Leskovar Athletes of the Week: Alivia Cox, Derick Cunningham
East Middle School eighth graders Alivia Cox and Derick Cunningham have been selected the Leskovar Honda Athletes of the Week.
Both student-athletes compete in multiple sports in East’s Unified Sports Program.
Cox, who recently completed her second season of Unified basketball, takes home the girls’ honor.
“Alivia is a player with a strong mindset,” coach Kelci Thatcher said. “She always has the desire to get better. She always works hard and is never satisfied with where she’s at. Her determination is a quality that is unmatched. Regardless of the outcome, she was always there to win.”
Thatcher said Cox’s character is unmatched.
“She is a great teammate and friend,” Thatcher said. “She always treats others the way she wants to be treated. She is a true champion and has the pride of a lion.”
Cunningham, who also completed his second season of Unified basketball, receives the boys’ accolade.
“Derek has been a great teammate and leader for the Butte Eagles,” Thatcher said. “He is always supportive, brings a high little level of energy, and his overall enthusiasm is contagious. Derek has great court vision, using his height to his advantage to drain any open shot from the elbow or make a nice pass to an open teammate.”
Cunningham also participates in track at East.
“Again, he uses his long legs and height advantage to help him run fast and throw far,” Thatcher said. “Derek always leads by example, setting the bar high for his teammates.”
Leskovar Honda, home of the 20-year, 200,000-mile warranty, teamed up with the ButteCast to honor the finest student-athletes from the Mining City in an effort to encourage more children to get up, get out and try all kinds of sports and activities.
Stouts For Routes event set for March 24 at Butte Brewing
The Highlands Cycling Club and Copper Sprockets Youth Cycling Team will hold its Stouts for Routes fundraising event March 24 at Butte Brewing.
The event, which will run from 6 to 9 p.m., will feature a nacho bar and homemade deserts.
Cost is $10 per individual or $25 per family for food.
Annual Membership renewals $35 (single) $50 (family) get a pint glass and drink token, along with HCC merchandise.
Anyone interested in the Highlands Cycling Club or the Copper Sprockets is invited for a night of great food, time spent with friends and updates on HCC trail building projects.
The night will include an interactive game show featuring the Sprockets, items will be raffled off, and Sprockets and HCC merchandise will be available for sale.
Click here for more information about the Highlands Cycling Club.
KC basketball schedule
Following is the Knights of Columbus Athletic Club’s four-man basketball schedule for the week of March 20.
6 p.m. — Poi Time vs. OFU
7 p.m. — Longie Trucking vs. Roll Diggs
8 p.m. — Dream Team vs. Bomb Squad
9 p.m. — Rosary Rattlers vs. Parish
6 p.m. — Crib Crew vs. Hoopin Heathens
7 p.m. — Roll Diggs vs. Logan’s
8 p.m. — Logan’s vs. Towel Boys
9 p.m. — ButteCast vs. Bomb Squad
6 p.m. — Bomb Squad vs. Rosary Rattlers
7 p.m. — OFU vs. Dream Team
8 p.m. — Fighting Irish vs. ButteSports
9 p.m. — ButteCast vs. Parish
7 p.m. — Hoopin Heathens vs. Fighting Irish
8 p.m. — Longie Trucking vs. Poi Time
9 p.m. — Towel Boys vs. ButteSports
Podcast No. 67: Tom Powers
If you never heard Tom Powers and his band Dublin Gulch play on St. Patrick’s Day on Butte, you are missing out.
You can also right that wrong Friday when Dublin Gulch plays at the Butte Depot following the parade. Showtime is expected to be about 1 p.m.
The band will also play at 6:30 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center.
For 30 years, Tom Powers has led the local band that is as Butte as it comes. The band has a seemingly endless catalog of Irish songs. They also play a bunch of originals, including Tap ’Er Light. That song, which was written and record about the M&M shortly before the iconic Butte bar burned down, can be heard at the end of this podcast.
