Rustlers turned back Bulldog boys, 71-40

By Bruce Sayler

Butte High’s youth and inexperience in boys’ basketball were on display Saturday, probably as much as C.M. Russell’s maturity and athletic prowess.

The senior-laden Rustlers triumphed 71-40 over Butte High in the Eastern AA Conference game at the Butte Civic Center.

CMR started an all-senior lineup against the Bulldogs’ senior-less first five, and established early dominance. An 11-2 run in the first quarter took the Great Falls team to a 13-5 lead from a 3-2 deficit. The Bulldogs had taken the very early leads — 3-0 on a Trevyn Roth long-distance dial-in and 5-2 on a Roth pullup jumper.

C.M. Russell clamped down on Roth and he didn’t score the rest of the way. Six-foot-three senior Garrison Rothwell took over for the Rustlers and scored 9 of the 11 in the important early run.

He finished with 16 and Sam Vining netted four 3-point shots in a game-high 21-point performance as deeply stocked CMR led the rest of the way. Non-starter Kaden Walsh, tallied 12.

“For starters, credit them,” Butte High head coach Luke Powers said of the Rustlers. “They’re a damn good team. They’re very athletic and bigger than we were at every position.”

“But, we have to understand we’re playing the Double-A East teams and we have to learn to box out. We have to look at film and get better. We haven’t had a game yet this season where we had all the pieces in the puzzle.”

Rebounding was a gash on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ defense was over-matched, but the effort was there. Better shooting would have helped them compete, their coach said.

“We got killed on rebounding,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time, the team that wins on the boards wins the game. We’re talented, but, right now, we’re just too young. We won’t make that an excuse. We’ll keep improving.”

C.M. Russell led by 14-9 after one quarter and 37-20 at halftime. The team substituted freely, enjoying a seasoned bench of three seniors and three juniors. The Bulldogs received a lift from their only senior on the roster — Lathan Ricketts, who came off the bench to score 10 points, including a pair of 3-point shots. A mix of juniors, sophomores and freshmen filled out the Butte High playing time.

Rothwell and Vining combined for 15 points in a 19-9 Russell third quarter that widened the margin to 56-21 heading into the last frame. Much of the CMR offense can be traced to the passing of 6-1 senior point guard Jake Wilkins, who dealt six assists.

“We have to start shooting better,” Powers said. “We can’t miss the first half of one-and-ones. That’s like giving up a turnover. We have to get good at doing the little things to make up for our lack of size.”

Clay Ferguson, a 6-2 junior guard, led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points. He and the 6-1 Ricketts were the only Bulldogs in double figures.

“Clay’s special,” Powers said,adding that the physicality of the defense Russell could offer with “six or seven seniors” on the roster showed effects.

The major damage was done on the boards. The Rustlers out-rebounded their hosts by 22 boards, 41-19. Rothwell and the 6-3 Vining each grabbed seven caroms and 6-5 Russell Gagne came off the bench to snare five. Jake Olsen, a 6-6 senior, swatted away two shots.

In contrast, the 6-0 Roth led Butte High on the boards with four rebounds.

Despite the Russell defense, the Bulldogs committed only 13 turnovers and they came up with nine steals. Tommy Mellott, a 5-11 sophomore, dished a team-high three assists.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Powers said of his team’s schedule, which resumes Thursday with the city championship game against Class A in-town rival Butte Central in the Civic Center, then is followed by a road trip to Billings for two Eastern AA counters the next week.

“We have to stay positive and go beat our crosstown rival.,” the coach continued. “We will compete and it will be a fantastic basketball game for the city of Butte.”

Kash Kelly finished with six points for the Bulldogs and 6-4 freshman Jacob Olson came in from the bench to score four points and rip down three rebounds. Kale McCarthy, Zach Carlson, Billy Kelly, Marty Hanley, Kaven Noctor, Ryan Burt, Andrew Booth and Jake Vetter also played.


GREAT FALLS C.M. RUSSELL (5-1, 1-0) — Jake Wilkins 1-1 0-0 2, Jake Olsen 2-3 2-2 6, Kyle Byrne 1-3 0-0 2, Garrison Rothwell 7-9 1-4 16, Sam Vining 7-15 3-3 21, Russell Gagne 2-4 2-2 6, Caleb Currington 1-3 0-0 2, Bryce Depping 0-3 1-2 1, Kaden Walsh 5-6 2-2 12, Garrit Bloemendaal 1-2 1-3 3, Ky’Myie Crawley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-50 12-18 71.

BUTTE HIGH (1-5, 0-2) — Kash Kelly 1-4 4-4 6, Tommy Mellott 0-6 0-0 0, Clay Ferguson 6-13 3-6 15, Kale McCarthy 0-1 0-2 0, Trevyn Roth 2-5 0-0 5, Lathan Ricketts 3-8 2-2 10, Jacob Olson 2-3 0-0 4, Zach Carlson 0-0 0-0 0, Billy Kelly 0-1 0-0 0, Marty Hanley 0-0 0-0 0, Kaven Noctor 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Burt 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Booth 0-1 0-0 0, Jake Vetter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-42 9-14 40.

C.M. Russell 14 23 19 15 — 71

Butte High 9 13 9 9 — 40

3-point goals — CMR 5-13 (Byrne 0-1, Rothwell 1-1, Vining 4-9, Depping 0-1, Crawley 0-1), Butte 3-14 (K. Kelly 0-1, Mellott 0-2, Ferguson 0-2, Roth 1-3, Ricketts 2-5, B. Kelly 0-1). Fouled out — McCarthy. Total fouls __ CMR 16, Butte 16. Technicals — none. Rebounds — CMR 41 (Rothwell 7, Vining 7), Butte 19 (Roth 4). Blocks — CMR 4 (Olsen 2), Butte 1 (McCarthy). Assists — CMR 17, (Wilkins 6), Butte 7 (Mellott 3). Steals — CMR 5 (Vining 2), Butte 9 (Roth 3, K. Kelly 2). Turnovers — CMR 13, Butte 13.