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Eastern A boys: Defending state champ Lewistown, Billings Central to meet for crown

Lewistown-Glendive boys.jpg
Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 23, 2024

BILLINGS — One team is currently holding on to its state championship spoils. The other is fighting to win theirs back. They'll meet Saturday for the Eastern A divisional boys basketball crown.

Defending division and state champ Lewistown played its way into Saturday's title game with a 44-28 semifinal victory Friday over Glendive, while Billings Central, chasing its first state championship since 2021, marched on with a 60-42 semifinal rout of Havre.

By winning, each team secured a berth to the Class A state tournament in two weeks in Butte. But they'll first decide the Eastern A at 5 p.m. Saturday at First Interstate Arena.

Lewistown 44, Glendive 28

It's been a year of transition for defending state champion Lewistown, which lost Royce Robinson to graduation and then Fischer Brown to a prep school in Utah prior to this season.

But the Eagles are nonetheless headed to the title game after Friday's 44-28 semifinal win over Glendive.

Last season the Eagles won the school's first boys basketball title since 1979, and did it in dominant, undefeated fashion. This year's team, while also battling injuries, won just six regular-season games.

Against Glendive, Lewistown closed the first half on a 24-5 run to take a 19-point lead into intermission. The Eagles shot 55% in the opening half and got a buzzer-beating 3 from Kason Brown before the break to extend their momentum.

Big Sandy transfer Wylee Snapp led Lewistown with 15 points and six rebounds, while Maxx Ray had seven points and Brody Jenness added six. The Eagles shot 46% for the game.

Glendive slipped into loser out action Saturday. The Red Devils got eight points and five rebounds from Shann McPherson, and seven points from Kohbe Smith.

Eastern A boys: Reigning champion Lewistown, Billings Central to meet for crown

Billings Central 60, Havre 42

Central earned its berth to the championship game with hounding defense that produced a 60-42 semifinal win Friday over Havre.

The Blue Ponies scored the game's first points on a fast-break layup by Carter Spangler to open the game, but Central didn't allow another Havre hoop until 3:50 remained in the second quarter, on a shot by Tre Gary. In the meantime, the Rams built a double-digit lead that eventually swelled to 27 points in the second half.

An alley-oop dunk by Kyler Northrop on a pass from Darcy Merchant Jr. early in the second quarter was a catalyst in a game that was never in doubt for the Rams.

Northrop scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Central, while Howie Martin added 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Adam Balkenbush chipped in 11 points.

Havre, which will play in loser-out action Saturday, had 10 points from Dax Ostwalt and nine from Gary, but the Blue Ponies shot a combined 28% for the game and made just 2 of 16 3-pointers.

Friday loser-out scores

Hardin 67, Lockwood 64

Miles City 48, East Helena 38