Splitting The Defense

Belgrade’s Noel Reynolds drives between Butte High defenders Eric Loos (30) and Andrew Booth Thursday night at the Richardson Gym in Butte.

Jake Olson and Billy Kelly spoiled the Class AA debut for Belgrade Thursday night.

The duo combined for 30 points to lead Butte High to a 66-40 non-conference victory at Richardson Gym in Butte.

Belgrade moved up to AA this season following more than 30 years in Class A, and 11th-year coach Mike Deming noted it was an entirely new experience.

“There was a lot of firsts,” he said. “Obviously our first double A game and for a lot of these guys their first time on a varsity court, and a couple of these guy their first varsity start. The list can go on and on of all the firsts. It was a good starting point in terms of what we need to work on.”

Kelly scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half as the Bulldogs (1-1) built a 35-20 lead at the break. He connected on three of the team’s nine 3-pointers in the contest.

Blake Drakos also buried three 3’s en route to finishing with nine points, while Olson tallied a game-high 16.

The Panthers ran a 2-3 zone in an attempt to counteract Butte’s size, and Deming noted the defensive effort had its ups and downs.

Box Out

Belgrade’s Austin Spangler, left, and Cooper VanLuchene box out Butte High’s Jake Olson Thursday night at the Richardson Gym in Butte.

“I thought at times they played pretty well and at times we were just late on our rotations and gave up open shots to some of their shooters and they capitalized,” he said. “I think they had eight or nine threes on the night and we were just late on their shooters.”

Butte’s football team finished as the state runner up this past season, and Deming noted the basketball team was equally as big and strong.

“What we learned is the physicality and the athletic ability of these players in double A is pretty impressive,” he said. “We have to get better and prepare better for that.”

Noel Reynolds and Cooper VanLuchene each scored eight points to lead the Panthers, while Wyatt Russell had seven.

Belgrade will return Butte Friday for another non-conference game against Butte Central.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround for these guys,” said Deming. “One game under our belt now and now let’s see how we do in this next game.”

Butte 66, Belgrade 40

Belgrade                     8  12    7    9  -  40

Butte                         17  18  18  13  -  66

BELGRADE (0-1) - Alex Casas 0 0-0 0, Ta’Veus Randle 1 3-4 6, Austin Spangler 2 0-0 4, Cooper VanLuchene 3 0-0 8, Noel Reynolds 2 3-9 8, Coby Richards 0 1-2 1, Wyatt Russell 2 2-2 7, Kade Schlauch 2 0-0 6, Sage Smart 0 0-0 0, Hunter Simon 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 9-17 40.

BUTTE (1-1) - Blake Drakos 3 0-0 9,Cael Stenson 3 0-0 7, Cole Stewart 0 0-0 0, Bonner Cetraro 0 0-0 0, Billy Kelly 3 5-7 14, Kenley Leary 1 1-2 3, Andrew Booth 2 0-0 6, Dillon Ferry 1 0-0 2, Ryan Burt 4 1-2 9, Eric Loos 0 0-0 0, Erik Johns 0 0-0 0, Jake Olson 8 0-0 16. Totals: 23 7-11 66.

3-point goals: Bel 7 (VanLuchene 2, Schlauch 2, Randle 1, Reynolds 1, Russell 1), But 9 (Drakos 3, Kelley 3, Booth 2, Stenson 1).