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State A boys: Semifinals set with Butte Central, Lewistown, Dillon, Hamilton

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Lewsitown BBB Frame.jpg
Brodie Kelly
Posted at 12:31 PM, Mar 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 15:03:45-05

BUTTE — Back in familiar territory, Butte Central and Lewistown advanced with first-round victories Thursday morning at the Class A boys state basketball tournament at the Civic Center.

Butte Central pushed past Glendive 56-42 to make it to to the state semifinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons and for the 14th time out of 18 tourney trips in Brodie Kelly's 20 seasons as coach. Lewistown, the defending state champion, started fast and rolled to a 62-49 win over Columbia Falls, making it back to the semis for the third straight year.

The Maroons and Eagles will square off Friday in a rematch of a thrilling title game from 2022, when a deep Dougie Peoples buzzer-beater lifted Central to the crown.

Later Friday, Dillon knocked off Billings Central 53-48 to clinch its own semifinal berth after losing in the title game last season. Bolstered by their muscle down low, the Beavers held a nine-point lead in the first half and then emerged victorious after the Rams fought back to tie it late in the third.

In the nightcap, Hamilton jumped way out in front of Havre but had to hold on for a 60-55 first round win. The Broncs, champions of the Western A, are still alive in their search for the program's first state championship since 1947.

Butte Central 56, Glendive 42

A left-wing 3-pointer by Owen McPartland with 2:32 left in the first quarter put Central up 13-2, but Glendive climbed back into it on the strength of a zone defense that led to points on the other end.

The Red Devils took a 20-19 lead in the second quarter on a spinning layup (and subsequent free throw) by Ethan Rivas and led 25-24 at the break.

The third quarter, though, belonged to the Maroons. A sweeping shot in the lane by Parker Robertson gave Central a 31-25 lead midway through the frame. A 3 by Ryan Peoples, a basket off a steal by Zane Moodry and another McPartland triple had the Maroons up 41-26 late in the third.

Glendive managed just three points in the third quarter as the Maroons adjusted. Jack Keeley finished with a double double of 14 points and 13 rebounds before departing with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth. McPartland had 15 points and Joshua Sutton 12 for the Maroons.

Rivas' 11 points led Glendive. Carter Amsler and Cyrel Eaton each had eight for the Red Devils, who look to stay alive in loser-out action Friday.

State A boys: Butte Central, Lewistown handle business to advance to semifinals

Lewistown 62, Columbia Falls 49

Lewistown won its fourth straight postseason game in defense of last season's state title to set up a semifinal clash with Butte Central. The Eagles, still riding the momentum from their somewhat unexpected run to the Eastern divisional title two weeks ago, jumped ahead 19-2 after the first quarter against Columbia Falls and the game was never in doubt after that.

A an off-balance runner by Maxx Ray put the Eagles in front 13-2 in the first quarter, and Kason Brown beat the buzzer with a jump shot to end the frame as Lewistown led by 17.

The win marks a third consecutive semifinal appearance for the Eagles. Lewistown entered this season in transition mode while dealing with several injuries, the graduation of standout Royce Robinson and the transfer of prolific scorer Fischer Brown to a Utah prep school.

The Eagles won just six regular-season games but the team continues to play its best basketball at the right time. Ray led the way with 17 points while Big Sandy transfer Wylee Snapp had 12 points and seven rebounds. Trajan Sparks added 10 points.

Jace Hill's 23 points paced Columbia Falls, which will play Glendive in loser-out action Friday. Cody Schweikert had 13 points before fouling out.

Dillon 53, Billings Central 48

Dillon's inside game, led by 6-foot-5 Kyler Engellent and 6-4 Carter Curnow, gave Central trouble in the first half and the Beavers were able to stake to a lead that reached nine points in the second quarter. By halftime, Engellent already had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

But the Rams cut into their deficit in third quarter, notably when Darcy Merchant Jr. and Ayden Salter hit consecutive 3-pointers on passes from Vinnie Souza to pull within 37-36 midway through the third. A Kyler Northrop 3 from the corner tied the game 41-41 with under a minute left in the quarter.

Neither team scored within the first three minutes of the fourth. But an Engellent three-point play gave the Beavers a 46-41 advantage. Kee Christiansen also hit a big shot for Dillon when he drained a deep 3 with the shot clock about to expire, putting the Beavers ahead 49-43 with 1:53 to go.

Engellant finished with 18 poitns and 13 rebounds, and the Beavers outrebounded the Rams 33 to 20, with 11 of those on the offensive end. Curnow had 17 points and Max Davis added 11.

Merchant Jr. had 18 points to lead Central while Northrop scored 17, but the Rams were held without any points in the fourth quarter until the 2:30 mark when Northrop scored while cutting toward the basket.

State A boys: Southwest A foes Dillon, Hamilton set stage for semifinal clash

Hamilton 60, Havre 55

It's been 77 years since Hamilton won a boys state title, and the Broncs' hopes of ending that drought are alive and well — though it didn't come as easy as it might have seemed early on.

A two-handed dunk on a breakaway by Canaan Magness gave Hamilton a firm 32-13 lead over Havre with 3:53 remaining in the second quarter. Though the Blue Ponies started to chip away after that, the Broncs were still up by 10 points at halftime, 34-24.

But the third quarter belonged to the Blue Ponies. A Tre Gary hoop early in the third pulled Havre within 36-31, and constituted an 18-4 run. Matt Huse hit a long 3-pointer later in the quarter, and a Gary three-point play got the Blue Ponies within 47-44.

In the fourth, Havre took the lead after a Dax Ostwalt steal led to a free-throw make by Huse, putting the Blue Ponies in front 55-54 with 2:53 left. But it was short-lived, as Magness, Tristan Koemer and Jackson Jessop combined to go 6 for 6 from the line in the final 1:32 and Havre failed to score again.

Magness finsished with 21 points while Koemer had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Hamilton dominated the boards to the tune of a 35-21 advantage. Gary had 21 points for Havre and teammate Jackson Headress contributed 10.