BUTTE — As the final seconds ticked down in Butte's boys basketball play-in victory over Kalispell Flathead on Thursday, there were plenty of thoughts racing through Matt Luedtke's mind.
"Just pride," said Luedtke, whose Bulldogs knocked off the Braves 65-55 to end Flathead's season while sending Butte to next week's State AA tournament in Great Falls. "I'm just so proud of these kids. They stepped up. We've had a lot of adversity all year. The last few games we've been playing up to our potential and just at the right time."
The win earned Butte back-to-back state tournament berth's in Luedtke's second season while giving the Bulldogs a 3-0 record against the Braves this season. Butte will head to state at 8-7 overall.
Jake Olson led the way with a game-high 22 points after being held scoreless in the first quarter where the Braves outscored Butte 16-6 before the Bulldogs flipped the script by outpacing the Braves 21-11 in the second quarter. Billy Kelly added 14 points and Kenley Leary added 13.
The Braves, who end their season at 6-9 overall, were paced by 14 points apiece from Hunter Hickey and Joston Cripe.
Luedtke said his team's focus now shifts to preparing for its opening-round game on March 10.
"It's been a fun journey," Luedtke said. "We've had some ups and downs. The downs are pretty low but the ups are worth it."