By Bruce Sayler
BELGRADE — Butte Central would’ve liked to have stuffed its first quarter in a jar and put it on a shelf. If so, the Maroons would’ve had a boys’ basketball win over Belgrade Tuesday night.
However, rules insisted the remaining three quarters be played and the Panthers pulled out a 47-40 Class A non-conference win over Butte Central in the Belgrade Special Events Center. The comeback wiped out a Maroons lead that had reached 15-6 and stood at 15-9 after one quarter.
“We started the game out really well,” BC head coach Brodie Kelly said. “We executed well against their zone. Then, we got stagnant at times. We needed some help to knock down shots.”
Luke Heaphy’s seven points in the first quarter sparked Butte Central early. Belgrade chipped away and caught up at the close of the first half on s basket by Andrew Tofslie. The bucket knotted the score at 20-all at halftime.
A buzzer-beating long 3-pointer by Easton Page gave the Panthers the 32-30 edge after three periods, but they didn’t nab the lead for good until a 10-0 run in the fourth. Two inside baskets by Aaron Richards for BC had tied the score 32-all after a two-point tally by Page in the first minute of the last quarter.
Belgrade then found the free throw line friendly. Noel Reynolds caged two free throws and Austin Edwards canned two more.
“The difference in the game tonight was that they hustled,” Kelly said of the Panthers. “They owned almost every loose ball. And, on the offensive glass, we didn’t block out very well. Every time we had a chance for a momentum play, they came up with the ball.”
One rebound saw Edwards snare the ball as he was losing his balance toward the end line. He flipped the ball to Dawson Fowler before tumbling out of bounds and Fowler went coast-to-coast for a layup,
The play increased the Belgrade lead to 40-34 and then Spencer Gordon connected for the last two points in the key spree. The clock showed 2 ½ minutes left in the game.
Fowler netted three of four charity tosses in the last 1:03 and Belgrade secured the win.
“We have to work on a lot of things,” Kelly said. “Boxing out has been a chronic problem for us all season. I thought we did a better job taking care of the ball but I didn’t think we were very good at a lot of things.
“It was a tough shooting night.”
The Maroons lost leading scorer Dan McCloskey this week when he transferred to Butte High, sources said. Kelly verified the junior guard is gone from the team.
The loss was BC’s second in a row and third for the season. Kelly pointed to the recent schedule of quite formidable opponents.
“We have played three games in five days against good teams,” he said. “I thought Cade (Holter) did a good job on Fowler (Belgrade’s leading scorer) tonight. There are a lot of things, though, we need to do better.”
The Maroons are 10-3 this season and will return to Southwestern A Conference play on Saturday with a home game against Hamilton. Heaphy and Richards led the team in scoring Tuesday night with 10 points apiece. Matt Simkins scored eight points and yanked down seven rebounds. Holter finished with five points, Braden Harrington scored four and Jared Simkins put in three. Dylan Sestrich and Trevor Neumann also played.
Belgrade went to 8-4 for the season and avenged a 57-36 loss it suffered versus BC in the Maroon Activities Center last month. The Panther win was led by Fowler with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Page with 12 points.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-3) — Luke Heaphy 4-12 0-0 10, Matt Simkins 4-7 0-0 8, Dylan Sestrich 0-6 0-0 0, Cade Holter 2-3 0-0 5, Aaron Richards 5-7 0-0 10, Jared Simkins 0-3 3-4 3, Braden Harrington 1-3 1-2 4, Trevor Neumann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-41 4-6 40.
BELGRADE (8-4) — Dawson Fowler 5-15 4-5 14, Easton Page 4-10 3-4 12, Noel Reynolds 2-4 2-2 6, MattWalker 0-2 0-0 0, Austin Edwards 2-3 2-2 6, Jake Klonsinski 0-2 0-0 0, Spencer Gordon 3-3 0-0 7, Andrew Tofslie 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 17-40 11-13 47.
Butte Central 15 5 10 10 — 40
Belgrade 9 11 12 15 — 47
3-point goals — BC 4-16 (Heaphy 2-9, Sestrich 0-4, Holter 1-1, Harrington 1-2), Belgrade 2-10 (Fowler 0-5, Page 1-2, Walker 0-2, Gordon 1-1). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — BC 25, Belgrade 6. Technicals — none. Rebounds — BC 20 (M. Simkins 7), Belgrade 30 (Fowler 7). Blocks — BC 0, Belgrade 1 (Edwards). Assists — BC 8 (Holter 3, Heaphy 2, Sestrich 2), Belgrade 8 (Page 2). Steals — BC 8 (Holter 3), Belgrade 6 (Page 2). Turnovers — BC 9, Belgrade 10.