BUTTE — Maury Cook wasn’t particularly happy.
The head coach of the Butte girls’ basketball team saw his team down big — by 13 points, to be exact — at halftime to Butte Central in the City Championship.
It was going to take something significant to change the tide of the game. So, as the team piled into the locker room at between halves, Cook challenged his squad.
“We were loud,” Cook said “I didn’t think we came out with passion at the beginning of the game and I think we were a little scared. Our kids our young and we’re still learning how to win.”
If the final two quarters of the game were a test, then Butte aced it.
The Bulldogs, behind 19 second-half points from Haley Herron, who had 23 total, took the game 57-51. It was the first Butte girls’ basketball team’s win in the City Championship in three years.
“This is huge for Butte High and I think we gained some momentum tonight,” Cook said. “Our kids, they came out ready to play in the second half. I can’t say enough about them all.”
Central certainly did not make things easy in the final few minutes of the game.
Rocky Mountain College commit Kloie Thatcher hit five three-pointers, including two in the final quarter. She gave the Maroons a 51-50 lead with 34.7 seconds left with a deep three and had one of her best performances of the season.
“She’s always a clutch player, she likes to pass it more than shoot, but as a coach you want the ball in Kloie’s hands,” Butte Central head girls coach Meg Murphy said. “You can’t say enough about her, she’s a special kid.”
On the possession following Thatcher’s late three, the Marrons allowed Bulldogs forward Kira Mortensen inside and she made them pay. The 6-foot-1 sophomore finished a tough shot through contact and made the free throw to put Butte up 53-51.
Mortensen converted three three-point plays, all in the second half, and was a huge part of Butte outscoring Central 41-22 during that timeframe.
“She has such an upside,” Cook said. “If she gets a bit more strength on her, she’s going to be real tough. Great kid, great heart, and that putback and free throw at the end was just huge.”
The win moved Butte to 4-3 in what’s starting to look like a true turnaround year. The Bulldogs are still young and there’s quite a bit of growing for the team to do, but the early results seem to be positive.
Butte hit seven three-pointers as a team despite sharpshooting guard Brittany Tierney taking a hard fall early in the game and clearly played in a bit of pain. Ally Cleverly hit three total and two in the second half to help spark the comeback.
“I’m just really proud of the kids tonight,” Cook said. “Meg (Murphy) always has good teams and this is just a really good win for us.”
The Maroons drop to 6-3, but still look like a team that’s going to be able to contend come the postseason.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Murphy said. “You make one or two free throws there and finish a few layups and this is a different game. Our kids laid everything out on the floor.”