Butte’s football team pulled off a commanding 31-7 win over rival No. 4 Bozeman on Sept. 15.
On Tuesday, it was the Bulldogs’ basketball team's turn to earn an upset win over a ranked Hawks team, this time a 50-46 victory over third-ranked Bozeman.
“That’s the first time I’ve beaten Bozeman since I joined football this year and it’s amazing,” Trevyn Roth, who finished with 11 points, said following Butte’s win. “I’m kind of speechless. It feels great.”
“This one feels good,” Butte coach Luke Powers said. “It’s always fun to beat your rival Bozeman. It’s fun to be in the gym and hear this place rocking and have a great home crowd. And it was fun to see the kids build confidence as the game went on.”
The Bulldogs and Hawks will square off for a rematch on Feb. 20 in Bozeman.
The Mack Attack
Griz commit Mack Anderson entered Tuesday’s game averaging a double-double and leading the Hawks in points per game (16.6) and rebounds per game (12.9).
The undersized Bulldogs built their game plan around bottling up the 6-foot-9 juggernaut.
“We ran a box and 1,” Roth explained after the game. “One guy was going to full front (Anderson) the whole game and everyone else would play zone. He’ll get his 'cause he’s not a bad player at all. But we just had to keep him at bay and scrap the boards.”
Wherever Anderson went a Bulldog was shadowing him, contesting every shot he took and challenging him on every rebound he went for.
Even when Bozeman seized a third quarter lead, Powers said the Bulldogs never altered their strategy.
“We were down and kept battling,” Powers said. “We never got out of our gameplan.”
The defensive scheme worked, limiting Anderson to six points.
Taking their time
The Bulldogs bottled up Anderson anytime he touched the ball. That was surely frustrating for Bozeman. The Bulldogs were 15-of-18 from the free-throw line. That too was frustrating for Bozeman.
But maybe most frustrating of all? Butte was in no rush.
One possession in the first quarter lasted 2 minutes, 7 seconds as Butte passed around the perimeter, then passed to cutters, who then passed it back to the perimeter. So frustrating in fact, the Hawks committed two fouls on that possession alone.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t hold the ball quite like that the rest the way, but patience was the virtue of the day.
“We talked before about if we were just going to hold it the whole time and try to hold it for a minute, but we decided to go somewhere in between,” Clay Ferguson said. Ferguson led all scorers with 25 points, including 10-of-10 shooting from the stripe.
No pain, no gain
Butte sophomore guard Tommy Mellott, who spent much of the game assigned to Anderson, gritted it out and played through a sprain he suffered against Billings West to help his team seal the win.
“(Mellott) has a sprained ankle and played through it,” Powers said. “Awfully proud of Tommy Mellott.”
True to his character as a guard and the football team’s quarterback, Mellott’s focus after the game — even as he iced his ankle — was on the team and savoring the win over their rival.
“We have the potential to do this every week, some weeks we just haven’t been able to show it,” Mellott said. “Tonight was a good example of some of the work we’ve been putting in.”
With a heavy heart
Senior Lathan Ricketts’ impact wasn’t felt so much on the box score, but his chippy defense helped bottle up Bozeman’s juggernaut front court.
Ricketts didn’t see as much time on the court as he might usually, Powers said, because he’s had a tough week.
“Lathan Ricketts did a great job. Lathan’s grandfather had his funeral yesterday,” Powers said after the win.
With just one day to put together the defense for the Bozeman matchup, there wasn’t much time to get Ricketts acclimated. Still, the 6-1 forward did his part in lifting the Bulldogs to their first win over the rival in six years.
This one’s up there
Powers has been at the helm for the past three seasons. This year’s squad is a wiry, undersized bunch who’ve had a rough go of it so far this season.
In a season like this, beating Bozeman has to be among the biggest wins he’s had, right?
“It’s up there because of that, but at the same time all this shows is what our potential is,” Powers said. “It’s a great win for our kids, we needed it, it’s a morale booster, but at the same time, it’s just one conference win.
“We love that it was over our rival Bozeman, we love that it was the No. 1 team in the east, but it’s just one.”