BUTTE — Fifth-year Butte High boys basketball head coach Matt Luedtk was optimistic about his team's progress as the its season opener on the road against Bozeman approached.
But the Hawks — after storming to a 77-40 win — quickly showed him that his team still has plenty of room for growth.
"We were feeling pretty good until Friday when we got whipped by Bozeman," said Luedtke. "They're really talented and we didn't show up to play. I do think they're really good but we didn't play to what we're capable of."
It was one of Butte's four non-conference contests in the month of December and the Bulldogs now turn their attention to their home opener against Belgrade on Friday.
"It's just another opportunity to get better," said senior Bo Demarais. "This week just gotta keep working and move on to the next one."
Butte is coming off its fourth straight trip to the Class AA tournament, with this latest trip seeing the Bulldogs bowing out after an 0-2 run, including a loss to Bozeman in the first round.
With players like Jace Stenson (12.4 points last season) and Cameron Gurnsey (10.1 ppg) now graduated, the Bulldogs will be looking a for a boost in production from senior like Demarais and Ruesso Batterman.
But the Bulldogs do return their top scorer in sophomore Hudson Luedtke, who averaged 15.1 points per game last season and earned All-State accolades as a freshman. He's expecting to have an even bigger outing this season.
"I feel a lot more confident," Hudson said. "I've been in the gym so hopefully I can help my team win some more games this year."
Said Matt, Hudson's father: "I think he's twice as good as he was last year. So we're looking to him to continue where he left off last year."
The Bulldogs play the remainder of their non-conference games at home — Belgrade on Friday, Dillon on Dec. 19 and then its crosstown matchup against Butte Central on Dec. 22. Butte will be looking for its first win over the Maroons since 2019.
The Bulldogs know they need to make the most of this three-game home stand as they look toward Western AA play beginning against Missoula Hellgate at home on Jan. 4.
"We need to step up today in practice and the rest of the week," said Batterman. "Make next week better for us and just keep getting better."