Maroons work double OT to hoist third-place trophy

Maroons work double OT to hoist third-place trophy
Butte Central's Cade Holter collides with Hamilton's Camron Rothie on his way to a basket Saturday night at the Four Seasons Arena. Rothie was called for a foul on the play. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

GREAT FALLS — Playing 76 minutes of high-intensity basketball might seem like a long day.

Not for Cade Holter. Not for the Butte Central Maroons.

No, the Maroons could have played all night Saturday at the Four Seasons Arena. They nearly did.

The Maroons knocked off Hamilton 54-51 in a thrilling double-overtime game to capture the third-place trophy at the Class A State boys’ basketball tournament. (Stats)

The win came a few hours after BC beat Livingston in a loser-out overtime brawl at the CMR Fieldhouse.

“It was a lot of basketball today,” Holter, a senior, said after he played his 107th and  final varsity game in a Butte Central uniform. “That’s fun. I had a great time today. I loved all the overtimes because that just extended my career a little bit. And I’m glad we came out on top through both of them. It was a fun day.”

After the game, Holter had enough energy to hold up Carter Kelly and the third-place trophy for all the fans to see. The Maroons sent Carter, the 5-year-old son of BC assistant coach Renzy Kelly, to accept the team’s first state trophy since beating Laurel to claim third place in Bozeman in 2011.

The two long wins also came after the Maroons fell just short of a comeback for the ages in a heartbreaking loss to Hardin Friday night.

“Last night it hurt, it did,” Holter said. “I was bummed for a while. Our team, we got back together. A lot of teams would have quit last night. We came back and we fought as hard as we could. We owed it to Butte Central today to come home with some hardware.”

The trophy concluded BCs 13th trip to state in 15 years under head coach Brodie Kelly.

“One thing that I thought was on full display tonight was the character and toughness of our team,” Kelly said. “I just love these kids to death.”

“It was so hard to win both games today in overtime and a double overtime. It was just phenomenal.”

The victory also gave the Maroons a 3-2 series victory over Hamilton. The teams split in the regular season. Hamilton beat BC three weeks ago in the Southwestern A District tournament in Butte. Two weeks ago, the Maroons beat the Broncs in the Western A Divisional in Hamilton.

The Maroons finish the season at 22-5, their most wins since the 1978 Maroons went 22-4 on their way to the state title. Hamilton finishes at 21-6.

“It’s two very evenly matched teams that go at it like crazy,” Kelly said of the rivalry with Hamilton, which is coached by former Butte High assistant Travis Blome. “Fun basketball to watch, fun basketball to coach and I think a lot of mutual respect between both.”

Hamilton pulled off an improbable comeback to send the game to the first overtime Saturday.

The Broncs outscored BC 7-0 over the last 1 minute, 14 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 44.

Tyler Barnes hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game. Holter got off an off-balanced 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, but it bounced off.

Luke Heaphy and Holter hit 3-pointers to make sure the game went to a second overtime. Heaphy’s pulled the Maroons to within 48-47 with 2:17 left. Holter’s tied the game at 50 with 1:27 left.

With the Hardin students, cheerleaders and fans helping cheer on the Maroons, BC didn’t trail in the second extra period, which started at 50-all.

After two scoreless possessions by both sides, Braden Harrington grabbed a rebound on an off-target Holter three for a putback and a 52-50.

Cameron Rothie drove and drew a foul. He hit one of two free throws to make it 52-51. Matt Simkins grabbed the rebound on the miss on the second free toss.

With 41 ticks left, Gator Yelenich hit two free throws to make it a 3-point lead.

The Broncs had two chances to tie the game, but both 3-pointers bounced off target. Simkins grabbed a board on one. After two free throw misses by the Maroons, who missed nine shots from the stripe after the end of the third quarter, the last Hamilton three bounced away as the buzzer sounded.

The Maroons stormed the court to celebrate the emotional win.

“It just shows what kind of kids these guys are,” Kelly said. “This game is so fickle sometimes, the ball bouncing your way or not. That was a tough one for Hamilton to lose tonight just like last night was a tough one for us to lose to Hardin. The margins are so slim when you get this level.”

Harrington scored a game-high 15 points in the victory that saw BC lead 12-11 after one quarter and 20-19 at halftime. The Maroons led 31-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

Holter tossed in 14 for BC, which saw nine players dent the score book. Trevor Neumann scored six, Jared Simkins and Dylan Sestrich each tossed in two, Heaphy finished with three, and Matt Simkins and Yelenich each scored two.

Patrick Dolan, Ryan Wahl, Thomas McGree, Egan Lester and Bryan Holland also dressed for the Maroons.

Hunter Omlid scored 14 points to lead three Broncs in double figures. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

Rothie scored 12 points, while Carson Rostad, the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year in football in 2018, added a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.

Also for Hamilton, Tanner Goligoski tossed in six, Barnes finished with five, and Trey Searle scored three.

Kelly praised his seniors following the win. Along with Holter, Sestrich and Dolan wore the BC uniform for the final time Saturday.

Sestrich bounced back from missing his entire sophomore season with an injury to be a key contributor for two seasons. Dolan had a few magical moments during the season, but most of his contributions came in practice and in the locker room.

The coach said those seniors helped set the tone for continued BC success in the future.

“We owe so much to these three seniors, Cade Holter, Dylan Sestrich and Patrick Dolan,” Kelly said. “Patrick made a tremendous impact on our team this year. He changed the culture and he made everybody so enthusiastic. I just love him.”

Holter said those feelings are mutual.

“I was really an eighth grader, and I just bought in to what Brodie Kelly had to say,” Holter said. “I love that man. I love all those coaches. It’s bigger than basketball what they’ve done for me. They helped shape me into a better man.”

Kelly is assisted by his brother Renzy, Alex Murphy, Collin Hollow and Tanner Neumann. All of them also played for the Maroons.

Holter’s 107 varsity games trails only Joe Devich, who closed his BC career with 111 games in 1947. He said all those games were for his coaches.

“Me, personally, I just wasn’t ready to quit playing basketball. I’m grateful for all 107 of them,” Holter said. “I couldn’t tell you how thankful I am to have those great men in my life. I know they’ll always be there for me. All 107 of those were for them. They took a shot on me when I was young, and I’m glad I can give all I could to them.”

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