BUTTE: Maybe it’s because he’s been involved in Butte’s city championship games as a player and coach for most of his life, but at this point, Butte Central’s Brodie Kelly really sees Tuesday’s upcoming intercity clash with Butte High at the Civic Center as “just another game.”
If anything, it will give the Maroons’ head men’s basketball coach a chance to see how his reigning Class A champion team stacks up against the AA competition.
“We’re going to play a good basketball team on a great stage,” Kelly said at practice last week. “That’s really the most important thing: helping us prepare for what’s next.”
Sure, it may ultimately be a non-conference game, but the annual battle for bragging rights between the Bulldogs and the Maroons is steeped in Mining City history. Butte and Central Butte met every year for more than a century, beginning in 1918.
It took covid-compulsive Class AA teams to cancel all non-conference competition in 2020 to see that century-long streak come to an end.
Crosstown returned in December 2021 where the Maroon Boys defeated Butte 65-37 for their second straight win over the Bulldogs. That runaway win was just one of the highlights of an unforgettable season for Central that culminated in Dougie Peoples hitting a 3-pointer against Lewistown in the Class A championship.
As with last year, Kelly will use Tuesday’s game as a way to gauge how the team shapes up as it prepares for the regular season final stretch and then gears up for postseason tournaments.
“We know that (Butte High) has very good players and they are well trained,” Kelly said. “It will be challenging and that is exactly what we want.”
The Maroons expect to face some fierce competition at Butte High and the Bulldogs looked poised for just that, following a 58-49 win over Helena High on Saturday, where Butte handed the Bengals their first conference loss of the season.
Matt Luedtke, Butte’s fourth-year men’s basketball coach, is still looking for his first win over Central, but said ultimately this game is about the players and showcasing Mining City basketball.
“I feel like it’s the same motivation as any other game,” Luedtke said. “Obviously Crosstown is special because it’s the team from the other side of town. But it’s really more about the kids.”
On the girls’ side, the Bulldogs posted a 52-40 win over the Maroons in their last meeting to extend their series winning streak to four games. Like Luedtke, Butte Head sophomore women’s basketball coach Bryan Arntson acknowledges that this game is about more than streaks and records.
“It’s amazing, it’s a great environment for the community,” Arntson said. “Everybody comes out and supports their teams and supports the kids of Butte. That’s the main thing.”
And at Butte Central, freshman girls’ head coach Quinn Carter, like Kelly, has been involved in the city championships for as long as she can remember as a player, when she was coached by her father Don Peoples Jr. — and assistant. from former head coach Meg Murphy.
But this will be his first inter-city match at the helm, and it’s an experience he’s looking forward to.
“This year is exciting, it’s my first time as a head coach in the Butte High-Butte Central game,” Carter said. “I’ve been a part of this game since I was a kid. So, it’s a new position for me and I’m excited to see what it’s all about on Tuesday.”
Butte High and Butte Central girls give the announcement at the Civic Center at 6 pm and Bulldog and Maroon boys at 7:30 pm