BILLINGS — Huntley Project and Manhattan will meet for the Southern B boys basketball divisional championship Saturday after both won semifinal games Friday night inside First Interstate Arena.
MANHATTAN 47, Colstrip 41
Defense wins championships, and Manhattan needed every bit of it in the final game of the night. The Tigers had 12 steals, including two in the final two minutes that led to lay-ups and gave the No. 2 team in the state a 47-41 comeback win.
Colstrip took an 18-17 lead after a first half without much rhythm. The two teams came out with more energy in the third. Manhattan took its biggest lead at 31-25 after back-to-back steals led to fast-break lay-ups, but Colstrip went on a 10-3 run that carried into the fourth quarter to reclaim the lead at 35-34.
The Colts held the one-point advantage -- 39-38 -- until the 1:30 mark, but Manhattan knocked the ball free and got a lay-up for the lead. Then moments later, Tate Bowler knocked it free again to Caden Holgate who fed Bowler ahead of the pack for a basket, plus the foul. The three-point play put the Tigers up two possessions. They ended up scoring nine of the final 11 points.
Bowler led all scorers with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Corban Johnson added 12 for the Tigers, with Holgate chipping in 10. Colstrip was led by three players with seven points each.
The win sends Manhattan to state for the first time sine 2012. Colstrip, meanwhile, will play Townsend in a loser-out game Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The winner will have a chance at the Southern B's final state berth in the consolation final.
HUNTLEY PROJECT 75, Lodge Grass 60
Noah Bouchard scored 29 points, including 12 straight for Huntley Project to start the fourth quarter, as the Red Devils pulled away late for the 75-60 win over Lodge Grass.
Damon Gros Ventre, who led with Lodge Grass with 17 but on just 7-of-22 shooting, tied the game at 60-60 midway through the fourth, but the Red Devils scored the game's final 15 points to earn their first State B trip since 2015.
The first quarter of the teams' third meeting of the year was a track meet. Bouchard missed a free throw with under five seconds left in the quarter but got his own rebound, scored and was fouled again. The made free throw gave the Red Devils a 24-21 lead. Project led 38-36 at the half, but Lodge Grass rallied in the third quarter to take a 50-48 lead going into the fourth.
The Indians took a four-point lead early in the fourth and looked to have the momentum, but Bouchard hit a 3-pointer and then an and-1 lay-up as part of his 12-point run to keep the Devils within striking distance. The final two of that run put Huntley in front for good, 62-60.
The Red Devils dominated the game from the free throw line, making 27 of 34 attempts. Brandon Geck finished 10 for 10, including eight clutch makes in the final quarter. Lodge Grass finished just 6 of 10 from the line after being forced to shoot 3s late trying to catch up. Lodge Grass finished 4 of 24 from the 3-point line.
Tim Rose added 14 points for Huntley Project, while Jake Fox, who was in foul trouble most of the night, added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Huntley Project will face the Manhattan in Saturday's Southern B championship at 8 p.m. Lodge Grass will play a loser-out game Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Lockwood High School. The winner will play for the Southern B's final state berth in the consolation final.