BUTTE — Looking back on the past 15 years, the Butte Central boys basketball team has stuck to the same philosophy like bread and butter.
“The type of team we want to be is the type of team we’ve been for the last 15 years," said Butte Central boys basketball head coach Brodie Kelly. "We’re going to rely on our half-court (man-to-man defense) and take care of the ball offensively, just use the simple motion and concepts.”
Coming off a third-place finish in the Class A state tournament, the Maroons now shift their focus to their new goal: finishing what they started.
“I think we can go all the way," said senior Gator Yelenich. "Hopefully we can play in it, which would be a big game for us. We finished third last year, hopefully we top that off with all seniors this year.”
“We’ve been close a lot. We’ve been knocking on the door year after year, and when you get into those moments in that level of game the margins are slim. Sometimes it’s a bounce here, a call there, a break there. I’m just hoping one of these years we get over that final hump," Kelly added. "But to keep putting ourselves on that stage I think is a great achievement. And that’s something our guys keep striving for, just keep knocking on the door, and hopefully one of these years we get through it.”
The Maroons return a plethora of experience to this year's roster. For guys like Luke Heaphy, Aaron Richards and Yelenich, among others, this season is also about stepping up and becoming leaders on the court and setting the example for the next generation that will follow in their footsteps.
“Freshman year we had great seniors like Nate McGree and those guys. And you just take that to heart and you want to be that type of leader they were for you," said senior Luke Heaphy. "You know, be that guy for those younger guys.”
“We’ve got guys with a lot of experience under their belt. And we do have four players who have been playing varsity since they were freshmen and three others who played varsity as sophomores," Kelly said. "So we’ve got guys that have not only had a lot of minutes, but a lot of important minutes, guys who played in state semifinals and championship games.”
Butte Central will tip off the new season against Whitefish at 1 p.m. on Friday in Frenchtown.