Sentinel ends Butte girls’ title hopes

GREAT FALLS – Missoula Sentinel earned a chance to defend its girls’ basketball state title with a tough 52-43 semifinal win over Butte High Friday in a Class AA State semifinal game at Four Season Arena in Great Falls.

The Spartans got a big 21-point performance from Olivia Roberts – 10 from the foul stripe – and another 12 from Maddie Keast to earn a title berth against Helena Capital. The Bruins held on in a 40-38 overtime nail-biter against the Great Falls Bruins.

Butte High got 12 points each from Natalee Faupel, Sammy McGree and Hattie Thatcher, while Hailey Hoagland tacked on seven for the Bulldogs.

Butte, which fell to 18-4, will face Billings Senior Saturday morning at 10:30 in a consolation semifinal set to be played at the Great Falls Russell Fieldhouse.

Butte High’s girls took a couple early leads, the second of which came after McGree got a steal and Thatcher got a putback for two points and a 6-4 edge with 2:20 left in the first quarter. Sentinel went ahead for good with the next three possessions, though Butte pulled to a 19-all tie going into intermission when McGree banked in a 3-pointer.

The Bulldogs relied heavily on the 3-point shot, as Sentinel’s height hurt Butte’s inside game. The strategy didn’t work, as only five of 17 attempts fell through. The Spartan height advantage worked horizontally as well, as the Sentinel girls kept their arms in Butte’s passing lanes.

“They’re very lengthy,” observed Butte High head coach Jeff Arntson. “They beat us on the boards (34-20) too. We knew going in we’d have to do better there.”

Faupel grabbed eight boards, while Hoagland had three rebounds and five steals. Thatcher led the Bulldogs with four assists, while Maria Michelotti played good, physical minutes off the bench. Erika McLeod, Carlie Haeffner, Mariah Richardson and Andi Hogan all added to the effort on the court.

Though the Bulldogs hadn’t played Sentinel during the regular season, they’ve seen most of the players. The Spartans downed Butte in the teams’ last meeting in the opening round of last season’s State tourney in Bozeman.

“It seemed like two minutes after (the Spartans) won State last year they were predicted to do it again this time,” Arntson said. “They’re a good team and Olivia Roberts is a great player. Our girls wanted this win – maybe a little too much. We missed shots we usually make and our shooting percentage wasn’t what we needed it to be.”

The Spartans netted a pair of key 3-pointers in the third period, and forced the Bulldogs to foul through much of the fourth quarter. Sentinel was 16 of 30 at the stripe, including 15 of 24 in the fourth quarter alone.

Butte High is still in the race however, as the Bulldogs have a shot at third place. They’ll have to get past a Billings Senior team that defeated Kalispell Flathead Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got some tears in that locker room but we’ll have to regroup,” Arntson said. “It’s a tough way to go into the consolation round after a loss in the semifinals.”


Butte 10 9 7 17 – 43

Sentinel 11 8 12 21 – 52

BUTTE (18-4) – Natalee Faupel 2-10 6-8 12, Carlie Haeffner 0-0 0-0 0, Hattie Thatcher 5-8 1-3 12, Sammy McGree 3-9 4-6 12, Hailey Hoogland 3-10 1-2 7, Mariah Richardson 0-0 0-0 0, Maria Michelotti 0-0 0-1 0, Erika McLeod 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-37 12-20 43.

MISSOULA SENTINEL (21-1) – Liz Harper 4-5 0-2 9, Olivia Roberts 5-10 10-12 21, Amanda Bearmedicine 1-3 1-2 3, Maddie Keast 4-12 3-4 12, Lexi Steele 1-4 2-4 5, Elly Jones 0-1 0-2 0, Sam Harper 1-2 0-4 2, Darbi Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 16-30 52.

3-point goals – Butte 5-17 (Faupel 2-6, McGree 2-6, Thatcher 1-2, Hoagland 0-3), Sentinel 4-15 (L.Harper 1-1, Steele 1-3, Roberts 1-3, Keast 1-7, Jones 0-1). Rebounds – Butte 20 (Faupel 8), Sentinel 34 (Roberts 8). Fouls – Butte 22, Sentinel 18. Fouled out – Hoagland, McGree, L.Harper. Steals – Butte 13 (Hoagland 5), Sentinel 10 (Roberts 6). Assists – Butte 7 (Thatcher 4), Sentinel 13 (Steele 5). Blocks – Butte 1 (Faupel), Sentinel 2 (S.Harper, Keast). Turnovers – Butte 18, Sentinel 15.