BUTTE — Most Eastern AA teams have grappled to find a way to fend off Billings Senior’s Kola Bad Bear this season.
Go ahead and add Butte to that list.
Bad Bear — a junior, and the highest scoring girl in the conference — delivered a game-high 18 points to help propel the fourth-ranked Broncs to a 66-42 win over the Butte High Bulldogs on Saturday at the Butte Civic Center.
Senior (8-1, 4-0) won its sixth-straight game while handing Butte (4-5, 1-3) consecutive losses for the first time this season.
“Overall I was very pleased with the way we played, we got a little bit better,” Senior coach Zach Robbins said. “There were some good things we saw from our starters and our non-starters came in and did some good things.”
Butte, led by 12 points from Aspen Lovshin, jumped to a 7-4 lead in the first quarter before the Broncs responded with a 10-0 run to close out the quarter. Senior expanded its lead to 33-20 by the half, with Lovshin banking in a last-second triple from the right corner to narrow the deficit.
Bulldogs' Brittney Tierney, who finished with 10 points, opened the second half with a 3-pointer but that was as close as Butte came to threatening Senior's lead.
Bad Bear, who is averaging just shy of 20 points per game, made her mark in three quarters, helping push Senior to a 48-33 fourth quarter lead before the bench stepped in.
The Broncs spread the ball around, with 10 players registering points. Courtney Bad Bear, a senior and Kola’s older sister, scored 10 points and Mariah Linse and Ellie Ostermiller each chipped in with seven.
Senior is rolling through its schedule, with the only blemish so far a 42-32 loss to No. 2 Missoula Sentinel. But the Broncs, not concerned with win streaks, still feel there is opportunity to improve.
“Our focus is on getting better day by day, practice by practice, game by game,” Robbins said. "Our focus is the next game."
Butte coach Maury Cook knows that his team, coming off a 42-30 loss to Billings West on Friday, needs a jolt. The Bulldogs, often playing at a sluggish pace, seemed hesitant to attack lanes or take shots.
"Defensively I thought we did okay, but these past two games we haven't played our best offensively," Cook said. "We looked like we'd never run an offense before. We need a quicker pace and we need to set pace. We've just got to get better."
Senior will play Skyview on Thursday and Butte will take on Great Falls CMR. The Rustlers edged the Bulldogs 50-45 on Jan. 6.