BUTTE — The Beavers showed why they are consistently one of the teams to beat in Class A boys basketball, as Dillon led wire-to-wire against the Class AA Butte Bulldogs during a 66-48 non-conference victory at the Butte Civic Center on Tuesday night.
"We had a lot of energy today, I thought, especially on defense," said Dillon coach Terry Thomas. "And it seems like when we played good, hard defense, it helps our offense and we got some open-floor opportunities."
Captains Connor Curnow and Jonathan Kirkley took control of the game from the opening jump. The two leaders finished with 22 and 21 points respectively, and their strong opening half helped bury the Bulldogs before Butte ever had a chance to settle into the game.
"Kirkley on the outside does such a good job, again starting with defense, and then being able to try to get deflections and steals," Thomas said. "Then once he gets in the open floor, he's really good at finishing. That's kind of his thing, and he was able to knock down a couple of 3s, which helped as well.
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"And then Connor inside is really strong, aggressive and he knows how to kind of anticipate the rebounds. He's just kind of got that knack. Some folks have it."
Kenley Leary finished with 11 points to lead the Bulldogs in a game where Butte lacked the physicality to be able to hang with the Beavers.
"Some of our inside kids are pretty good, and pretty big and strong," Thomas said. "So that is one of our advantages. We try to use it. They do a good job on the boards and then trying to create scoring opportunities inside, especially off of offensive rebounds and that type of stuff."
Ball movement paired with consistent shot making was the name of the game between the Butte and Dillon girls basketball teams as the Bulldogs pulled away to a 57-43 victory.
“Butte’s inside-out killed us,” said Beavers coach John Hansen. “They shot extremely well from the 3-point line. Obviously we knew it was going to be tough against Olson, who I thought we played pretty good defense against, but we knew they were shooters and our attention to detail on defense needs to get better.”
Dillon held Butte’s post players, Ashley Olson and Laura Rosenleaf, to six and eight points, respectively. But that left the Beavers exposed on the outside, and the Bulldogs made them pay.
Kodie Hoagland went off for 18 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers. Emmarie Richards knocked down three triples to finish with nine points, and Brooke McGrath added another pair of 3s en route to seven points.
“(Hoagland) did a great job and then you know, as teams start to kind of collapse on her she's done a really good job of finding the open shooter,” Bulldogs coach Bryan Arntson said. “I was really proud tonight of how we shared the basketball.
“We did a good job of playing inside-out. We had some good high-percentage shots off some good passes.”
The Beavers were just a bit out of sorts. In addition to being a step behind on defense, they had to really work to manufacture their open looks. When they were presented with a good look at the hoop, their shot making wasn’t consistent enough to get over the hump.
“I felt like actually we match up pretty well against (Butte), but they just outworked us and they were more physical,” Hansen said. “Unfortunately we haven't faced a team — we will — in Class A who are as physical. We just haven't seen that yet. We did a lot of reacting, they got a lot easier baskets and I thought their offensive execution was a lot better.”
Even though Dillon left it’s A-game at home, Hansen added that it was still a great learning opportunity to move up in classification for a non-conference game.
Halle Fitzgerald led the Beavers with 12 points. Lauryn Petersen finished with eight and Jordyn Walker managed seven.
Matthew Kiewiet is the sports editor for the Montana Standard and sports betting columnist for 406MTSports. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @mattkiewiet406.