The men and women of the Butte Police and Fire Departments took a short break from protecting the city streets Wednesday night to try their hand at protecting the basket for the second annual Guns & Hoses Charity Basketball Game inside the Maroon Activities Center on Wednesday night.
The event, which was a football game until last season, helps raise money for a number of charitable organizations in Butte, including Mariah’s Challenge, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte, and Crime Stoppers.
“The event itself is extremely important,” Russ Robertson of the Butte Police Department said. “The cops and firemen, the people who are supposed to be taking care of themselves and taking care of others, that’s where it’s important.”
In addition to being treated to a basketball game between Butte’s finest, the event featured raffles for signed memorabilia from some of Butte’s athletic greats.
“It’s just nice, a lot of the people here donated or were sponsors,” Dan Boyle of the Butte Fire Department said. “To come out and support us, we had a bigger crowd than last year, it gives the players something to look forward to and makes it more fun.”
As for the on the court action, the firefighters broke open a close game in the second quarter to build a double-digit halftime lead, then rolled in the second half to a 76-50 win over the cops, their second consecutive win to give them bragging rights over the boys in blue for the next year.
“Well now that it’s two in a row, we finally have the plaque from last year,” Boyle said. “We’ll get another name on there. There’s definitely a friendly but heated rivalry to it, so that makes it fun too.”
Zach Osborne led the firefighters, who were coached by former Butte and Butte Central coach John Thatcher, with a whopping 30 points in the win, scoring at least seven in every quarter, while Matt Pokorny added 11, and Boyle chipped in with nine.
Former Butte High and Eastern Washington standout Lexi Nelson, who was brought in as a ringer for the police, scored 14 to lead the cops, while Jake Hanley added eight. Former Montana Tech football coach Bob Green coached the police squad.
But more important than the final score or who has bragging rights for the next year, the event also showcased the giving spirit that makes the Butte community so unique, one that, according to the players on the floor Wednesday night, are always willing to help out a good cause.
“I think it’s impressive,” Robertson said of the charity on display. “That just goes to show you how Butte is. This is a community that likes to donate not only money and time, but it goes to show you that the community itself is a great place to live.
“They don’t hold back when they’re trying to give somebody a helping hand, no matter who it is.”