BUTTE — Olivia Bolton freely admitted she was a little tired after Butte Central’s 39-23 win over Stevensville.
To be fair, the senior Butte Central guard had every right to be as her team had fought off a physical Frenchtown squad less than 24 hours earlier. Leading the Yellowjackets by just four points at halftime, they knew they were going to have to dig deep over the final two quarters.
“Our legs were tired,” Bolton said. “But in the second half, we just really wanted to win. We just knew we had to come out and outscore them.”
Bolton mentioned the Maroons have been installing some new things on offense and that they weren’t executing them correctly in the first half. They were struggling to get the looks they wanted and even when they did, things weren’t always going down.
“We didn’t run things right in the first half and we kinda got yelled at in the locker room,” Bolton said. “But in second half we knew we had to come out and do exactly what we’re told and I think we did a little bit better job of that.”
Central looked much better in the second half, though Maroons’ head coach Meg Murphy couldn’t exactly pin down what the change was.
The Maroons do have a bit of experience with back-to-back games and this was their third of the season. Central managed to sweep Frenchtown and Stevensville on the road in mid-December and also played two games during an early-season tournament in Missoula. This time around, however, the Maroons had a slight advantage — they got to sleep in their own beds.
A small thing, but important all the same.
“It really helps,” Central head coach Meg Murphy said. “And playing these back-to-back’s helps as well, we play Dillon and Park in another one right before districts and it helps you come tournament time.”
While districts are less than a month away, Central’s defense looks postseason ready and are allowing just 37.5 points per game.
During the latest back-to-back, the Maroons gave up 49 total.
Getting shots off against Central has been tough all year, but Stevensville’s 23 was the lowest scoring output a Maroon opponent has had this season.
“You can’t score 23 points and win at this level,” Yellowjackets head coach Jordan Hasquet said. “We just have get tougher. We have to finish layups and free throws. We get a few more of those and we might have been in it, who knows.”
Hasquet seemed happy with his defense, especially against Central guard Kloie Thatcher, who was held to just two points. Thatcher has struggled from range over the past two games, but was more than happy to dish the ball, getting several nice assists.
Senior forward Megan Michelotti really kept the Maroons afloat, scoring six of her game-high 15 points in the first half. Her work on both the offensive and defensive glass was also impressive.
“She’s amazing,” Bolton said. “Her boards, they keep us in the game.”
The win moves Central to 5-2 in conference play and a 9-3 record overall. Stevensville falls to 0-6 in the Southwest A Conference and 1-11 on the year.