BUTTE — The Butte High boys trailed by double digits after one quarter and their hopes of booking a trip to state were in peril.
But with their season on the line last Thursday against Kalispell Flathead in a Western AA boys basketball play-in game, the Bulldogs steadied the ship, cruised to a 65-55 victory and can now turn their
heading to Great Falls where they will play in their second straight State AA tournament.
"Everyone kept their confidence and didn't get down," said senior Cael Stenson. "We bounced back from it and came out on top."
Butte, which enters as the third seed out of the Western AA, will play its opening-round game on Wednesday against Billings Skyview (No. 2 East) at 5:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs are familiar with the Falcons. Skyview topped Butte 53-41 in the first round at state last season to drop Butte into the consolation bracket. There, the Bulldogs were knocked out of the tournament by way of a 61-41 loss to Helena Capital.
But this is different team, and one that not only recognizes the significance of heading to state in back-to-back seasons but believes it has the ability to make some noise.
"Two years in a row, it's a huge deal," said senior Jake Olson, a Montana football commit who leads the Bulldogs in scoring. "I think we have a great group of seniors that all deserved it. I think our whole team deserved it.
"We show that we can do what we want to when we get aggressive, when we get physical."
Butte looked to be fading as it headed into its regular-season finale on a three-game skid after winning its previous three games. But the Bulldogs pulled out an upset against Missoula Sentinel, toppling the previously unbeaten Spartans 73-64.
It was a memorable win, but the focus for Butte now turns to Skyview.
"One game at at time," said Butte coach Matt Luedtke. "We're going to focus on our first-round game and hopefully play our best and hopefully come out on top."