frequently setting each other up for wide open shots both inside and outside.
Coach Kelly praised his team’s other-centered style of play.
“These guys are always unselfish guys and guys getting in the right spots with the basketball to be open for an assist,” he said. “We got some inside touches the second half. Dalton did a good job and it’s good to see Danny knock down some threes. I thought we had pretty good balance.”
The Maroons were without senior Dylan Goodell, who sprained his ankle earlier this week at practice when he landed on another player’s foot. After the game he said that he would likely be out Thursday night for the rematch with Dillon but was hopeful he could return for Saturday’s trip to Park County.
Peoples finished with nine points, all on his hot shooting from beyond the arc and junior Swiss army knife Dalton Sessions added seven as well as grabbing three rebounds. Seniors Connor McGree was his usual unsung self in the scorebook but logged strong defensive minutes. The big cushion allowed senior Junlin Liu and sophomore Cole Harper to get some playing time in the fourth.
Hamilton had their best quarter of the eight they played against Central this season in the third, putting up 22 and going toe to toe with the Maroons. Unfortunately they gave up 26 as Central hit four of their threes in the frame. Overall junior Ty Burt led the Broncs with 13 points. Senior post Josh Bauder had a strong second half, scoring all 8 of his points in the paint over the final two quarters. Sophomores Josh Heath and Bret Huxtable contributed as well, scoring five and seven points respectively and giving the Bronc fans something to look forward to over the next few years.
With the win the Maroons improved to 12-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference. Hamilton slipped to 2-10 and 0-5.
The Maroons will return home Thursday night for a rematch with the top ranked Dillon Beavers, who knocked off Anaconda earlier this week. The number one seed of the Southerwestern Conference hangs in the balance and it’s very possible this could only be the second of 3 or 4 meetings between two of the top teams in class A.
Each of the Maroons interviewed after the game stressed the importance of preparation this week prior to the clash of Southwestern A titans.
Coach Kelly said, “Our guys know it’s a huge game for us and we don’t very good about how we played down there, they beat us handily. Hopefully we’ll have a good week of practice and be ready.”
Ferriter echoed his coach, saying “We’re really excited, we are getting really prepared for them, we just want to get the win and get ready for them again in divisionals.”
Hollow had similar sentiments.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “I think we just need a great week of practice and not be scared this time. We been practicing that zone so that press breaker will be huge, so we’ll have a good week of practice and go get ’em.”
Bolstad talked about having a different attitude heading into round two, saying “We just gotta be ready, last time I just don’t think we ready enough for it, this time we are preparing all the time, haven’t forgot about it, we’re gonna have a chip on our shoulder that’s for sure.”
All buttesports.com readers are strongly encouraged to make it to the MAC Thursday as this will certainly be one of the biggest regular season games all year, featuring several likely All-State players and two teams who will be competing for trophies next month in Great Falls at the state tournament.
Josh Heath 2 0-0 5, Kris Cleveland 1 1-2 3, Ty Burt 4 2-2 13, Teague Blome 1 2-4 4, Bret Huxtable 2 2-2 7, Kameron Kohn 1 1-2 3, Josh Bauder 4 0-0 8 Totals 15 8-12 43.
BUTTE CENTRAL (12-2)
Cal Hollow 0 4-4 4, Kale Guldseth 2 2-2 6, Danny Peoples 3 0-0 9, Cole Harper 0 0-0 0, Connor McGree 0 0-0 0, Chad Peterson 2 2-2 8, Dalton Sessions 2 3-5 7, Junlin Liu 0 0-0 0, Marcus Ferriter 4 6-6 14, Nate Bolstad 7 0-1 18
Totals 20 17-20 66.
Hamilton 5 6 22 10 — 43
Central 12 11 26 17 — 66
3-point goals-Hamilton 5 (Burt 3, Heath, Huxtable) Butte Central 9 (Bolstad 4, Peoples 3, Peterson 2), Rebounds-Hamilton 19 (Kohn 4), Butte Central 23 (Ferriter 8, Bolstad 6), Assists Hamilton 5 (Heath 2), Butte Central 13 (Hollow 5, Guldseth 3), Blocks-Hamilton 2 (Huxtable 2), Butte Central 1 (Ferriter), Turnovers-Hamilton 13, Butte Central 9, Total Fouls-Hamilton 17, Butte Central 13, Fouled Out-None, Technicals-None.