LAUREL - This time, a last-second shot didn't decide the boys basketball outcome between Billings Central and Laurel.
The Rams took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter then held off a late Laurel charge to win 52-45 and clinch the regular season division title. Cayden Merchant led all scorers with 17 points for the Rams. A.J. Ulrichs finished with 14 including a buzzer-beating 3 to end the third.
Laurel used a late run capped by Eli Weisenberger's deep corner 3-pointer to cut Central's lead to four with under one minute left. The Rams then went cold from the free throw line missing five straight, but the Locomotives would get no closer than four. Konnor Gregerson was Laurel's high scorer with 14 points.
Laurel won the first meeting last month at First Interstate Arena on Kyson Moran's follow shot as time expired. That turned out to be Central's only Southeast A loss of the regular season as they finish 7-1 in league.
The Locomotives will enter next week's divisonal tournament with a 5-3 mark. They host Lewistown in their regular season finale Friday night.