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Butte Central's Dougie Peoples cements place in Mining City sports lore

Posted at 7:31 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 22:13:36-04

BUTTE — On Saturday night, a lanky kid from Butte became an instant hometown hero with one ice-cold shot.

In a tied game against Lewistown in the State A championship, Butte Central junior Dougie Peoples let the clock wind down and then fired off a 30-foot three-point attempt.

Days later, what happened next is still somewhat blurry to him.

"I can't even remember it really," Peoples said on Monday at the Maroon Activities Center. "I just remember right when it went in I looked over and all the Central fans had their hands in the air screaming."

That screaming was because Peoples' shot was good and it sent the Maroons to an unforgettable 61-58 victory over the Golden Eagles to clinch Central's first outright championship since head coach Brodie Kelly was a Maroon in 1992.

Kelly and Peoples shared a long embrace in the game's aftermath, the coach who has been a part of Butte Central for over three decades and the player who had just enshrined himself in Mining City sports lore.

"It was surreal," Kelly said. "I think when he his the shot, you could see his own reaction. He was stunned. And I jumped up and just saw him and I was like 'Oh my god, this just happened, you gotta be kidding me.'"

Central claimed a co-championship in 2020 after its title game against Hardin was canceled shortly after the semifinals. The accomplishment was still tremendous, but it left that team and its nine seniors with a lifelong question of "What if?"

With Peoples' fearless shot, the Maroons claimed their seventh state championship in program history. And on Monday, Central got to take victory lap around town aboard a Butte-Silver Bow firetruck. This time, there was no uncertainty, no second guessing, no doubt.

"It still breaks my heart, two years ago we didn't get to have that experience with those players that year," Kelly said. "I'll never short change that accomplishment whatsoever but to actually go through with it this year awesome.

"And one of the great things about it was so many of those players from that team two years ago were there for it. Just kind of got to experience what a state championship game is all about."

Peoples was a freshman when the 2020 team saw its chance to play for a state title jettisoned, and being able to share a championship victory with those players was deeply meaningful to him.

"Right after I made that shot, the 2020 team, it seemed like they were all there and they went right down to the court," Peoples said. "A lot of them had tears in their eyes and I gave them all a big hug. And it was just a great moment to share with those guys."

Peoples may have delivered the play of a lifetime while donning maroon and silver, but he said there was a number of Butte High supporters at Dahlberg Arena cheering him on and that the win wasn't just for Central but for the whole town of Butte.

"What makes it so special is the Butte community and Butte Central and all the great people around me that are supporting me and are making it such a huge deal," Peoples said. "Butte's just amazing. It's the best place to be. It's the best town in America."