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Laurel girls, Columbia Falls boys win play-in games, punch State A tickets

Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 04, 2023

BUTTE — The full field for the boys and girls State A tournaments have been finalized.

The Laurel girls and Columbia Falls boys won their respective Class A play-in games Saturday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center to claim the final two tickets to the state tournament, which begins at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman next week.

Laurel girls 75, Columbia Falls 45

The Locomotives, heading into the game as the fourth seed out of the Eastern A, led from beginning to end and routed the Wildkats (the fifth seed out of the Western A) to lock up Laurel's first trip to state since 2019. The Locomotives will face Frenchtown, the top team out of the Western A, in the opening round.

Sannah Windy Boy paced the Locomotives with 15 points and Kaitlyn Dantic and Alyse Aby each scored 12. Hope McAtee led the Wildkats with 15 points.

Columbia Falls boys 82, Havre 74 (OT)

The Wildcats, the fifth seed from the West, had to sweat out an overtime win over the Blue Ponies, the fourth seed from the East, to sew up their first trip to state since 2015.

After heading into halftime tied at 36, Columbia Falls led for the much of the second half before Havre started to chip away. With 19.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Havre's Jackson Headdress hit a corner 3-pointer to trim the Wildcats lead to 72-71, and a tying free throw sent the game to OT where Columbia Falls quickly grabbed the lead and never trailed again.

The win sets up an opening-round state matchup between Columbia Falls and defending State A champion and this year's Western A champ Butte Central.

Five Wildcats scored in double digits: Jace Hill had a team-high 17 points, Cody Schweikert and Hunter Goodman each scored 15, Mark Robison had 12 and Alihn Anderson added 11

Havre's Xavier Butler scored a game-high 18 points, Crawford Terry had 16 and Reid Kato added 11.