BUTTE — Dougie Peoples and the Butte Central boys basketball team headed into this season looking to rack up wins and get back to the state tournament. Claiming a No. 1 state seed was just a byproduct of that focus and determination.
"It feel great and we worked for that the whole year and that was our goal," Peoples said at the Maroon Activities Center. "It's just a bonus that we got the one seed out of the west but we know we gotta just keep grinding and we gotta stay focused. There's still bigger things to accomplish."
The Maroons, whose lone defeat of the season was a January conference loss to Dillon, now set their sights on returning to the State A title game two years removed from advancing to the championship only to see it called off. Central will open state on Thursday in Missoula against the winner of Frenchtown vs. Havre.
Peoples, a junior who has been the top Class A scorer the past two seasons as he's averaging over 22 points per game, has been the focal point of Central's potent offense. And he only continued to improve in the postseason, pouring in 39 points in the Western A semifinals and 28 in the divisional title game.
His first taste of basketball was a child at a Knight of Columbus kids basketball league, run by longtime KC member Bernie Boyle.
"We were always joking around with Bernie cause I would always have him tie my shoes," Peoples said with a grin.
But once Peoples figured out how to lace up, he became pretty tough to contain.
"That kid has earned everything that he's got," Central head coach Brodie Kelly said. "There's a reason he's an outstanding shooter. He's lived in this gym since he was a kid and I'm happy to see it paying off."
But ever humble, Peoples stressed the role that his teammates have in providing him ample scoring opportunities.
"They're the ones that are setting me screens," Peoples said. "They're the ones getting me open, they do the work and sometimes it leads to my success. But they're the ones doing the hard work."
The Maroons now look to improve on last season's outing at state where they came up one game short of the consolation final.
"Our expectations are very high and I hope we achieve it," Peoples said. "We've just got to stay focused."