Butte High Bulldogs set to battle at Divisionals
The Class AA regular season has come to a close here in Montana, and the Butte High boys enter the Divisional tournament with a 9-9 record overall, and 8-6 in conference play.
Butte High will enter the tournament in Kalispell as the #5 seed and will throw down with Helena Capital one more time. The Bruins (11-7, 8-6) were in Butte for the final game of the regular season on February 24th, and the Bulldogs got the win 69-58. The teams split on the regular season, as Capital was able to hold on to a 1-point victory back on January 26th in Helena.
In the first meeting, the Bruins were led by the Michelotti’s, Nick netted 13, and cousin Joey finished with 10. This past week it was more of the same for the Bruins, Joey put up a dozen, Nick 10. Jack Drynan also jumped into double figures with 10 points.
The name missing in both previous meetings with Capital is Hayden Opitz, their leading scorer who averages 11 points a contest. He is the only player averaging double figures for Capital, Nick Michelotti comes in at 9 a game, and Joey averages 7.
There are a few absolutes when playing Helena Capital, you know they are going to play smothering defense for 32 minutes +, and you know Coach Almquist will have them ready for battle. This should be the best opening-round game on day one.
Butte High is led by freshman point guard Hudson Luedtke. Hudson is averaging 15 points a contest this year, he has been Butte’s leading scorer in 11 of their 18 games, and his highest scoring output so far was 29 against Sentinel two weeks ago. Senior Jace Stenson enters divisionals as the Dogs #2 scorer at 13 ppg, and more importantly (for this opening round game) Jace has led Butte High in scoring both games against Capital. He finished with 13 in the loss in Helena and then steamrolled to 25 points in their last game at home. Cameron Gurnsey is going to have a big hand in this game, as he has all year. Cameron enters the tournament averaging 10 points a game and just brings an incredible athleticism edge to the Dogs. From there the Dogs will lean on Casey Merrifield, Tocher Lee, Dylan Bache, and Bo Demarais, all guys that have stepped up and been big factors for the Bulldogs.
Two important numbers to watch Thursday, Butte High's offense comes in averaging 63 points a game, Capital's defense is giving up 45 points a game. Let's see which side bends.
Butte High vs. Capital is the second game on the boy’s side of the bracket, with tip-off scheduled for 2 pm, at Flathead High School. The winner will move on to a 6:30 semifinal, against the Hellgate vs. Flathead winner, the loser will take on the loser of that Hellgate/Flathead contest Friday afternoon at 12:30.
The top 4 teams will advance to the State AA tournament to be played in Butte, March 9-11.