BILLINGS — Rivalry games are just different.
Coming into Friday night's matchup as a big underdog, Laurel's boys basketball team played hard from the opening whistle and held off Billings Central down the stretch in a 46-40 win inside First Interstate Arena.
The Locomotives led 21-20 at the half thanks to contributions up and down the lineup. They extended the lead to six in third quarter, but Nate Sasich kept Central close, hitting his fourth 3-pointer of the game at the third-quarter buzzer to pull the Rams within 33-31.
Central briefly took the lead on a basket from Nick Pasquarello, who transferred from Laurel in the offseason, early in the fourth, but Laurel quickly tied it again and re-took the lead after Colter Bales scored midway through the period to put the Locos up 39-37. They'd never trail again.
Billings Central's girls, meanwhile, held Laurel scoreless for almost two full quarters in a 42-21 win in the first game of the night.
Morgan Maack hit a 3-pointer to put the Locos up 10-9 with 5:30 to play in the second quarter. Central then scored the next 21 points, including a 12-0 third quarter. Maack finally scored again for Laurel with two free throws early in the fourth.
The two teams will play again in the final games of the regular season on Feb. 18 in Laurel.