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State A boys: Lewistown, Dillon win to set up championship game rematch

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 21:20:30-05

BUTTE — Staring down a double-digit deficit four minutes into Friday's semifinal, defending state champion Lewistown relied on what coach Scott Sparks said were grit and toughness to survive.

A big second half led the Eagles to a 48-39 semifinal victory over Butte Central and puts them back in the title game at the Class A boys state tournament at the Civic Center.

Lewistown, which began the season 1-7 while battling a slew of injuries and the loss of stars Royce Robinson and Fischer Brown from last year's squad, outscored the Maroons 33-13 in the second half and will play for the championship for the third straight season.

The Eagles will face Dillon in Saturday's championship game, which sets up a rematch from the 2023 title contest won by Lewistown seven points.

The Beavers jumped out in front of Hamilton and never trailed after the early moments of the first quarter on the way to a 59-51 victory.

Lewistown 48, Butte Central 39

Jack Keeley couldn't miss. The Butte Central guard opened Friday's semifinal by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers as the Maroon began with an 11-0 run. The large contingent of Central faithful, as you might expect, were deafening in their approval.

Keeley hit four 3s in the first half, G.G. Fantini added two others and Central led 26-15 at intermission.

"They got their butts chewed at halftime," Sparks said afterward. (Central) completely outplayed us in the first half in every aspect of the game."

The Eagles responded after the break with an 11-0 run of their own — highlighted by two Kieran Netburn baskets and two Brody Jenness buckets that came off of turnovers — and the game was tied 26-26 with 4:55 left in the third.

The Maroons scored five points in the third and eight points in the fourth, and Lewistown took its first lead at 33-31 after a Maxx Ray steal and basket 20 seconds into the final quarter.

Netburn made it 36-31 with 4:32 left, and the Eagles were able to close it out from the foul line. An Owen McPartland 3 with 41 seconds left was Central's last, futile gasp.

Jenness scored all 14 of his points in the second half to lead the Eagles. He also had six rebounds. Ray and Netburn added eight points. Keeley had 21 and McPartland 10 for the Maroons.

"We all had this in the back of our mind," the only one of eight Lewistown seniors who didn't miss time this year due to injury. "We knew once we all were healthy we were going to be a tough team to beat. We all just kept our heads down and kept working every single day."

State A boys: Dillon, Lewistown set stage for championship rematch

Dillon 59, Hamilton 51

Kee Christiansen had a tough assignment. His role is Friday's semifinal was to defend, disrupt, do whatever he could to negate the impact of prolific Hamilton guard Canaan Magness.

Christiansen did his duty, limiting Magness to a 5-for-17 showing from the field and 11 points. Christiansen also did his part on the offensive end, scoring 14 points with a pair of 3-pointers.

Still, Christiansen pointed to what was a very real team effort that spurred the victory.

"I may have been the one guarding (Magness), but it's a whole team that plays the defensive end," Christiansen said. "Getting screened, we all got to play the role of guarding him.

"We all know he's a great player and maybe one of the best in the state. Just to be able to kind of shut him down was beneficial."

Kyler Engellent had 16 points and nine rebounds for Dillon, and Carter Curnow added 13 points as the Beavers again used their muscle down low. Max Davis hit all five of his field goal tries and had 12 points.

Dillon will attempt to win a boys basketball title after claiming a state football championship in the fall; Lewistown pulled that feat during the 2022-23 year.

Tristan Koemer had a big game for Hamilton with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Tyler Jette had 13 points and seven boards. The Broncs as a team were held to 38.6% shooting and were 3 for 15 from the arc.

Hamilton was denied its first trip to the championship game since 1976. The Broncs' only boys title was won in 1947.

Friday loser-out scores

Columbia Falls 67, Glendive 61

Billings Central 78, Havre 68