By Bill Foley
If there ever was a time when a team could make an excuse, it is now for the Butte High girls’ basketball team.
The Bulldogs just finished back-to-back games against two tough Western AA opponents without as much as one real practice in the past two weeks.
After falling big at Missoula Hellgate on Friday, Butte High started slow and dropped a 57-39 decision to Kalispell Glacier Saturday at the Butte Civic Center.
Butte High coach Maury Cook, however, is not about to make an excuse for his 1-4 Bulldogs.
“We can’t make excuses all year,” the coach said. “We’ve got to be able to come out and execute. Our offense, at times, just doesn’t click. We’re just kind of being individuals. We’ve got to play more as a team on offense.
“The talent level is there. The effort is there. The effort has to be put forth in the right direction.”
Still, signs of rust from a two-week coronavirus quarantine were there from the start as the Wolfpack took the lead for good with an 11-2 run to start the game. Kenzie Williams scored 10 seconds into the game, and Glacier never trailed.
The team closed out the first quarter with a 9-0 run, and Glacier led 39-18 at halftime.
That was largely due to Glacier’s press. Like it did against Hellgate on Friday, the Bulldogs struggled against the Wolfpack pressure.
“If we’re not getting pressed, we play even with teams. But we’re struggling with the press and we’ve got to figure that out,” Cook said. “They pressed us, we struggled with the press, and we get down 15, 20. We just bury ourselves.”
Those big holes help take the Bulldogs out of their offense.
“We put the pressure on ourselves offensively, then we take shots we normally wouldn’t take,” Cook said.
Cook said the Bulldogs played great defense against Hellgate. He liked the team’s defense against Glacier, too. He just said that the turnovers have been leading to too many easy hoops for the Bulldog opponents.
Ellie Keller poured in 16 points to lead Glacier, which improved to 3-2 with their second straight win. Williams joined her in double figures with 13.
Glacier also got nine points from Emma Anderson, seven from Kaylee Fritz, six from Sidney Gulick, five from Janessa Henson and one from Noah Fincher.
Offensively, the signs are there for the Bulldogs, Cook said. Nine Butte players scored points, with Kodie Hoagland leading the way with seven.
MacKenzie Tutty and Tylar Clary each scored six, McCaul McCarthy and Brooke McGrath each tossed in five, Mya Stenson scored four, Ashley Olson tossed in three, Maddison Skeel sank two, and Madalynn Rhodes netted one.
Pieper Joseph, Emmarie Richards and Payton Clary also contributed for the Bulldogs.
“When we do run the offense, I think our kids are extremely capable,” the coach said. “We have shooters, we have kids who can attack the basket. We do those things and we do them well. They just have to be consistently executed.”
That showed in the second half as Butte High outscored Glacier 21-18 after the break.
Cook pointed to the play of Stenson, a junior who missed her sophomore season with an injury. After playing in the JV game, Stenson put in second half work for the Bulldogs.
“Mya Stenson really stepped up tonight. I’m really happy with how she played,” Cook said. “She had a great game in the JV game and really used her minutes well. She was boarding, she was inside and moving. That is what we saw in her two years ago, and it just took her a while to find herself.”
Cook also pointed to the second half play of McGrath, who also played in the JV game.
Overall, Cook said the Bulldogs showed some things to build on when they get back to practice on Monday. The Bulldogs will get in three workouts before traveling to Missoula Big Sky on Thursday.
Cook said he will use that time to work on problems with the press and executing the offense.
“There’s just a lot of good that we’re seeing,” the coach said. “It’s just got to be consistent.”
KALISPELL GLACIER (3-2) — Sidney Gulick 1 3-4 6, Kaylee Fritz 3 0-0 7, Kenzie Williams 4 2-5 13, Ellie Keller 6 2-2 16, Emma Anderson 2 5-9 9, Bethany Sorensen 0 0-0 0, Kiersten Smith 0 0-1 0, Janessa Henson 1 3-4 5, Cady James 0 0-0 0, Cameron Gilman 0 0-0 0, Noah Fincher 0 1-4 1, Bailey Gable 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 16-29 57.
BUTTE HIGH (1-4) — MacKenzie Tutty 2 1-2 6, Kodie Hoagland 2 3-4 7, Madalynn Rhodes 0 1-2 2, McCaul McCarthy 1 3-4 5, Ashley Olson 0 3-4 3, Tylar Clary 2 2-3 6, Maddison Skeel 1 0-0 2, Emmarie Richards 0 0-0 0, Mya Stenson 2 0-2 4, Brooke McGrath 2 1-3 5, Pieper Joseph 0 0-0 0, Payton Clary 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 14-24 39.
Glacier 21 18 12 6 — 57
Butte 8 10 7 14 — 39
3-point goals — Glacier 7 (Williams 3, Keller 2, Gulick, Fritz), Butte 1 (Tutty). Fouls — Glacier 23, Butte 22. Fouled out — Olson. Technicals — none.