Maroons wrap up perfect regular season

Belgrade's Shania Neubauer defends as BC junior Mollie Peoples takes the ball the hoop Thursday night at the MAC. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

Going 18-0 from start to finish in the regular basketball season is apparently a pretty good dessert to slurp.
“It feels pretty good to go 18-and-0,” Butte Central head coach Meg Murphy said with a wide smile after the Maroon girls’ basketball team polished off Belgrade 63-42 at the Maroon Activities Center Thursday evening. “Only one other Central girls’ basketball team might have done that — in 1982. And that team won the state championship.
“But now, everyone’s 0-and-0 and we have to get to work in divisionals.”
The Thursday victory came in a non-conference game and capped the BC regular season. Butte Central went 8-0 in Southwestern A Conference play and will next play in the Western A SuperDivisional tournament Wednesday through Saturday in the Butte Civic Center. The nine-team girls’ basketball field will advance four teams to the state Class A tournament next month in Belgrade.
The game also marked the last appearances for Maroon seniors Sierra Pica and Kate Ossello in the MAC.
“It’s feeling really good (to be 18-0),” Ossello, the class valedictorian, said with a big smile, adding that she will miss playing in the MAC.
She and Pica both said they never really thought of the season’s success as a possibility of being undefeated at this time of the campaign. They played one of the game, they said, almost in unison.
“It’s awesome (being undefeated),” Pica said. “It’s sad though, playing here for the last time. It’ll be less sad if we keep winning.”
Pica finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, two blocks, two steals and an assist. Pica has signed to play volleyball at Dickinson State. Ossello had a rebound and two steals in her last MAC game.
Sophomore Kloie Thatcher led BC in scoring with 17 points, including four 3-point baskets, and was backed by junior Mollie Peoples with 16 points and junior Emily St. John with 10. St. John also collected team-highs of eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in a five all-around game.
Kailee Murphy, Taylor Wahl, Megan Michelotti, Olivia Bolton, Tricia Joyce and Bella Sorini also played for Butte Central.
“The first quarter was huge for us because we have struggled in the first quarter recently,” Meg Murphy said. “It had become almost our M.O. until the Corvallis game last week. With the divisional tournament coming up, it was important that we established ourselves like that.”
After giving up a free throw to Belgrade’s Shania Neubauer, the Maroons ran off 18 straight points to take command in the first quarter. St. John scored the first seven on a pullup jumper, a driving layup and a 3-point goal. Peoples, Pica, Murphy and Thatcher all scored in the spree, which included several points off steals and other turnovers. Thatcher capped the early eruption with her first 3-pointer.
The quarter ended with BC leading by 22-5. Butte Central then outscored the Panthers 11-2 to start the second frame and there was too be no catching up for Belgrade of the Central A Conference. The Maroons built the surge mostly on inside scoring, drives and good passes. The Panthers staged a mini-rally, scoring the last nine points of the half, including a 3-pointer by Hannah Gee and two buckets Neubauer earned on a steal and a rebound.
The half ended with the core 33-16.
Coach Murphy affirmed that the BC girls were reminded at intermission they still had to play hard and not be so lackadaisical as to let the Panthers back into the contest.
However, she didn’t dwell on the lesson.
“We did a terrible job of boxing out and allowed them so many offensive rebounds,” the coach said. “In the second half, we still didn’t do a very good job of it. We can’t do that and keep winning. If we don’t box out, we’re in trouble.”
The teams played evenly in a third quarter that ended with Butte Central in control of a 48-25 margin.
Butte Central maintained its command through most of the fourth frame, then finished with a 5-0 run to ice the victory.
“Emily is really a go-getter,” coach Murphy commented. “I can’t say enough about those three guards (St. John, Peoples and Thatcher). When they want to turn up the heat, they do it. But when they get into dribble mode, they can be bad, too.
“Still, if you want to draw up and play and have them execute it, they do it.”
Sophomore Kiah Hohenstein came off the bench to score 14 points and lead the Belgrade offense. Neubauer had the next most with eight points. The Panthers finished their season with a 4-14 mark and will head into divisional play next week, as well, hunting a berth in the state tournament.
“I’m really pleased with the way we are doing things, especially defensively, right now,” coach Murphy said about the Maroons’ play as the regular season ends. “Our post play is coming along well, too, with Pica and Kailee working well together, and Megan Michelotti and the other younger kids picking it up.”

BELGRADE (4-14) — Kindall Bethke 0-3 0-2 0, Shania Neubauer 1-6 1-2 3, Skyla Neubauer 4-12 0-0 8, Hannah Gee 2-8 0-0 6, Pipi Eitel 1-2 2-2 4, Kiah Hohenstein 6-8 0-0 14, Krista Brown 3-3 1-1 7, Alexa Deming 0-0 0-0 0, Gavy Oliver 0-1 0-0 0, Ashley Sendan 0-1 0-0 0, Katie Finck 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-44 4-7 42.
BUTTE CENTRAL (18-0) — Kloie Thatcher 5-8 3-4 17, Mollie Peoples 6-12 4-4 16, Emily St. John 4-9 1-3 10, Kate Ossello 0-3 0-1 0, Sierra Pica 4-4 2-7 10, Kailee Murphy 4-7 0-0 8, Taylor Wahl 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Michelotti 0-2 0-0 0, Olivia Bolton 0-0 0-0 0, Tricia Joyce 0-1 0-0 0, Bella Sorini 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 23-47 12-21 63.
Belgrade 5 11 9 17 — 42
Butte Central 22 11 15 15 — 63
3-point goals — Belgrade 4-11 (Shania Neubauer 0-3, Gee 2-5, Hohenstein 2-3), BC 5-10 (Thatcher 4-5, Peoples 0-3, St. John 1-2). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Belgrade 17, BC 13. Technicals — none. Rebounds — Belgrade 35 (Skyla Neubauer 8), BC 31 (St. John 8). Blocks — Belgrade 3 (Eitel 2), BC 6 (Pica 2). Assists — Belgrade 8 (Bethke 2), BC 14 (St. John 6, Peoples 3, Pica 2). Steals — Belgrade 6 (Bethke 2, Skyla Neubauer 2), BC 16 (St. John 5, Thatcher 3, Peoples 2, Ossello 2, Murphy 2). Turnovers — Belgrade 21, BC 11. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Bev Johnson
    February 20, 2016, 8:56 am

    Congratulations Maroons! We are so proud of your accomplishments this whole year. Good things happen to those that work hard, and you always seem to get the job done by playing team ball. What a great bunch of girls. Best of luck at Divisional now and roll on to 1st there too.


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