Sizzler sees Sentinel tip Butte High on last shot

By Bruce Sayler

Every basket made was the potential game-winner and every miss was costly.
An emotionally charged semifinal-round game saw Missoula Sentinel pull out a 64-63 squeaker over Butte High at the Civic Center Saturday in the Western AA Divisional high school boys’ basketball tournament.
For the dramatics, credit Sentinel 6-foot-5 sophomore Lincoln Rodgers with the winner. He scored a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to lift the Spartans to the win. Any two of Rodgers’ 24 points could’ve been credited for the victory, though, of course – or any two of teammate Grady Walker’s 24.
Or, just any two by a Spartan.
Two seconds were left when Rogers let fly with his shot. Otherwise, a 3-point basket by Butte High 6-1 sophomore Hudson Luedtke 48 seconds earlier would’ve been what counted as the winner. It made the score 63-62 in Butte High’s favor.
The game had main stage attraction written all over it. Surges, comebacks, pressure free throws, dazzling long shots and acrobatic drives all played parts in the flair, along with the nifty passes and rugged rebounds. There was even an unusual goal-tending call. It went against Butte High.
What a game, it was.
The result lifted Sentinel into Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game against intra-Missoula rival Hellgate, defending state Class AA champ. The Bulldogs are to play Kalispell Glacier at 11 a.m. in a loser-out that will advance the winner to next week’s state Class AA tournament in Missoula. A similar loser-out will be being played at Butte High’s Ross J. Richardson Gym Saturday, also at 11, pitting Helena Capital against Missoula Big Sky. The winner will also go to state, as will, of course, Hellgate and Sentinel.
The biggest leads in the Butte-Sentinel romp were 14 points by the Spartans in the second quarter, and six by the Bulldogs in the first.
Such strains pulled at the emotions flooding from the court into the stands.
Sentinel controlled a 54-47 lead going into the fourth quarter. Butte High quickly made up the difference. Rueso Battermann, playing the game of his career, arced in a corner-3 for the first points of the last period. Rogers answered with a drive to the basket and then Battermann scored again, taking a pass under the basket from Bo Demarois before dropping it in through the hoop.
Tocher Lee followed with two Butte free throws and then Battermann drove the hoop, pulled up, and tied the score with the short jumper. It was 56-all with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the game.
Butte-rooted Sentinel star Riley Allen made one of two free throws to break the tie and the Bulldogs got it back on a pair of foul shots Luedtke canned. Walker worked for a determined layup and followed it half a minute later with a charity toss.
Sentinel led 60-58 with 2:06 on the clock.
Luedtke tied it with a drive that emulated the break to start a pool game. Both teams missed opportunities as time ran down and pressure mounted.
Evan Richardson scored a contested layup and Sentinel was up by 62-60 with 1:09 to go. Luedtke then gave Butte High its last lead with the last 3-ball.
After Rogers’ shot with 2 seconds on the clock, Butte High was game for a desperation try. However, the inbounds pass was deflected the time clicked off before any possible chance of recovery.
Butte High had taken a 21-17 first-quarter edge in a torrid first quarter that saw the Bulldogs drain five 3-pointers.
For the game, the teams combined for 16 treys and both shot above or near 50 percent from the field.
Sentinel caught fire in the second quarter and owned a gaping 45-31 command at halftime. Rogers and Walker both had 19 points by intermission. Rogers scored 16 of his in the second frame.
Battermann ignited the Bulldogs’ comeback after halftime. He scored the first six points of the second half and seriously denting the Spartans’ advantage. Walker got Sentinel on the board in the third quarter with a shot jumper, but Dylan “Bobby” Bache responded for Butte High with a 3-pointer. Bache was coming off a 34-point performance the day before against Big Sky.
The gap stayed steady to the end of the third quarter, Sentinel leading 54-47. But the Bulldogs had fought their way back into the game.
Luedtke finished with 23 points to pace the Bulldogs and Battermann tallied 19. Lee had 11. Bache ended up with seven points, Demarais had two and 6-6 eighth-grader Brady Hanson contributed a free throw to the total points. Torre Tempel and Braylon Larson also played many minutes.
The loss snapped Butte High’s win streak at seven games and put the Bulldogs at 13-7 for the season. Sentinel is 11-9.
MISSOULA SENTINEL (11-9) – Jackson Krueger 1-3 0-1 2, Lincoln Rogers 9-15 1-2 24, Evan Richardson 1-3 0-1 2, Riley Allen 3-4 2-3 8, Holter Schweyen 1-3 2-2 4, Kade Robinson 0-2 0-0 0, Grady Walker 10-19 2-4 24. Totals 25-49 7-12 64.
BUTTE HIGH (13-7) – Tocher 3-8 2-2 11, Bo Demarais 1-3 0-2 2, Dylan Bache 1-8 4-4 7, Hudson Luedtke 8-12 3-4 23, Rueso Battermann 8-10 2-2 19, Torre Tempel 0-2 0-0 0, Brady Hanson 0-0 1-2 1, Braylon Larson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 12-16 63,
Sentinel 17 28 9 10 – 64
Butte High 21 10 16 16 – 63
3-point goals – Sentinel 7-13 (Krueger 0-1, Rogers 5-8, Walker 2-4), Butte 9-21 (Lee 3-7, Bache 1-5, Luedtke 4-6, Battermann 1-1, Tempel 0-2). Fouled out – Allen. Total fouls – Sentinel 18, Butte 14. Rebounds – Sentinel 25 (Walker 7), Butte 24 (Bache 7). Blocks – Sentinel 0, Butte 3 (Demarais 1, Bache 1, Battermann 1). Assists – Sentinel 1 (Allen), Butte 5 (Lee 1, Demarais 1, Luedtke 1, Battermann 1, Tempel 1). Steals – Sentinel 4 (Rogers 2), Butte 3 (Lee 1, Bache 1, Battermann 1). Turnovers – Sentinel 12, Butte 11.