BILLINGS — The Billings Central girls are Eastern A champions. Now, they have their sights set on the season's initial goal.
Central pulled away from Hardin late in Saturday's Eastern A title game at First Interstate Arena for a 44-39 win, claiming the East's No. 1 seed at the upcoming State A tournament, set for March 12-14 on the same court in Billings.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half. Central led 11-7 after the first quarter and just 18-12 at halftime, but Rams sophomore Solei Elletson hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third to build the lead to 24-14.
Hardin responded with a 10-2 run to get back within two, and Neveah Alden's lay-up with two seconds left in the quarter made it 29-28 Central going into the fourth.
Central continued to hold the lead throughout the fourth but couldn't pull away, and Hardin got back within one when Peyton Good Luck hit a 3 with just less than 1:00 to play to make it 38-37. But the Rams would convert free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.
Elletson led all scorers with 14 in the game, while Olivia Moten-Schell added 12 and Mya Hansen had 10 for Central. Kylee Old Elk led Hardin with 10.
The Rams move to 18-2 overall on the season with the win. Hardin is the only Class A team to beat the Rams this year, while the Bulldogs' (19-2) only two losses have come against the Rams.
Hardin will be the No. 2 seed from the East at state. Havre will be No. 3 after beating Livingston in the consolation final earlier in the day. The Rangers will be No. 4.