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FRENCHTOWN — In an early season Southwest A matchup, Butte Central handed Frenchtown its first loss of the season, 55-45, Friday night at Frenchtown High School.

Senior Cade Holter led the charge offensively for the Maroons, scoring 11 while junior Barden Harrington added 10 points. Holter scored five of his points during the opening quarter when Butte Central jumped to a 14-10 lead.

“Last year we came down here and they really took it to us,” Holter said. “This year, we wanted to come with a lot of energy. We respect Frenchtown a lot. They’re a great team. So to come out here and get a win means a lot.”

In a battle of two teams that made the State A basketball tournament a year ago, Butte Central came out faster than Frenchtown. The Broncs tied the game 14-14 before the Maroons used a 12-0 run to separate themselves quickly and ended the final five minutes of the half on a 14-2 stretch to go into halftime leading 28-16.

“We were playing together,” Holter said. “No one was playing selfish and we were working as a team better than I think I’ve seen in that quarter. So a lot of props to all of my guys. I’m proud of them. That really made a difference.”

In the third quarter, Butte Central held Frenchtown to only six points once again as Harrington took over, scoring all 10 of his points to pace the Maroons to a 40-22 lead heading into the final frame.

The Broncs’ offense came to life in the fourth quarter. They opened on a 9-1 run to get within 41-31. Junior Hank Rugg knocked down four consecutive free throws and fellow junior Cade Baker added five more points to kick-start the run. However, Butte Central responded with a 7-2 run and used free throws down the stretch to ice the game and improve to 3-0.

“I liked our defensive togetherness and focus,” Butte Central coach Brodie Kelly said. “Collectively the guys did a good job. They have some outstanding offensive players. Overall, they put a lot of pressure on you and guard you the entire length of the court all game and I thought we did a nice job of handling that.”

Defensively, Butte Central was locked in as well. They held Frenchtown’s dynamic scoring duo in twin juniors Cade and Zack Baker in check throughout the game. The brothers led the Broncs in scoring in their previous two games and each averaged 16 points per contest coming in. Cade finished with 11, all of which came in the second half with eight scored in the fourth quarter; Zack was held without a point.

“That’s an awesome duo right there so we knew we had to be locked in on them,” Holter said. “We paid attention to a lot of off-ball defense, helping and crowding lanes. It was incredible. I give a lot of credit to my guys. I was guarding Cade and knowing I had that help meant a lot.”

Sophomore Brandon Finley led Frenchtown in scoring with 12 while Rugg added nine.

Frenchtown fell to 2-1, but both teams look similar in identity. Frenchtown sports one senior — Jared Cole who is recovering from a broken leg from football season — so all of its starters are underclassmen while Butte Central has three but starts only two in Holter and Dylan Sestrich. So youth and growing are a part of the blueprints for both teams as the Class A season gets going before they head off into Christmas break.

“We’re young and I think our nerves got to us a little bit with our first home game,” Frenchtown coach Mark Quinn said. “But I was proud of the boys because they fought back in the second half. It could’ve been a really ugly game but we fought back and made it a competitive game.

“We have some talented kids and we’ll be OK and trust the process and get better.”

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Kyle Hansen covers Griz men's basketball and more for the Missoulian and 406mtsports.com. Email him at kyle.hansen@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @khansen406

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