Billings Central and Havre both won in blowout fashion on Thursday afternoon to set up a meeting in Friday night's Eastern A boys basketball divisional semifinals.
Billings Central 57, Lewistown 31
Both teams came out of the gates firing, as Billings Central built a 20-11 lead after one quarter. It was all Rams from there, though, as they led by as many as 32 points en route to a 57-31 win in the first round of the Eastern A boys divisional tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
Cayden Merchant poured in 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, as the Rams blew the game open in the second quarter. A Clarence Stewart 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Central a 33-13 lead at the break.
The Rams shot 50% from the field for the game and held Lewistown under 40% and also forced 18 turnovers. Lewistown hit just 1 of its 11 attempts from beyond the arc.
Merchant was one of three Rams in double figures, as Malachi Stewart added 13 points and five assists and Brock Blatter had 10 points and six rebounds. Blatter and Merchant combined to shoot 13 of 16 from the field.
Lewistown was led by Jaylen Robinson's seven points.
Billings Central will play Havre in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday, while Lewistown will play Livingston at 2 p.m. Friday in Lockwood.
Havre 69, Livingston 47
Havre was mighty impressive in its first-round win over Livingston, especially in the first half. The Blue Ponies built a 25-8 lead after one and led 46-25 at halftime on their way to an emphatic 69-47 win over the Rangers.
Havre buried seven first-half 3-pointers as it put on an absolute clinic shooting the ball in the first 16 minutes.
The Blue Ponies were able to coast to victory in the second half, but they sure didn't cool down. They hit 9 of 15 shot attempts and wound up shooting 55.6% from the floor for the game, including 9 of 22 from downtown.
Isaac Pedraza led Havre with 16 points, but the Blue Ponies had four players in double figures. Josh Warp and Caden Jenkins each had 11 and Max Olson had 10. Ben Nelson led Livingston with eight points.
Havre will face Billings Central in Friday's semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Livingston will play Lewistown in loser-out action Friday at 2 p.m. in Lockwood.