BUTTE — Butte Central’s Kloie Thatcher has a lot to play for.
Thatcher’s older sister, Alex, died tragically in an accident in Miles City last May. It has brought new meaning and added purpose to the star guard’s senior year.
“There’s a lot more in this game than just a basketball game for me,” she said. “I play every game for her. Usually, she would text me before every game and just say, ‘Hit a three for me,’ so, every time I hit something, it goes straight for her.”
All season, and especially in the playoffs, she has been hitting everything. She scored 53 points in the final two games of the Western A divisional tournament, garnering unanimous MVP honors.
“She just took complete control of the entire team and she did what was necessary for us to win,” said head coach Meg Murphy.
Through her three-plus seasons wearing the Maroon and White, she has more than earned the confidence of her teammates.
“I knew we — as a team — wanted to win, and I knew she wanted to win,” guard Olivia Bolton said. “I knew she would find a way for us — as a team — to come together and have a couple of good games.”
For her maturity and ability to lead her team through her loss off the court, she has also gained her teammates’ respect.
“I think she’s a very strong person. Personally, I think it would be very hard for me,” Bolton said of Thatcher’s performance this season. “When I see her do that, I almost look up to her in a way.”
Central has accomplished plenty this season, but there’s still one more title up for grabs — a Class A state championship.
“Going in with that mentality, that there’s nothing to lose and all we can do is give our best — that’s the way we have to go with it,” Thatcher said.
Whether it’s for herself, teammates, or Alex, everything will be left on the floor when the Maroons begin their state tournament run on March 8 in Great Falls.