Peoples’ 39 leads Maroons in semifinal rout

HAMILTON — Dougie Peoples had a day for the record book Friday.

For multiple reasons.

The Butte Central junior scored 39 points to lead Butte Central to a 74-53 win over Frenchtown in the semifinals of the Western A Divisional boys’ basketball tournament on the Dale Berry Court.

Central will play Dillon in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. championship game. Friday’s win assured BC a trip to the Class A State tournament, which is March 9-12 in Missoula. Dillon beat Polson 58-51 in the other semifinal match up.

Peoples spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench, and head coach Brodie Kelly did not know that his star was three points shy of Mike McLeod’s school record.

Kelly knew Peoples had 39 points because one of his assistants, Alex Murphy, once scored 38 points against Anaconda in 2006.

“We were joking in int the locker room that Alex no longer has the most points in the locker room,” Kelly said.

The coach, though, did not know McLeod’s number.

“That’s what crazy about Dougie,” Kelly said. “He sat like the last 6 minutes?”

The 39 points ties Peoples with the great “Jumpin’” Joe Kelly for third place on the team’s single-game scoring list. Kelly poured in 39 against Kalispell in 1945.

McLeod scored 42 points in the divisional championship game against Deer Lodge in 1981. Tom Kenney tossed in 41 in the state championship game against Livingston in 1985.

Jay Vogelsang is now tied with Murphy for fifth at 38. He scored his against Whitefish in 1970.

During the game, Peoples became just the seventh high school player from Butte to join the 500-point Club in a single season. He now has 519.

Other members of Butte’s 500-point Club are Central’s Joe Antonietti (638 points in 1969), Butte High’s Lexie Nelson (574 in 2010), Central’s Mike Judd (562 in 1966), Central’s Brooke Badovinac (537 and counting in 2022) Central’s John Sullivan (536 in 1986) and BC’s Joe Kelly (518 in 1944).

“The thing I love about him is he has earned every bit of it,” Coach Kelly said of Peoples. “He has lived in the gym since he could walk. Even now, every time he gets a chance to shoot extra shots, he does it.”

Since he spent so much time on the bench, Peoples clearly could have scored more points on Friday. That, however, is the story of his season.

The Maroons rolled their record to 22-1, and not many of the games have been close. Last week’s 53-51 win over Dillon in the championship game of the Southwestern A District tournament is BC’s only game decided by less than 11 points.

“Everybody down here is raving about it,” Kelly said of Peoples’ performance. “He’s just got so many ways to score.”

Overall, Kelly said his offense was rolling in the first half as BC jumped out to a 40-21 halftime lead.

Kyle Holter scored 11 points in the win that saw 10 different BC players score. Bryson Sestrich hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored six points, Eric Loos and Zane Moodry each tossed in four, and Jack Keeley, Drew Badovinac, Joseph Sehulster, Gage Guldseth and Riley Gelling scored two apiece.

George Riojas also contributed for the Maroons.

Eli Quinn scored 14 points to lead Frenchtown (15-8), which heads to the consolation bracket. Four of Frenchtown’s losses have come to BC.

Connor Michaud tossed in nine points, while Devin Shelton scored seven. Frenchtown also got five points from Sully Belcourt, four from Keaton Simpson, three apiece from Jeremy Valasquez, Joshua Lucier, Kamas Romney and Carter Anciaux, and two from Kellen Klimpel.

Central will play in the State tournament for the 16th time in Kelly’s 18 seasons as head coach.

Peoples has scored 943 varsity points over the last two seasons.

FRENCHTOWN (15-8) — Kellen Klimpel 1 0-0 2, Sully Belcourt 1 3-3 5, Keaton Simpson 1 2-2 4, Connor Michaud 4 1-2 9, Jeremy Valasquez 1 0-0 3, Devin Shelton 1 5-7 7, Eli Quinn 4 5-7 14, Joshua Lucier 1 0-0 3, Kamas Romney 1 0-0 3, Carter Anciaux 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 16-21 53.
BUTTE CENTRAL (22-1) — Bryson Sestrich 2 0-0 6, Drew Badovinac 1 0-0 2, Dougie Peoples 11 12-13 39, Kyle Holter 5 0-0 11, Eric Loos 2 0-0 4, Jack Keeley 1 0-0 2, Joseph Sehulster 1 0-0 2, Zane Moodry 2 0-0 4, Gage Guldseth 1 0-0 2, George Riojas 0 0-0 0, Riley Gelling 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 12-13 74.
Frenchtown               11        10        19        13 — 53
Butte Central            19        21        21        13 — 74

3-point goals — FT 5 (Valasquez, Quinn, Lucier, Romney, Anciaux), BC 8 (Peoples 5, Sestrich 2, Holter). Fouls — FT 8, BC 15. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none.