By Bruce Sayler
The defense was the focal point for Butte Central, head coach Brodie Kelly said, and the winning points fell in as a result.
The Maroons beat neighborhood rival Anaconda 62-27 in a non-conference high school boys’ basketball game Tuesday evening in the Maroon Activities Center (MAC).
It was big night for BC senior Patrick Dolan and a showcase for the team as it stayed undefeated with the wide victory margin over the Class B Copperheads.
Butte Central shot out to a 9-0 command to start the game as Gator Yelenich ripped the seal off the contest with a 3-point basket 26 seconds after the tip-off. Cade Holter followed with a 3 of his own and then Yelenich sank a free throw before Aaron Richards capped the game-opening run with an inside basket.
Holter finished with a game-high 18 points, all in the first half.
The quarter ended with the Maroons ahead by 19-8 and they blew it open to 38-12 by halftime. The second-period explosion included a 16-0 run that featured four steal-and-layup plays on defense. Holter snagged three of them in a row and the spree began with one by Matt Simkins. The other buckets in the run were a 3-pointer by Braden Harrington, a layup by Jared Simkins off a Holter pass and the first of Dolan’s four treys.
Dolan, a seldom-used senior, tallied 12 points in his off-the-bench starring role for the night. Teammates couldn’t pass him the ball fast enough.
“I’m really happy for Patrick, him getting his minutes,” Kelly said. “Patrick earned it. He loves the game, he spends a lot of time in the gym and he’s a good shooter, which everyone saw, tonight. His teammates are happy for him, too.”
Dolan was 4-for-8 from 3-point range, and also dealt two assists and made two steals.
“It felt great,” he said later while sporting a smile threatening permanency. “It was outstanding.”
He admitted to shooting a lot of 3s in practice and acknowledged with a grin that his big performance marked career-highs for both points scored and minutes played. This season is his fourth in the program.
“It really does make it worth it,” he said, his eyes dancing as he tried to absorb the moment. “I’ve been in basketball all four years, going to every practice. It pays off. It really does.”
After holding the 38-12 lead, Butte Central outscored Anaconda 10-3 to begin the second half and eventually took a 48-17 cushion into the second half. Richards hit a 3-pointer from a Holter pass to start the third quarter and Kyler Gochanaur responded in kind for the Copperheads.The Maroons then surged until Peyton Klanecky netted a short jumper for Anaconda just before the buzzer
Kelly emptied his bench for a large portion of the fourth quarter as the BC players maintained command.
“Our first-half defense was pretty good,” he said. “We were concerned with being disciplined on defense and keeping our fundamentals right more than we were the score. It was a weird game, I thought, in that it was a relaxed (pace).”
“Sometimes, when you get a big lead, you get sloppy. So, it was nice that the guys maintained discipline.”
Butte Central committed no turnovers in the first half and only four in the second half. The Maroons forced Anaconda into 24 turnovers, 18 of which were BC steals.
“That was really good,” Kelly said about the turnover-free first half and lauded the efforts of Holter, and twins Jared and Matt Simkins in causing steals.
“Defensively, they did nice jobs getting a hand on the basketball,” the coach said, “and creating transition opportunities.”
Butte Central scored five baskets on steal-and-layup combinations, four of them by Holter.
The Maroons raised their record to 9-0 with the win. Harrington finished with eight points, and Yelenich and Jared Simkins had six each to back the scoring of Holter and Dolan. Richards had five points, Dylan Sestrich three, and Matt Simkins and Bryan Holland two apiece. Junior point guard Luke Heaphy dished out six assists. Trevor Neumann, Egan Lester, Thomas McGree and Ryan Wahl also played.
Anaconda fell to 1-8. The Copperheads were led by Dylan Smith and Michael Galle with nine points apiece. Gochanaur finished with seven points and Klanecky with two. Braedon Sawyer, Eli Saltenberger, Trey Henrikson, Leroy Wilson and Landon Hurley also saw game time.
Butte Central will play at Corvallis on Saturday in a return to Southwestern A Conference play. Anaconda will be home on Friday against Missoula Loyola in a Western B Conference counter
ANACONDA (1-8) — Braedon Sawyer 0-6 0-0 0, Dylan Smith 3-3 0-0 9, Eli Saltenberger 0-3 0-0 0, Michael Galle 3-6 2-2 9, Trey Henrikson 0-0 0-0 0, Leroy Wilson 0-4 0-0 0, Kyler Gochanour 3-4 0-0 7, Peyton Klanecky 1-2 0-0 2, Landon Hurley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-28 2-2 27.
BUTTE CENTRAL (9-0) — Luke Heaphy 0-1 0-0 0, Braden Harrington 3-7 1-1 8, Gator Yelenich 1-3 3-4 6, Cade Holter 8-10 0-0 18, Aaron Richards 2-3 0-0 5, Dylan Sestrich 1-4 1-2 3, Jared Simkins 2-3 2-2 6, Trevor Neumann 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Simkins 1-1 0-0 2, Patrick Dolan 4-8 0-2 12, Bryan Holland 1-1 0-0 2, Egan Lester 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas McGree 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Wahl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-42 7-11 62.
Anaconda 8 4 5 10 — 27
Butte Central 19 19 10 14 — 62
3-point goals — Anaconda 5-18 (Sawyer 0-4, Smith 3-6, Saltenberger 0-1, Galle 1-3, Wilson 0-1, Gochanour 1-2, Klanecky 0-1), BC 9-22 (Heaphy 0-1, Harrington 1-4, Yelenich 1-2, Holter 2-2, Richards 1-2, Sestrich 0-2, Dolan 4-8, Lester 0-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Anaconda 9, BC 7. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Anaconda 23 (Sawyer 4, Gochanour 4), BC 18 (Harrington 3, Richards 3). Blocks — Anaconda 0, BC 3 (Richards 1, M. Simkins 1, Sestrich 1). Assists — Anaconda 1 (Gochanour), BC 17 (Heaphy 6, Holter 3). Steals — Anaconda 2 (Gochanour 2), BC 18 (Holter 7, Richards 3). Turnovers — Anaconda 24, BC 4.