HARDIN – Billings Central and Hardin opened their 2021-22 basketball seasons with high-profile Southeastern A regular season matchups in Hardin on Tuesday night. The Hardin girls withstood an outstanding effort from Central’s Mya Hansen, while the Ram boys hit a pair of clutch free throws with less than 10 seconds to play to beat the Bulldogs.
Hardin 55, Billings Central 51
Hardin’s girls withstood 34 points from Butler University commit Mya Hansen to beat the Rams 55-51. Kamber Good Luck poured in 24 points to lead the Bulldogs.
“Any time you beat them, it’s going to come down to the wire. We’re both so competitive and so intense,” Hardin head coach Cindy Farmer said. “Always keep somebody in front of (Hansen). Have that help coming early. Just try to get her off her game, but it’s tough. She’s one heck of a player. She’s going to get her points. We just try to contain her and stop everybody else.”
Hardin raced out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, but Hansen and the Rams stormed back and eventually took the lead to close the third quarter. With just 0.6 left on the clock, Hansen received a lob bass on an inbounds from Maria Stewart and tipped it in to grab a 42-40 lead.
Central eventually led 47-42 in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs closed on a 13-4 run spurred by several Good Luck free throws.
“We always say ‘Stay the course.’ We know there’s going to be highs and lows throughout the game. It’s four quarters,” Farmer said. “We hit a low, we just have to maintain our composure and keep our poise and keep working it. Try to get a defensive stop, anything to get us going.”
Billings Central 75, Hardin 74
It looked as if Hardin was going to steal a win at home from Billings Central.
The Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer with less than 15 seconds remaining to grab a 74-73 lead. After a steal on Central’s ensuing possession, senior Bryson Rogers had a chance to extend the lead at the foul line. Rogers, however, missed the front end of a one-and-one and fouled Central’s Jaden Sanchez, who went to the line for two.
Sanchez buried both free throws, Hardin traveled and the Rams ran out the clock to stun the Bulldogs, 75-74, to open the season victorious.
Hardin will play Lockwood next on Dec. 14. Billings Central will face Havre on Saturday, Dec. 11.