Maroons survive, advance on Day 2 at State A

By Bruce Sayler

A better-clicking Butte Central team knocked the Laurel Locomotives off their tracks Friday and kept in contention for the third-place  trophy at the state Class A high school girls’ basketball tournament.

Butte Central belted Laurel 59-42 in an early afternoon loser-out game at the Butte Civic Center to bounce back from Thursday’s 55-41 disappointing first-round loss to a good Have entry. Stats

The Maroons found their offense in the first half after it went missing Thursday, then found their rhythm after halftime with a 21-8 third-quarter explosion that sent the Locomotives back to their station.

“The Friday (elimination) game is always one of the toughest to play because the team’s spirits are down after the Thursday loss and there’s no more chance to play for the title,” BC head coach Meg Murphy said. “Our kids responded really well. Our bench came in and played really well for us, and our seniors left everything on the floor.”

One senior, Corbyn Holm, had to be helped off of the floor after suffering a knee injury late in the first quarter. Murphy said Holm will be examined Monday to determine the seriousness of the injury. She suffered it when she was knocked to the floor in a collision with a Laurel player as they scrambled for a loose ball near the Locomotives’ bench. Holm grabbed her knee in pain and was to attended to for a few minutes on the court before she was helped by a trainer and police officer to the bench. Holm was later aided to the training room and returned on crutches after halftime.

“With Corbyn, that was really hard for us,” Murphy said. “She’s a kid who came out simply to help us. You just hate to see her go down. It just isn’t fair (she had to get hurt).”

Holm is an All-State catcher in softball and a volleyball star for the Maroons, and  hadn’t played basketball since her freshman year prior to joining the BC team last December. She bolstered Butte Central’s rebounding corps.

“She had softball coming up and she has signd for volleyball (at Presentation College),” Murphy said. “She came out just to help us. She’s a tough kid and you have to hope for the best for her.”

Butte Central led 15-9 after the first quarter and then went ahead for good when Olivia Bolton tore along the baseline for a scoring drive that snapped an 18-all tie. Kloie Thatcher buried a 3-point basket and then Bolton netted a pair of foul shots in a burst that propelled the Maroons to a 27-21 halftime margin.

“We had better ball movement and were taking care of the ball,” Murphy said.

Butte Central redoubled the efforts with the explosive third quarter. Defensively, the Maroons didn’t allow a field goal, and stoked its offense for a 13-0 run over a two-minute span.

Thatcher tallied seven points and dished an assist to Cassidy Strizic in the spree that took the BC lead to 44-25 from 31-25 between the 3-minute, 45-second and 1:22 marks of the third fame.

The spread was 48-29 when the fourth quarter arrived.

Butte Central maintained a comfortable advantage the rest of the way and will take a 17-7 record into the Saturday morning loser-out game. The winner will play for third place at 6:30 p.m.

“That 8 o’clock game is a tough game to play and is really emotional for whoever loses it,” Murphy said, speaking about the Friday night Belgrade-Hardin semifinal, the loser of which will face the Maroons Saturday morning. “I feel good about the way our kids are playing. If we want a big crowd here Saturday night, we need to keep winning.”

St. John finished with 20 points, Mollie Peoples with 16 and Thatcher with 11 to lead the BC offense. Thatcher also had three assists, a block and three steals, and Peoples pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Bolton wound up with six points, and Tricia Joyce, Bella Sorini and Strizic each registered two. Caleigh Mullaney, Tess Riordan, Shea Davis and Emma Keeley also played.

Butte Central shot 21-for-26 from the free throw line and made 47 percent of its field goals. The 12 steals the Maroons came up with injected more rev into the offense, too.

Laurel had only two steals.

The Locomotives finished an 11-12 season. They were led in their finale by Aspen Cotter with 14 points and Rylee Clark with nine. All of Clark’s were on 3-pointers. Paige O’Toole yanked down a team-high seven rebounds.