BILLINGS -- Billings Central opened the second half on a 14-1 run to gain a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter, and the Rams would hold off Havre through the final 12 minutes for a 59-46 Class A girls basketball victory on Saturday in Billings.
Havre held a 14-10 advantage after the first quarter, but Central's offense was sparked by Solei Elletson in the second quarter, giving the Rams a 23-19 lead at the break. Then the third-quarter flurry hit. Mya Hansen, Isabelle Erickson and Maria Stewart sand 3-pointers and Olivia Moten-Schell converted a 3-point play to put the Rams up 37-20 with 4:20 to play in the third quarter.
"Havre's a great team, and it's just a battle whenever you face them," Billings Central head coach Jetton Ailes said. "We just had some kids step up. We had some kids step up and hit some big shots. That's the one thing about this team, is that any given night someone is going to step up. (Saturday) we saw that."
University of Montana commit Kyndall Keller wasn't going to let Havre go down without a fight. Keller hit a pair of triples to cut into the deficit, then found Sadie Filius for a 3-point play. Havre cut the deficit to as little as four but trailed 41-35 entering the final frame.
"No plays off. We challenge these kids to give it their all for 32 minutes, especially against teams like that who know how to finish a game," Ailes said. "A lead like that can go from 17 to four real quick. We've just got to stay locked in and finish every possession and execute."
Central's defense was able to lock down Havre in the fourth quarter, while Hansen, Moten-Schell and Erickson delivered big buckets down the stretch to give the Rams distance from the Blue Ponies. It's a big early season win for Central, but there's still a long road ahead.
"It's no secret that there's a lot of firepower over here in the East. We'll celebrate the win tonight, but we'll see Havre again, I guarantee it," Ailes said.
Elletson led the Rams with 15 points. Keller had a game-high 25 for the Blue Ponies. Billings Central will travel to Hardin next Friday. Havre will visit Glendive on Friday.