For more of the band’s music go to DublinGluch.com.
First, listen in as Tom discusses his band and what it is like to play on St. Patrick’s Day in Butte. Listen to him talk about when his father was the mayor of Butte and going to a handful of schools before graduating from Butte Central in 1976.
Listen to him discuss his college days and his influences in Irish music.
Like his band Dublin Gulch, Tom Powers is a true Butte treasure. You better believe you will see me at the Butte Depot singing and swaying them on St. Paddy’s Day.
Luedtke makes All-Tourney team
Butte High freshman Hudson Luedtke was named the the Class AA Boys’ Basketball State All-Tournament team.
The list of 12 boys and 12 girls honored was released to the media today.
Luedtke made the team after scoring 35 points in two games in the tournament, which was held at the Butte Civic Center. He also dished out five assists, grabbed eight rebounds and collected two steals.
Missoula Hellgate’s Connor Dick, a senior with deep roots in the Mining City, was named boys’ MVP after leading the Knights to the team title.
On the girls’ side, Layla Bauman of state champion Billings West took home MVP honors.
Peoples wins Gatorade
CHICAGO — Butte Central has its first Gatorade winner.
Dougie Peoples, who wrapped up his remarkable basketball career at the Class A State tournament in Bozeman last weekend, was named the Gatorade Montana Boys Basketball Player of the Year. The organization, which is in its 38thyear of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, announced the award this morning.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Peoples as Montana’s best high school boys basketball player. Peoples joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Chet Holmgren (2020-21, Minnehaha Academy, Minn.), Trae Young (2016-17, Norman North High School, Ok.). Jayson Tatum (2015-16, Chaminade College Preparatory School, Mo.), and Karl-Anthony Towns (2013-14 & 2012-13, St. Joseph High School, N.J.).
Peoples joins Butte High’s Scott Ferguson, Gary Kane and Lexie Nelson (basketball), Dalton Daum (track, Jaimee Paffhausen (softball) and Tommy Mellott (football) as winners of the prestegous award.
Peoples closed the season with 616 points in 25 games. He scored 629 in 27 games as a junior, leading the Maroons to the Class A State title.
Peoples, who did not score a varsity point as a freshman, closed his career with 1,683 points. Only Nelson, who scored 1,696 from 2007-10, scored more points playing high school hoops in the Mining City. Peoples also owns Butte Central Catholic’s single-game record for points scored in a game (44).
Peoples has volunteered locally with the Special Olympics and on behalf of his church parish. He also serves as Butte Central Catholic’s student body president and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“He is one of the most unique players I’ve seen over the last few years,” Hamilton head coach Travis Blome said in a statement. “He can score in a variety of ways and has been the hardest person to defend in my coaching tenure.”
Peoples has maintained an A average in the classroom. He remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
Being a Gatorade Player of the Year means paying it forward for the next generation. Through Gatorade’s Play it Forward initiative, every Player of the Year receives a grant to give to one of Gatorade’s social impact partners, supporting Gatorade’s ambition to fuel the future of sport. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.
For nearly 40 years, Gatorade has honored high school athletes at the top of their game as teammates, supporting their communities and achieving academic success. From CEOs and coaches to star athletes and community leaders, Gatorade Player of the Year winners showcase the power of sport.
Peoples made an appearance on the ButteCast in October.
Podcast No. 66: Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy was selected to serve as the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day Parade marshal, and he doesn’t know why.
Everyone else knows why he was chosen, however. That is because Jim McCarthy represents everything that is good about the Mining City.
If Jim isn’t volunteering somewhere, he is volunteering somewhere else. He retired from Butte-Silver Bow in 2008. For 35 years, he worked in the parks and roads department. Since his retirement, he has been volunteering.
He is retired, but he has to use a day planer to keep track of his busy schedule.
You can find him at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, the Butte History Club, giving walking tours, working ghost tours or giving his time for one of the many causes he has championed.
