BELGRADE — The energy was high inside the Belgrade Special Events Center for the semifinal round of the District 5B boys and girls basketball tournaments on Friday.
On the boys side of the bracket, top-seeded Three Forks would square off against fifth-seeded Big Timber. The winner of that game would face the winner of the other semifinal between No. 2-seed Manhattan and sixth-seeded Whitehall, which upset third-seeded Jefferson in Thursday's opening round.
The girls bracket would feature top-seeded Big Timber tipping off against No. 4-seed Jefferson. The winner would await the winner of the second semifinal between No. 2-seed Whitehall and No. 3-seed Three Forks.
Three Forks boys 67, Big Timber 56
Big Timber came out hot to start this contest and put the top-seeded Wolves on the ropes early. The Sheepherders would ride that momentum all the way to halftime with a 26-21 lead. But whatever was said in the Three Forks locker room kick-started the Wolves in the second half. With about four minutes to play, the game was knotted at 30-all, which marked the last time the Sheepherders had any chance of taking the lead. From there Three Forks unleashed its motor, Micaiah Hauser, in transition and from beyond the arc to seal the game midway through the fourth. Hauser dropped a game-high 32 points in the 67-56 win over Big Timber.
Manhattan boys 51, Whitehall 31
Whitehall upset third-seeded Jefferson on Thursday in the opening round and it looked to do that again against No. 2-seed Manhattan. The Trojans kept up with the Tigers for much of the first half, but a few late shots from Colter Barta and Caden Holgate lifted Manhattan to a 20-12 halftime lead. From there the Tigers would outscore Whitehall 31-19 en route to a 51-31 win. That sets up a huge hampionship showdown between Three Forks and Manhattan. That game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Big Timber girls 52, Jefferson 47
On paper it would've appeared that top-seeded Big Timber would run with the game in its matchup with Jefferson in the first semifinal on the girls side of the District 5B bracket. But Friday night's game was anything but a runaway. Jefferson hung around with the Sheepherders and even managed to capture the lead late in the fourth quarter. All signs seemed to be pointing to an upset in favor of the Panthers, but Big Timber had other ideas. With less than two minutes left to play in the game, the Herders took back the lead and would never relinquish it from there on out. It was a great game with an exciting finish, but when the final horn blew the scoreboard read Big Timber 52, Jefferson 47.
Three Forks girls 36, Whitehall 25
No. 2-seed Whitehall and No. 3-seed Three Forks capped off the night. The Trojans jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, completely minimizing every offensive weapon Three Forks had, keeping the Wolves scoreless throughout much of the quarter. But the Wolves broke through in the second quarter to make it a tie ballgame heading into halftime. From there, Three Forks cruised on both sides of the court, deflating any momentum Whitehall could muster. The Wolves ended up winning by double digits, 36-25, and they'll get top-seeded Big Timber in Saturday's championship, which is set to tip off following the boys game.