By Bill Foley
In two losses at the Butte Civic Center this week, the Butte High girls’ basketball team showed that it can put together a full game.
The Bulldogs just didn’t do it this week.
One day after offensive struggles cost the Bulldogs, Butte High’s had defensive lapses that hurt in a 60-46 nonconference loss to Kalispell Flathead.
“We need to fix a few little things,” Butte High coach Maury Cook said of his Bulldog defense. “If we can score 46 points, we’re going to be in some games.”
The 46 points came even though the Bulldogs almost got blanked in the first quarter. The Bravettes scored the game’s first 14 points.
Flathead star Tiana Johnson scored seven of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter to get the Bravettes rolling.
The Bulldogs also gave them an assist with some defensive breakdowns.
“Defensively it’s more of just losing our assignments and not being where we need to be more than anything,” Cook said.
After the slow start, though, the Bulldogs showed some toughness, battling back to within 14-10 by midway through the second quarter.
Seven of those points came from the free throw line, as the Bulldog’s aggressive offense drew fouls.
“We’ve got to keep working hard offensive,” Cook said. “I was just really pleased with our aggressiveness offensively in the Carolina offense, which is our dribble-drive offense. We were way more aggressive.”
Flathead bounced back with a run to take a 29-14 lead into the halftime break. Butte High made a couple of runs in the second half, but could never get within single digits.
Sophomore Ally Cleverly, who missed Wednesday’s loss to Kalispell Glacier with an illness, bounced back to score 17 points to lead the Bulldog offense. She hit two 3-poienrs and was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line.
Abby Dodge added nine points for Butte High, which saw seven players dent the score book. Kira Mortensen, a promising 6-foot-1 freshman.
“Kira came in and she shot some great free throws for us today,” Cook said. “When she gets stronger, she’s going to be a force.”
Johnson, a 6-2 senior who came in averaging 19 points per game, scored more than 20 points for the third time in seven games.
Kylee Meredith scored 12 for the Bravettes, who improved to 4-3 on the season. Mary Heaton tossed in 10.
Butte High got five points from Haley Herron, four from Alissa Bernhardt, three from Marti Ludwick and two from Aspen Lovshin.
“I was pretty happy with their tenacity and their resilience,” Cook said of his team. “They came out and battled back twice when they could have just folded.”
Brittney Tierney, Keely Pochervina, Trisha Ericson and Kaidy McClafferty also contributed for the Bulldogs, who will take a 1-5 record into the holiday break.
“They play hard, every one of them,” Cook said. “I can’t say enough about Brittney Tierney and how hard she plays. We’re getting some good guard play out of some of those younger kids.”
The Bulldogs are off until Jan. 5 when they travel to Great Falls High for their first Eastern AA game.
KALISPELL FLATHEAD (4-3) — Kylee Meredith 3 5-6 12, Mary Heaton 4 2-8 10, Sierra Siblerud 3 0-0 7, Kelsey Gillespie 2 0-0 5, Tiana Johnson 9 4-4 23, Averie Olson 0 0-2 0, Clara Vandenbosch 0 0-0 0, Allie Gagnon 0 0-0 0, Sara Clarin 0 0-0 0, Taylor Henley 1 1-2 3. Totals 22 12-22 608.
BUTTE HIGH (1-5) — Alissa Bernhardt 1 1-6 4, Keely Pochervina 0 0-0 0, Brittney Tierney 0 0-0 0, Ally Cleverly 3 9-9 17, Abby Dodge 2 5-8 9, Marti Ludwick 1 0-0 3, Aspen Lovshin 1 0-2 2, Kira Mortensen 0 6-8 6, Trisha Ericson 0 0-0 0, Haley Herron 2 1-2 5, Kaidy McClafferty 0 0-3 0. Totals 10 22-38 46.
Flathead 14 15 18 13 — 60
Butte 3 11 16 16 — 46
3-point goals — Flathead 4 (Meredith, Siblerud, Gillespie, Johnson), Butte 4 (Cleverly 2, Ludwick, Burnhardt). Fouls — Flathead 25, Butte 22. Fouled out — Siblerud. Technicals — none.