BUTTE — Butte Central boys basketball coach Brodie Kelly figures he's watched the replay of Dougie People's Class A title-clinching triple against Lewistown hundreds of times.
He's had plenty of time to analyze that play and marvel at the sequence of events that led to that unforgettable moment.
Earlier in the game, Kelly figured he'd run a scripted play if his team was looking for a go-ahead bucket late in the fourth. But as the game wore on he knew that if it came down to his squad attempting a game-winning shot, he really had no choice but to scrap the playbook and give the ball to the top scorer in Class A
"We had a couple of plays that we though we were going to go to in crunch time that just didn't materialize," said Kelly. "That and the fact that Dougie was just on fire in the fourth quarter. Just put it in his hands and we didn't want him to give it up."
Wow…Butte Centrals Dougie Peoples at the buzzer!— Brandon Sullivan (@BSullytyme) March 13, 2022
Maroons win it 61-58.
Peoples finishes with 37 points and is an instant Butte America legend. pic.twitter.com/LFFPjhQ13Y
The Maroons went with the hot hand, and it paid off in spades with Central hoisting the State A trophy as outright champions two seasons after having to settle for a co-championship with Hardin.
Eight months later, Central is still basking in the glow of that victory but at the same time remaining focused as it gears up for its title defense, beginning with its season opener against Lewistown.
The Maroons are also taking a realist approach leading up to the start of the season as they realize this team will look a lot different after graduating five seniors, including all-conference guard Bryson Sestrich.
Peoples, now a senior alongside Kyle Holter and Eric Loos, may have etched his name into Mining City sports history, but he's less concerned with that and just simply glad to be back on the hardwood.
"I'm just happy to get back on the court with my team and have a good season," Peoples said. "We all understand that there's plenty of other great teams out there and we could get beat on any given day, just like any other team. We just got to take it one game at a time."
Central has a lot to get done over the next weeks in preparation for it's Dec. 9 season-opening rematch with Lewistown. But they'll head into a long season with plenty of confidence, and one of the best shooters in the state.
"I'm really excited for the first game," Kelly said. "I love this time of year. I like the three weeks of kind of building a team. This is really where we build our foundation."
Said Peoples: "I think that the first game is always such a relief cause we practice for so many days without a game. It'll be fun to just go battle it out with the people that I love and want to do the whole season with."