BILLINGS — Billings Central led by as many as 11 in the first quarter but had to battle to hang on to defeat Havre and advance to the semifinal round of the Eastern A boys tournament Thursday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
Meanwhile, Hardin turned the tables on Miles City with a 51-39 victory and the Bulldogs moved into the semis. Hardin lost both regular-season matchups to the Cowboys by a combined 11 points.
Billings Central 49, Havre 46
The Rams couldn't miss early, and found themselves ahead 13-2 with 4:16 left in the first quarter. But Havre didn't go quietly, eventually storming back to take a two-point advantage midway through the third. It was tight all the way to the end, with the Blue Ponies trailing by three in the final seconds with a chance to tie. A Jaden Sanchez steal sealed the outcome for the Rams.
Kyler Northrop had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Central, while Sanchez had 10 points and five steals. Kaden McMinn scored eight points for the Rams, who made just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc. Central advanced to play juggernaut Lewistown in Friday's semifinals at 6:30 p.m.
Tre Gary had 10 points to lead Havre, while Terry Crawford added nine. The Blue Ponies were outrebounded 38 to 23.
Hardin 51, Miles City 39
Proving the regular season doesn't mean much come tournament time, Hardin put four players in double figures to beat Miles City despite falling to the Cowboys twice previously. Kingston Hugs led the way with 13 points, while Antonio Espinoza had 11. Elias Stops At Pretty Places and Chance Three Irons each had 10.
Miles City fell behind in the second quarter and was unable to regain a lead. Ryder Lee had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Dylan Gundlach added 11. But the Cowboys shot just 28% from the floor including 1 for 21 from the 3-point line (0 for 12 in the second half).
Hardin will face Glendive in Friday's semifinals at 8 p.m. for the chance to earn a berth at the Class A state tournament in Bozeman.