BILLINGS -- A whistle with .1 seconds left looked like it might doom Billings Central's girls, but that feeling turned to jubilation when Havre's Sadie Filius missed both free throws, locking up a 44-43 win for the Rams in the Eastern A girls basketball divisional championship on Saturday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
After trailing much of the fourth quarter, Central's Mya Hansen gave her team the lead on a layup with eight seconds left.
Havre then went through a series of three inbound passes before a whistle blew as Filius launched a desperation shot while falling down from about eight feet.
Central's Molly Molvig crashed to the floor for a pair critical steals in the final two minutes -- her last giving the Rams their last possession for Hansen to nail the go-ahead basket.
"Obviously it was an adrenaline rush," Molvig told MTN Sports. "Those games are always fun to play in."
"We knew that we had to keep fighting at the end," said Central's Isabelle Erickson. "We talked about how we love coming to play games like that, the ones that are really thrillers. We were like, we're going to state so we might as well go all-in right now."
Filius, one of Montana's most clutch high school players and typically automatic from the line, missed both free throws long.
"If she makes it, then we've got to somehow get the ball over there in .01 seconds and score," Molvig recalled thinking, "and if she misses, then we've got to get the rebound for sure. That was my mindset while she was shooting."
Hansen and Erickson led Central in scoring with 13 points apiece. Filius led everybody with 15 while teammate Kylie Walker chipped in with 13.
Montana's defending State A co-champion Rams head back to the dance this week in Great Falls as a top seed from the East. Havre will enter as a No. 2 seed.
Hardin and Glendive also advance to next week's tournament. The Bulldogs won their consolation over Glendive 48-39 Saturday afternoon.
The nightcap between Central's boys and Laurel proved just as thrilling as the girls game, and the final score just as close.
Brock Blatter hit a follow shot with under 10 seconds to play and the Rams held off multiple Laurel attempts with time winding down to survive a 47-46 win in the Eastern A boys championship.
"It was crazy, it's always fun though to play them," Blatter told MTN Sports. "The last couple years we've played them it was like that. Yeah, that was scary. Like Malachi (Stewart) said, it was a long (final) nine seconds. It was crazy, they got off three shots. We just couldn't corral the ball, but it was fun."
The teams traded blows all night in a game that was tied only twice.
"Either they'd score and then we'd score, or we'd score and they'd score," Stewart said. "The lead kept changing. It was really unpredictable but was just fun to live in the moment."
Laurel led 17-15 after one only to give way to a 29-24 Central lead at halftime. The Locomotives shaved it to a three-point lead after three quarters and led by three late but were held without a field goal for the game's final 3:27.
Blatter led the Rams in scoring with 13 points. Wylee Schnetter and Colter Bales led the Locomotives with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Lewistown defeated Hardin's boys 66-60 in overtime of their consolation. Both teams will join Billings Central and Laurel at the state tournament party next week in Great Falls.