BILLINGS — Billings Central opened up an 18-point lead in the opening quarter over Miles City and never looked back en route to a 66-34 win in the semifinals of the Eastern A divisional tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in Billings.
Central's lead grew to 24, 40-16, by halftime, thanks to 14 first-half points from Butler commit Mya Hansen. Hansen finished with a game-high 16 points.
"Sometimes you walk into the locker room, the music is playing and they're dancing, you don't know what you're going to get," Billings Central head coach Jetton Ailes said. "They're either too loose or they're just right. (Friday) we were just right. They play for each other. They're a really fun group to be around and I couldn't be more proud to stand by their side through this journey."
The Rams were efficient offensively, shooting north of 50 percent from the field, hitting 13 of 16 from the foul line and turning the ball over just four times. The Rams forced 19 Miles City turnovers.
Billings Central is in the Eastern A title game for a fourth consecutive season. The Rams will face Havre for the second year in a row, as the Blue Ponies defeated Hardin in the evening's other semifinal, 57-40.
"I think it'll be incredibly good. Billings Central is a very, very good basketball team. Jett (Ailes) does a great job. Their kids are big studs. We're fortunate to have the opportunity to play them. We're looking forward to that," Havre head coach Dustin Kraske said. "Particularly in this gym and this environment. It's state tournament like, as I've said before, so we're really looking forward to the opportunity. We get to sleep in a little tomorrow, so we have all the perks of the late game."
The Blue Ponies opened up the game on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 12 in the opening half. Havre went into the locker room with a 28-18 lead over the Bulldogs.
"I had a feeling that we were ready to play. Our kids got off the bus, they just had their normal look about them," Kraske said. "I thought we got off the bus purposefully. We got to the locker room, did our routine and I thought our kids were zoned in and ready to go."
Havre stretched its lead out to as many as 18 in the third quarter, essentially putting the game to bed before the final frame. Jade Wendland led all scorers with 17 points. Yelena Miller had a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double, and Sadie Filius added 13 points for Havre. Kylee Old Elk led Hardin with 11 points.