Jim doesn’t consider himself a “sports guy,” but helped keep the Butte Sports Hall of Fame going after the passing of Pat Kearney in 2014.
Listen in as Jim talks about his career with the county and his many, many volunteer projects. Listen to hear why Jim will not be dressed up fancy for the parade and why he will not be waiving elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist.
Listen to hear Jim describe the greatness of the Mining City, and hear why he was the perfect choice as parade marshal.
Best days are still ahead for Oredigger Caleb Bellach
My friend KP had a lot better reaction to the injury than I did.
When I saw Montana Tech star Caleb Bellach hit the floor, my immediate response was heartbreak. Bellach, the Frontier Conference Most Valuable Player, twisted his knee, and I just knew it was an ACL tear.
You could tell by the way he went down that it wasn’t good. When he couldn’t get up, it was devastating.
Bellach was helped to the athletic trainer’s bench, and that is what I watched as the Orediggers continued their first-round game of the NAIA National Tournament against Westmont (California) at the HPER Complex.
Tech was playing well, but I could hardly think about that. I was just hoping my diagnosis from afar was off and Bellach would return to the court like Paul Pierce did against the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
When Bellach, a great basketball player and a really nice person, left the gym with trainers, it was full-on depression.
Bellach returned to the bench in the second half and sat, with his knee in a big brace, and with his injured leg elevated and resting on a chair. He tried to cheer on his team, but you could see the heartbreak on his face.
The MVP had the hood of his grey hoodie pulled up, almost as if he was trying to not be seen.
Before the game ended, he left the gym again, using crutches while being assisted by an athletic trainer.
Watching tournament basketball is not always easy. The back-and-forth emotions of the game can be tough to take.
You go from being down and out to euphoria, then back to down and out again. With Bellach on the trainer’s table, there was no possibility for euphoria.
I watched the action from my seat in the bleachers across the from the Tech bench. After Bellach left the arena for the first time, and I looked to my right to see KP standing on the floor. He got to the gym a few minutes late, and he missed the injury.
“I think Bellach just tore his ACL,” I said to KP, with doom and gloom in my eyes. “On the second offensive possession of the game, Tech just lost its MVP.”
The whole “next-man-up” philosophy never sat well with me. Even if my team is winning, I have a hard time enjoying the game if their best player is injured.
I was thinking that the most anticipated game in nearly 40 years for the Montana Tech men’s basketball program had turned into a nightmare. The Frontier Conference champions were going to be one and done. They had no shot at Kansas City.
KP, though, had a better perspective.
“This team isn’t one player,” KP said. “They’ll step up and rise to the occasion.”
He specifically mentioned Camdyn LaRance, and KP was on the money.
The former Missoula Hellgate Knight came off the bench to match teammate Asa Williams with a team-high 15 points. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists as Tech beat Westmont 83-69 in the packed arena.
KP might be onto something, I thought. But Tech still had to play a very good team from Thomas Moore University the next night with a trip to Kansas City and the Sweet 16 on the line.
I thought the Orediggers had a chance to win, but I would have felt a lot better if they had Bellach in the lineup.
Thomas Moore led most of the night, but the Orediggers would not go away. Eventually, Tech won a 77-72 overtime thriller.
Michael Ure scored 22 points, and Williams tossed in 18. Hayden Diekhans, a redshirt freshman who is making Montana and Montana State look silly for not signing him, posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Diekhans, like always, also played lights-out defense.
Simply put, it was the most fun I had watching a basketball game in a long, long time. It was an absolute blast.
The atmosphere was electric, thanks largely to a bunch of young boys who outcheered the Oredigger students before rushing the court at the end of the game.
The Orediggers were going to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
Even Bellach was having fun. He cheered on his teammates the whole game, clapping with his arms above his head after every basket or forced turnover.
This time, his hood was pulled down.
