Last year's City Championship game saw the Butte High boys' chance to collect a fourth-straight victory over crosstown foe Butte Central evaporate amid a flurry of red-hot shooting from the Maroons as Central rolled to a 57-39 victory.
Then-junior Maroon Dan McCloskey leveled the most damage against the Bulldogs, pouring in a game-high 19 points to help Central ice the win.
In a reversal of fortune, McCloskey will be suiting up in purple and white this time around.
“I guess it makes it more fun," said McCloskey, a forward who transferred to Butte high last year, of facing his former team. "I like challenges and Central is a good team this year. I’m looking forward to it."
Luke Powers, Butte's fourth-year head coach who is 2-1 against Central, knows there's one thing he'd change if he could get a another crack at last season's loss to Central.
“I would have had McCloskey transfer here sooner,” Powers said with a chuckle. “He had 19, Central beat us by 18.”
Averaging a solid 10 point per game, McCloskey has clearly found a quick rapport with his new team and system.
“I like this team," he said. "I love it, I’m having a lot of fun."
McCloskey not only brings reliable shooting to Butte but also senior experience, something the Bulldogs lacked last season when they only had one senior suiting up.
This time around, the Bulldogs have an abundance of senior talent including the guard trio of Trevyn Roth, Kash Kelly and Clay Ferguson.
Looking back at last year's loss to Central, a game in which the Maroons built a 24-17 halftime lead and limited Butte to four points in the third quarter, Ferguson wished the Bulldogs would have found a more explosive start.
“I wish we would have just started quicker," Ferguson said. "In games we start quick we tend to keep that energy up. I feel like we just kind of got down after we were losing a little bit. We dug ourselves in a hole and never got out.”
Perhaps the biggest woe for Butte against Central last season was cold shooting from beyond the arc — the Bulldogs mustered just two 3-pointers on 23 attempts.
“They got away from us in the second half but we were taking frantic rush shots," Powers said. "I think we’re a little better offensively, a little more mature offensively and we think we’re going to have a real good competitive game.”
With his final crosstown rivalry looming, Ferguson said he's looking to leave it all on the court and make it a memorable game.
"This is always a game that everybody keeps close to their heart," Ferugson said. "There’s always that chip on your shoulder that we keep from last year that we're trying to build on this year.
“Hopefully there's just some good team play and we just try to win."
On paper it may go down as a non-conference game but, as someone who has both played in and coached in this century-old rivalry, Powers knows that there's something more at stake.
“You can’t put too much emphasis on it, but at the same time we understand that bragging rights are on the line," Powers said. "It’s something that you’ll always remember.”