Beavers chalk up 2 big wins

Dillon’s Brady Richardson floats in for a basket in the Beavers’ 64-48 win over Butte Central on Thursday in Dillon. Jess Alberi photo


It looked like their toughest week of play this season, but the Dillon Beaver boys basketball team came out of last week with a pair of impressive, double-digit wins.

On Thursday, the Beaver boys sent No. 1-ranked Butte Central back up I-15 with a 64-48 loss to think about, and then on Saturday came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to win, 72-62, over the defending state champs in Stevensville. 

Thursday featured a battle of two unbeatens, as Butte Central came into town flying high with its high-scoring offense.

The Maroons started the game by jumping out to a 7-0 lead, forcing Dillon Head Coach Terry Thomas to take an early timeout to try to control the nervous energy of his team.

The Beavers came back out and went on a 22-3 run powered by their defensive play.

“Our full-court pressure helped create a lot of turnovers in the game,” said Thomas. “In our half-court set, we have been able to change up between man and zone, without having defensive breakdowns.”

Dillon’s ability to go 10 deep and still maintain excellent execution again proved critical, as Dillon got good offensive production out of their entire team in the first half against Butte Central.

“One thing I really am excited about is our younger kids coming into games with high energy and making big plays when they need to,” said Dillon’s team captain Troy Scott. 

“As a senior, it’s a good feeling knowing our freshman, sophomores and juniors have the confidence and ability to make great things happen.”

Dillon continued to play stifling defense throughout the first half, with BC getting its only clean looks from the free throw line.

The Beavers held the Maroons to just 16 points in the half after BC’s early run. And as the teams went in at the half, the Beavs held a 35-23 lead in front of a packed crowd that required the the B.W. Lodge Gymnasium bleachers to be pulled out in the upper deck for a basketball game for the first time since Dillon hosted the divisional tournament two years ago.

Many of the fans turned out for a silent auction and BBQ to honor longtime Dillon coach, teacher and mentor Steve Vezina, who seemed to be everywhere as fans waved cardboard cutout renditions of Vez’s face painted up as a member of the band Kiss during last year’s homecoming celebrations.

But even down double digits and with dozens of Vez faces staring down at them, Butte Central was not done. The Maroons began to attack the rim in the second half and pulled to within 7 points with about three minutes left in the third quarter.

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But again the Beavs were able to shut down the BC offense, and go on an 8-point run to end the third quarter with a 49-36 lead.

The Beavers ended the game in the same fashion they had used to gain their lead, shutting down the Maroons with superior hustle and great energy and unselfish offense.

Dillon was led in their 64-48 win by their two seniors, Chance Kluesner, who finished with 10 points and 2 steals, and Troy Scott, who put in 12 points and added a team high 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

“Our two seniors have given the team tremendous leadership,” said Thomas, the Beavs’ much-decorated head coach. “They have done a great job of giving maximum effort and encouraging their teammates to do the same in practice and in the games.

“Troy and Chance are working hard at both ends of the court and on the boards. Their ability to score and their unselfish play help open up scoring for the entire team.”

On Saturday, the Beavs faced another tough matchup against the reigning state champs in Stevensville. 

Although the Yellowjackets endured an interesting start to their week when their accomplished big man Jesse Sims announced that he was transferring to Corvallis, they still pack perhaps the biggest one-two punch in the conference in Zack Gavlak and four-year starter Jared Schultz.

Behind Schultz’s 27 points, Stevi was able to hold back the powerful team attack of the Beavs, and as the fourth quarter started, Dillon found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of being behind by 17 points, 43-60.

But the Beavers didn’t stay down for long. Behind Scott’s 35 points, Dillon mounted an unbelievable comeback, outscoring the Yellowjackets 29-2 in the final period to stay perfect on the year.

“I’m surrounded by a solid, diverse group of players,” said the 6-4 Scott. “They all have the ability to score at any time and hit the open player for easy buckets, and this makes other teams struggle to guard us.

“When all of us play great defense it leads to turnovers, which gives us a lot of scoring opportunities. My teammates do a tremendous job getting me the ball when I’m open and the shots come easy.”

The Beavers defense again was the key in the win, as they forced 22 Stevi turnovers in the game and only allowed 2 points in the fourth quarter.

Coach Thomas’s new style of offense installed this season begins and ends with the defense, and it was proven sound in the heat of battle during his team’s remarkable comeback win.

“I can’t begin to put into words how grateful and fortunate I have been to play for Coach Thomas,” commented Scott, who leads the conference in scoring, averaging 20.9 points per game.

“He has pushed me not only to become a better athlete, but he also expects great things from you in the classroom and wants you to constantly improve on being a better person. I respect him a lot and I appreciate how he holds us accountable for our character and attitude, and by doing this, he makes our team successful.”

The Beavs will head north to take on AA Helena High on Thursday, and then will finish the week back home against Hamilton on Saturday.

“Helena is athletic and aggressive,” said Thomas. “They play a lot of full-court man and pressure the ball. We will have to be fundamentally sound and take care of the ball. Offensively, they attack the basket hard off the dribble and their height will be a challenge to keep off the boards. Defensively, we will have to put pressure on the ball without giving up penetration.”

Dillon def. Butte Central 64-48

Dillon Scoring (64 points): Scott 12, Kluesner 10, J.D. Ferris 8, Richardson 8, Jason Ferris 6, Love 6, Williams 5, Huber 5, Justin Ferris 2, Simpkins 2. 

Three-Point Shooting (3-13): Kluesner 2-3, Love 1-2.

Free Throw Shooting (13-21): Justin Ferris 2-4, J.D. Ferris 2-6, Huber 1-1, Love 1-1, Scott 4-5, Williams 3-4.

Rebounds (24): Scott 7, Williams 5, Jason Ferris 4, J.D. Ferris 3, Love 3.

Assists (17): Scott 7, Kluesner 2, Simpkins 2, Williams 2.

Steals (16): Scott 4, Jason Ferris 4. 

Turnovers (14).


Dillon def. Stevensville 72-62

Dillon Scoring (72): Scott 35, Richardson 9, Kluesner 8, J.D. Ferris 6, Jason Ferris 3, Simpkins 3, Justin Ferris 2, Huber 2, Love 2, Williams 2.

Three-Point Shooting (3-17): Scott 2-5, Simpkins 1-2.

Free-Throw Shooting (27-32): Jason Ferris 1-2, J.D. Ferris 2-2, Kluesner 6-6, Love 2-2, Richardson 3-4, Scott 13-14.

Rebounds (28): Scott 8, Richardson 5, Williams 4, J.D. Ferris 4.

Assists (12): Scott 3, J.D. Ferris 3, Richardson 2.

Steals (10): Williams 3, J.D. Ferris 3.

Turnovers (13).