The injury to Bellach is still devastating. The timeline for an ACL is nine months — if everything goes perfectly. Odell Beckham Jr. could not make it back in time to play at the end of this past season after tearing one of his in the previous Super Bowl.
You are looking at more than a year for your leg to be back to normal, if it is ever back to normal.
But, as KP pointed out, the Orediggers are so much more than one player.
Without Bellach last night, the Orediggers knocked of William Penn, the No. 1 seed in the Cramer Quadrant, in another overtime thriller, this time 79-78.
The Orediggers will play in the round of eight on Wednesday. They are three wins away from bringing home the national championship.
This Montana Tech team does not have a single senior on the roster, and they still will enter the 2023-24 season as the odds-on favorite to win another Frontier Conference championship. With Coach Adam Hiatt, the Orediggers are on solid ground for, hopefully, years to come.
Losing the conference MVP and then going to the Elite Eight — at least — at the National Tournament is a sign that your program is in amazingly great shape.
It might be next January, or it could even be during the 2024-25 season, but Bellach will eventually return to add a weapon to an already-potent team.
If you know anything about the former Manhattan Christian star whose parents were both standouts for the Orediggers, you know Bellach will come back better than ever.
Before the Orediggers left to Kansas City, Hiatt took to Facebook to share his thoughts about Bellach.
“We love this guy so much,” the coach said. “He is a phenomenal basketball player, but even better man. He is beloved by our kids, his teammates and the community. There is no doubt his best days are ahead of him.”
The same thing could be said about Hiatt’s Orediggers.
It just took me a little time and some great words from KP to see that.
— Bill Foley, who is too much of a basket case to watch basketball, can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. Listen to the ButteCast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
Izzy Dawson, Kyle Holter named Leskovar Athletes of the Week
East Middle School seventh grader Izzy Dawson and Butte Central senior Kyle Holter are the Leskovar Honda Athletes of the Week.
Dawson takes home the girls’ honor after completing basketball and wrestling seasons at East. She competes in the Unified Sports program at the school.
“Izzy is a hard-working, determined young girl,” coach Kelci Thatcher said of Dawson. “She is kind and caring, always offering a helping hand to others as she has a great smile. Izzy was a leader on the basketball floor, both often civilly and defensively. She was the leading score for the Eagles. She also did a great job of getting the ball to her teammates.”
Holter is the boys’ honoree after helping lead the Maroons to the third-place trophy at the Class A State tournament in Bozeman. Holter scored in double figures in all four of BC’s games as the Maroons closed the season at 23-2. Over the past two seasons, Holter and the Maroons went 49-3.
As a freshman, Holter played on BC’s 2020 State championship team. He started his last three seasons, and he will go down as perhaps the best high school defensive player the Mining City has ever seen. He helped the Maroons take home the 2022 title in Missoula.
Leskovar Honda, home of the 20-year, 200,000-mile warranty, is honoring the finest student-athletes from the Mining City in an effort to encourage more children to get up, get out and try all kinds of sports and activities.
KC basketball schedule
Following is the Knights of Columbus Athletic Club’s four-man basketball schedule for the week of March 13.
6 p.m. — Poi Time vs. Parish
7 p.m. — OFU vs. ButteSports
8 p.m. — ButteSports vs. Crib Crew
9 p.m. — Hoopin’ Heathens vs. Bomb Squad
6 p.m. — Roll Diggs vs. Parish
7 p.m. — Longie Trucking vs. Logan’s
8 p.m. — Logan’s vs. Rosary Rattlers
9 p.m. — Towel Boys vs. Poi Time
6 p.m. — OFU vs. Hoopin’ Heathens
7 p.m. — Dream Team vs. Fighting Irish
8 p.m. — ButteCast vs. Longie Trucking
9 p.m. — Towel Boys vs. Rosary Rattlers
7 p.m. — Roll Diggs vs. Bomb Squad
8 p.m. — ButteCast vs. Fighting Irish
9 p.m. — Dream Team vs. Rosary Rattlers