By Bill Foley
Mollie Drew could not have picked a better time to have her best game as a Maroon.
The 5-foot-8 Butte Central sophomore reached a career high with nine points Saturday afternoon, and a shorthanded BC girls’ basketball team turned back Frenchtown 49-43 in a Southwestern A game at the Maroon Activities Center.
The win came as Central senior guard Sofee Thatcher and key sophomore reserve Kathryn Lalicker sat out following a two-week stretch that saw COVID issues sidetrack the Maroons.
“It was tough,” Drew said. “We all had to step up and play harder. One of our main players was out. We worked really hard as a team.”
Drew, who came up one point shy of matching her total points through BC’s first six games, did not lead the Maroons in points. That distinction went to junior Brooke Badovinac and her 27 points.
Drew, though, was key on the boards and on defense as Central improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
“Mollie had a great game. She did a nice job,” BC coach Meg Murphy said before pointing to classmate Ella Moodry. “Ella was a real vocal leader, and she got up there and ripped boards down.”
In addition to battling on the boards, Moodry dished out five assists.
BC used six players, and all six scored at least a point. Moodry and Payton Hartwick both scored five points, Brenna Foley tossed in two, and Maycee Anderson netted one.
“Brenna and Payton did a good job, and Maycee came in and played big minutes for us,” Murphy said.
Murphy praised her team that held a considerable size advantage. Frenchtown sophomore Sadie Smith is 6-1. Senior Demi Smith is 6-foot, and senior Toni Beatty and Carah Evans stand at 5-10.
“We worked really hard all work on defending the bigger girls because they’re a lot bigger than us,” Drew said.
BC ran a 2-3 zone, staying away from man-to-man defense. Central focused so much on denying the ball inside that Frenchtown’s leading scorer did all her damage from outside.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Murphy said. “We just had to pack it in.”
Evans hit five 3-pointers — all seemingly coming at a huge moment — and scored 15 points for the Broncs. Sadie Smith scored 12, and Alexis Godin tossed in nine.
Central led 12-6 after three quarters, and 18-13 after Sadie Smith scored with 2 minutes left in the second.
Badovinac then drove for three straight baskets, and the Maroons led 24-16 at the half.
Frenchtown pulled to with 32-2 on a 3-pointer by Godin late in the third, and Sadie Smith hit a free throw to make it a 32-31 BC lead early in the fourth.
Drew answered by hitting a pair of free throws set up by a Moody pass. The next time down court, Drew scored off another Moodry pass for a 36-31 lead.
Every time Frenchtown appeared to make a run after that, the Maroons had an answer.
Badovinac, who missed her first three free throws, shot 10 for 10 from the stripe in the second half. She hit eight of those free tosses in the fourth after scoring 19 points through the first three frames.
“She’s so good and so humble,” Drew said of Badovinac, whom Murphy calls “smooth” and “nonchalant.”
“That was a really good win for us,” Murphy said. “I’m proud of the way they came out after break. They really did some nice things.”
Next up for the Maroons is a trip to Anaconda for a non-conference game on Thursday. BC is hoping to be back to full strength in time to take on the Copperheads.
FRENCHTOWN (5-2, 3-2) — Alexis Godin 3 1-3 9, Carah Evans 5 0-0 15, Taylor Haskins 0 0-0 0, Demi Smith 0 2-7 2, Sadie Smith 5 2-4 12, Toni Beatty 1 1-2 3, Heather Haskins 0 2-2 2, , Alaina Shannon 0 0-0 0, Katherine Deschamps 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-16 43.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-3, 3-2) — Brenna Foley 1 0-0 2, Payton Hartwick 2 1-2 5, Brooke Badovinac 8 10-13 27, Ella Moodry 0 5-7 5, Mollie Drew 2 5-8 9, Maycee Anderson 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 22-32 49.
Frenchtown 6 10 11 16 — 43
Butte Central 12 12 8 17 — 49
3-point goals — FT 7 (Evans 5, Godin 2), BC 1 (Badovinac). Fouls — FT 22, BC 14. Fouled out — Godin, H. Haskins, Foley. Technicals — none.